Website Usability or evaluation of usability of website and website usability testing are all broad topics but generally focuses on Accessibility, Readability, Performance and the Content Quality of the website. There are many parameters to check to make sure that the website’s usability index is high. For example website load speed is a usability parameter and slow sites gradually tend to loose its readers or customers. Another example is the website navigation.Sites which does not provide proper navigation mechanism usually faces high bounce rate issue.
Highly usable websites results in increased user satisfaction and productivity, high rate of returning visitors, low bounce rate and better presence in search engine index and social media services. There are many good resources in internet that talks about the website usability. This article list down the top ten usability tips that I feel important and critical to any website or blog.
Top 10 Website Usability Check-list
In software engineering the software quality attributes are normally considered as part of non-functional requirement. The main quality attributes are the Scalability, Reliability, Maintainability and Performance. There are many other important attributes like: Accessibility, Usability, Recoverability, Portability, Operability etc.
In case of websites and blogs as software I feel the important software quality attributes could be Availability, Usability, Performance and Security and Reliability. All these attributes are most critical since that impact the end user. Other quality attributes like Scalability, Operability ,Maintainability etc are the qualities that are important for the organization that power the website.
A public website is accessible from any where in the world. People accessing your Web site have different devices, browsers and/or specific disabilities.
Let us discuss how to improve usability for non-disabled and disabled visitors. Hope that the below checkpoints implementation has the effect of increasing the usability of Web sites.
1. Website Speed and Server Performance
Faster website is necessary because people hate slow loading websites. It is a know fact that when visitors have to wait more than 2 seconds, 50% or more will leave your site. This will directly impact the readership rate of your website or possible sales.
It is very important to optimize your website and make it fast. You can take many steps like Minification of Scripts and CSS , File caching, GZIP/Deflate compression, Image optimization to ensure the best website performance. We have published many article on Improving website performance and Speed. Here is a selected list of such articles.
- Top Tips to Speed Up website – Website and Blog Optimization
- How to Test your Website Speed Against Benchmarks?
- Analyze Website or Page Performance Using Yslow and Google Page Speed
- Top 10 tips : Speed Up Blog , Blog Speed Test and Load Time
- Importance of Using CDN to Speed Up Website
2. Situational usage and Device Independence
People use many technologies and devices to access the web. Even if you consider majority or people uses a PC/MAC or laptop to connect to web the same people and others users sometimes uses other devices to connect to the web. This can be using personal digital assistants, mobile phone browsers, or other, less capable Web devices, possibly over lower-bandwidth connections.
The website should be tested on these devices or simulated environment to ensure that the website gets more visibility and better improved page views and number of visitors.
You must test your website in Different Screen Resolutions to ensure that the website is readable and accessible in all these devices.
3. Design, Layout, Error Pages, Duplicate Content and Broken Links
The website design is a critical factor behind the success of any website. It should reflect the personality of the organization or person (if it is a personal blog). The layout should be neat and tidy. The page layout should be clear and should not confuse people. They often avoid a Web site after an initial visit because they encounter difficulties navigating complex collections of information or cannot find what they are looking for in the first attempt. Layout, headings, and styles should be consistent across the website.
There should be mechanism to handle errors and broken links. To find broken links and Crawl errors you can utilize the Google webmaster Tools services. Even Bing and Yahoo also provides similar services free of cost.
- Best free services to check Broken links and anchors on your website
- How to Test Your Website Completely – Validate HTML,CSS , RSS and Mobile Compatibility
- Fix Duplicate Site Content: Avoid Google SERP Drop and Duplicate Content Penalty
- How to specify your own 404 ErrorDocuments using .htaccess file?
4. Browser Compatibility Check
It is vital to test your website in all major browsers. The Browser Compatibility Check enure that your website will render properly on all the browsers. There are many tools and free services to check browser compatibility check.
5. Clear and Consistent Navigation
As we said people often avoid a Web site after an initial visit because they encounter difficulties in navigating the site. Make your navigation clear and consistent throughout your site. The Logo or the main site heading should link to the home page of your site.
If you are using wordpress the below topics may be helpful.
6. Clear and Understandable Content
As always content is the king. Clear and Understandable Content will immediately increase the size and breadth of the audience that can benefit from your Web site. Avoid duplicate content in your site. Search engines penalize sites that has lots of duplicate contents. Always use headings like H1,H2,H3 etc to set content layers and keep it organized. Always use these markups to organize documents and posts. Page titles are very important. the <TITLE> Tag should be descriptive.
- How to Choose SEO Friendly Blog Post Title
- Fix Duplicate Site Content: Avoid Google SERP Drop and Duplicate Content Penalty
- How to Avoid Duplicate Content on WordPress Blog
- Handle ?ftr=vidpgurl and ?replytocom URLs: Avoid Duplicate Content Penalty
7. Usage of COLOR and Contrast
Contrasting colors for page background and text make for easier reading.Dark text on a light background is usually the best combination. You can apply styles for controlling text and background colors to match with environment.
8. Image and Multimedia Text Alternatives
ALT tag is very important for images. Search engines usually uses the ALT description to index the image. Audio content may not be accessible to all users. Providing alternative textual content is a good idea. It is a good practice to use alt and title attributes to properly describe images, links etc. Optimizing images will improve the site speed.
9. Support for Internationalization
Ignoring or alienating potential clients or customers in other countries may not be a good idea. Now there are lot of tools available to provide your website content in other languages. Make use of these free services. Translation services are now available across all the browsers as plugins or as an inbuilt feature.
- Use Google website translation gadget – Grow your online audience base
- Want to easily translate a document? Use Google Translator Toolkit
- Free Multi Language Translator to Translate Your Documents and text
10. Protect Website from malware infection
This is very important. People and search engines avoids sites with malware infection. You can easily find out whether your site is infected or not. Using Google web master tools or using any free services you can check that your site is free from any malware. Secure your website and blogs from attacks.
There are many important things to consider to keep your site secure. Choosing the trusted hosting provider who performs periodic virus scanning and malware check and securing your sites content and comment system will secure your site to some extent.
- Best Online website URL analysis , virus scan and advisor services
- How to Check a Website for Malware and Virus Infection
- Must Do Tips To Secure WordPress Blog and Site
- 10 Top AntiVirus Software of 2011
- Password Protecting website Pages and Directories using .htaccess
- How to Avoid Spam Comment on My Site?
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