As a user, I am frequently irritated by the lack of good usability on websites. When I review a website I like to create website journeys to replicate a user’s experience online. This involves creating a number of personas (pretend users). I set myself a goal for each visit (e.g. order a catalogue, find a particular product, find out dimensions of a product etc). Then I put myself in the position of each website visitor and document my experience. This normally reveals a range of issues that cause irritation to the user. I then create a prioritised list of most significant issues with options to resolve the irritations.
Here are some of the common issues I come across when reviewing websites in terms of usability.
- What do you do? New visitors want to quickly understand who you are and what you do. Sometimes business owners claim their business is too complicated to summarise. I have never found a business yet that cannot be summarised in about 150 words, which is a handy introduction for someone that enters your website.
- Slow download – large images that are not compressed for the web are usually to blame and waiting for a page to load is a major turn-off for visitors who may not wait around.
- Too many steps – users want to find relevant information quickly and often websites force users to click through various pages to reach what they are looking for. I like to allow for different searchers to accommodate people who know what they want and those who do wish to look around at the options. A standard search on your website should allow someone to find the page they are looking for if they are struggling or if they prefer to find content this way.
- Contact – How many times have I struggled to get contact details?! Often people wish to call you or even visit you. The Contact page should always include a telephone number and email address and where appropriate an address. I hate being confronted with a map showing a location when I simply need a postcode for my sat nav.
- Overuse of logins and passwords – yes, I know many of my fellow Marketers are desperate to capture contact details to prove their worth, but I often leave websites when I am required to login as it is just irritating. Forms often have so many questions that they just irritate users and I always prefer to keep it brief if a form is really required.
- Readability – Text should be clear and simple to read. Use of jargon and overly technical terms can be very off-putting to users.
- Calls to Action – every page should be part of a mapped user journey and should include links to additional relevant content or clear actions. As a user, you should never get to the end of a page and think, what do I do now?
- Errors – sounds simple, but many sites feature broken links or errors which simply irritate users who will most likely leave.
- Consistency – pages within a site should flow to help the user journey. This includes standard navigation throughout the site as well as similar language and layout.
- Mobile Devices – 80% of consumers are using smartphones to purchase, so why are there so many websites that do not function correctly on mobiles? Nobody can ignore the power of the smartphone and websites and emails should always be responsive to avoid irritating users.
These are just a few thoughts regarding website usability as it is a regular irritation for me and something I have worked on in the past. I hope this list is useful for you to review your own website and try to ensure users are getting the best experience out of your site.
If you would like any support in testing your website or improving usability then please contact Blooming Marketing.