When a user comes to your website, they must feel that it is comfortable and usable. Designing for web usability means that you will do everything within your power to make it simple for your customer to part with their money. This includes making it navigable, consistent, and searchable. Here are ten guidelines for increasing a website’s usability and help boost your conversion rate.
1. Consistency: Consistency plays a part in both usability and your business branding. Make each part of your site internally with the remainder so that a user always knows where they are. Keep your navigation in the same place on each page, maintain your text style throughout the site. Customers should always be able to quickly and easily search for something, so make sure you have a search box in a prominent position (typically in the top right).
2. Forms: Most users accept that forms are a website’s necessary evil – they understand that you want to have their email address and name to make your experience personal. Unfortunately, there are some websites which take the use of forms to an extreme. If your reader must complete a form, request as few fields as possible and reassure them that it will be kept private and not sold on to other companies. Do you really need to know your customer’s phone number while they are browsing?
3. Make your site searchable: Place a search button in plain view at the top of each page so that your users can find relevant information quickly and easily. Perform tests on the search function and track queries to discover the relevance of answers. If a customer is searching for size three shoes, you do not want to have the search engine’s first result be an advertisement for socks – that’s just not going to convert!
5. Checkout should be painless: The checkout process should not be a system of jumping through hoops – it needs to be a smooth process from start to finish. The customer should receive all the information and guidance they desire, without having the chance to second-guess their decision to purchase your product. If possible, institute a no-login checkout policy, where customers can give you their secured credit card information and ship-to address.
6. Use breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs provide a mini site map of where your customer or viewer is located within your website. Let your readers know that they are in a subcategory and make each level clickable so they can get back to where they were or navigate back up the tree.
7. Encourage feedback: Feedback is important for any website – blog or ecommerce store. In order to refine your design and sales funnel you need honest suggestions and recommendations from your users. If you want to boost the volume of feedback you get, offer users assurances that their details won’t be shared and give users an incentive to participate, such as a prize or freebies.
8. Let users easily distribute your content: Let your users have every available opportunity to spread the word about your great content or products. If you run a blog, give them easy to use Twitter and Facebook buttons, and allow them to subscribe to your feed at the touch of a button. Make sharing as easy as possible and let your users know that they can share your content with their friends.
9. Taglines: Taglines are used to show visitors the purpose of your site. When your readers step through your virtual doors, they should immediately know what to expect. Create a tagline which gives them an idea of the site’s functions and purpose and place this valuable information on every page, including your site’s landing page.
10. Look at your site through the visitor’s eyes: Evaluate each portion of your site as if you are visiting for the first time. Are all of the calls to action easy to understand and fulfil? Can you easily navigate between sections? Will users find it easy to work out where they are on your site? Can you search for desired content? Each of these factors play a part in overall usability and should be addressed to make using your website easier.
There’s no doubt about it: your site’s usability plays a vital part in your sales and page views. Take time to work out what’s wrong with your site, fix it and reap the rewards!