Over the years of working experience I’ve witnessed a lot of novice web designers who mainly focus on the appearance of the website. I have to say, it is important to have a nice and visually appealing website, but you should be sensible. You can try hard to make design look beautiful, but the site won’t retain customers because of its poor functionality. Appearance is not that important. Don’t get me wrong. Of course, the site should be attractive but that’s not its main function. The point is, too often newcomers in web design pay excessive attention to website appearance when its usability plays far more important role.
All websites are created to serve a certain purpose. Some websites are built to sell different items online, others are created to demonstrate talents of their owners (portfolios, for example, or resumes). Usability of the site is very important if you want to achieve these goals. How to check if your website is usable? The first question you need to ask yourself is: can your prospects easily access the needed information on your website?
The information should be available. For example, before a customer makes a decision to purchase a product from the site, he or she would be interested to find out more about the product. A brief one-line description of the product is probably good enough for the main page, however, if you’d like to use your website as an efficient tool to sell, make sure you provide people with the detailed list of products and their characteristics.
Another important thing is to provide an easy access to the information. A page with the detailed information that’s not accessible by users is a waste of space. You should put the informational content either right under people’s noses or give them clear and well-visible links referring to the needed material.
A good navigational system is very important for the site. A good system makes it easy for your customers to move from one page to another one. If you have a navigational bar, make sure it’s allocated at the same place throughout the entire website. Don’t make your visitors feel confused and lost on the site. You need to think like a visitor and question yourself all the time what kind of things a visitor might be interested in. A good navigation system must be user-friendly and clear. If you have many pages on the site, site search engine will definitely improve its usability. A sitemap is another good feature that allows your visitors to easily and quickly find the route to the needed pages.