10 Ultimate Usability Guidelines for Web Designers

Let’s put ‘usability’ in simple words so that it is easy for everyone to understand. Precisely, it means making your website easy-to-use for visitors and allowing them to find information easily. A common myth is that usability can be really expensive but as I said, it is only a myth. Huge companies that can afford spending millions of rupees on usability testing, they do spend however; this does not mean that it is not in the reach of small companies. Yes, you won’t be having experts around you or those expensive equipments but still, it is most definitely attainable.

10 Ultimate Usability Guidelines for Web Designers

Nowadays, everything is available online so learning about usability should not be a problem for web designers. As a web designer, you can gather some good knowledge on usability nitty-gritty and ways to put them into practice. This article will be a good example on what I just said. Continue reading and you will learn how to implement usability basics on your website without having to spend a fortune.

10 Ultimate Usability Guidelines for Web Designers

Add a striking tagline

Add a striking tagline

Taglines are very important for any website or product. It is basically to summarize your services or your website’s mission in one single sentence so it has to be really creative and beguiling. Make sure you highlight your website’s tagline on the homepage of your website. Like I always say, grabbing attention of an internet user is very difficult. According to some researches, a website owner only has a few seconds to capture the attention of the viewer and taglines are a good way to do it. By reading your website’s tagline, a visitor will know if he is at the right place. Your tagline should be impressive enough to make the visitor stay on your website for longer.

Site Search feature is a MUST

Site Search feature is a MUST

This is a very important feature which is often ignored. A visitor cannot go through your entire website just to find something. Implementation of site search feature will help user in finding the desired content. Your search box should allow minimum 25 characters and it should be placed on the top of every page. Instead of putting in default text such as ‘Go’, add a button at the end of search bar saying ‘Search’ so that it is easier for visitor to find the search bar and use it for searching purposes.

Do not over-do designing

Do not over-do designing

Just because you want to make your website look beautiful does not mean you should add everything that you find creative and attractive. Too much usage of graphics, flash will always leave a bad impression of your website. By putting in all of this, you are just giving the visitors lots of reason to get distracted from the main motive of visiting your website. If you really want increase your website’s usability, try to keep it simple. There are millions of ways to improve your website so remember; going over the board with designing should not be an option when you are looking to improve your website.

Implementation of sitemaps

Implementation of sitemaps

Sitemaps are rarely used in websites whereas this feature can really improve the website’s usability. It not only helps visitors in navigating the website with ease but it also helps in improving search engine rankings. Precisely, a sitemap is a structural arrangement of website’s content. You can have HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps. Your sitemap should be designed in a hierarchical manner for the convenience of visitors.

Do not trap your visitors

Do not trap your visitors

It is very important to give your visitors a freehand. For website’s usability, do not break the workflow. There will be many times when a user does not want to complete a form or a registration process. Allow users to leave the page and do not force them to finish the job. Forcing your visitors to sign-up or other stuff will only put off a user and he will never visit your website again. Avoid using Javascript links because they usually allow breaking the flow. Also, do provide guidance tips on your website. Not every visitor is a genius to understand your website and its requirements.

Highlight links the user has visited already

Highlight visited links

A very big mistake is not changing colors of visited links or marking them as read/viewed. This actually breaks the navigational design which is not a very good thing. Let your visitors know that they have been on your website before and highlight the links they have visited before. Make things easier for them so that they do not end up on the same pages again and again.

Allow users to scan the content

We all do this. Instead of reading entire content on the website, we scan page on internet to see if it is really what we are looking for. If your web pages are easy to read, you can easily build up a loyal membership base. Try to use catchy headlines for your paragraphs and highlight them. You should always start from the most important information and then move on towards the least. In order to highlight, you can use headings and sub-headings.

Do not confuse your visitors

Do not confuse your visitors

Confuse From 123rf.com

UI controls should be designed in a way that they do not mislead the visitors. I have seen plenty of websites where text is underlined or highlighted like a link and when clicked, nothing happened. Such things normally give an idea that the link is broken. So avoid designing misleading user interface controls as they not only confuse visitors but also put a bad impression of yours.

Evocative information

Providing and gathering meaningful information is way too important to build a good relationship with your visitor. Everything should be clearly written so that there is no room left for confusion. If there is an issue on your website, instead of giving a random error message, write a meaningful message so that user can understand the issue. Also, only gather important information from users and do not ask for the same information over and over again.

Using CAPTCHAs is not a good idea

Using CAPTCHAs is not a good idea

You must have seen CAPTCHA boxes on your website stating, ‘Are you really Human?’ followed by some complex letters or digits for you to write in the box. Well, if you own a website, avoid using this. The name itself is very confusing and no one wants to figure out distorted characters online. Apart from this, symbols and letters are somewhat different in many languages so you are just making things difficult for your visitors. If you really want to use it, in order to avoid spam, please keep it simple.


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4 Comments

  1. You have shared some really helpful web usability guidelines. I would like to add a few more that are necessary for web usability. Navigation is one of the most important parts of a website and designers should add breadcrumbs in large websites for user friendly navigation. Make sure that the logo is placed at the top part of the site and it’s linked with the homepage.

  2. Jane Hooper says:

    Some good tips here, which I will not only bookmark but also implement, and in keeping with the article is very “usability” friendly and something I could scan read!!!

  3. Paul says:

    Keep it simple is always the best way, in design and usability.

  4. rod says:

    nice article