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Design tips: website usability checklist

10 December 2012

Search engine promotion is very important. People use search engines to find your website online. But once they arrive at the site, they have to be able to use your site and understand its content. Otherwise, it’s a complete waste of effort, time and money.

The usability checklist that I’m going to share with you in this blog emphasizes five important components of a usable website:

A clear and simple navigation. According to the research of web usability experts, a good navigation system should answer three important questions which are: “Where am I?” “Where can I go?” “Where have I been?” Your website can be on a high level if it includes these basic elements:

  • It’s got to be consistent. The navigation system should be in the same place on each page of the site and have the same format. It’s easy for visitors to get confused when links appear and disappear in a chaotic manner.
  • Use appropriate links. It’s a bad practice if your visitors need to guess where a link is going to take them. People should be able to see the destination by reading the text in the link. It’s not the best time to demonstrate your smartness and think of some cute ideas – visitors have neither time nor patience for that.
  • Use CSS to emphasize the links. Some people don’t like the underlined text links inside the content of the site. As a rule, most people expect to be able to click the underlined text, therefore, if the content doesn’t contain a link, remove this visual navigation clue and replace with a different technique like a background colour, different font or text colour.
  • Include a homepage link inside the navigation system. By doing so, you will greatly simplify their traveling on the site. If your website has got more than one page, it’s important to make it obvious how they can get back to the homepage.
  • Site search box. Include a search box in your website and make it look prominent. It’s important to make sure it searches all of your site. The search function shouldn’t send them to another to another site.

Your website design can attract visitors, that’s for sure, but it’s mostly the content that retains them on a site and encourages to return. Besides, it’s exactly the content that can boost your search engine rankings in the web. Don’t save the most interesting and important information for last. Place it somewhere high on the page. Do you remember how the information structured in the newspapers? All the top stories are usually displayed above the rest.

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