What makes a good Website?
Here are some good principles for good website design to consider from the Crazyegg blog.
Usability means user-centered design. Both the design and development process are focussed around the prospective user — to make sure their goals, mental models, and requirements are met — to build products that are efficient and easy to use.
Here are 5 key principles of good website usability. Make sure to consider these in your next project.
1. Availability and Accessibility
Let’s start with a basic, yet central aspect of usability: the availability and accessibility of your site. If people try to access your website and it doesn’t work — for whatever reason –your website becomes worthless.
Here are a few of the basics of availability and accessibility:
- Server uptime – It’s important to ensure your visitors don’t get an error trying to load your site. Invest in good hosting.
- Broken links – Double check that there are no dead links on your site. Nothing sends a visitor back to Google search results faster than a 404 page.
- Mobile responsiveness – Make sure your site can handle different screen sizes and slow connections.
You could say the core of usability is clarity. If you distract or confuse your visitors, they will either need more time to find what they came for, or they might forget their initial goal all together. Either way, they will not experience your website as user-friendly and chances are that they leave dissatisfied and with no intention of coming back.
Visitors come to your site with certain goals in mind. It is your job to help them reach these goals as quickly as possible. If you can manage to do that, your visitors will be pleased and you have laid the groundwork for a positive experience.
A clear and usable design can be achieved through:
- Simplicity – Focus on what’s important. If you don’t distract your vistors they will be more likely to do what you want them to do.
- Familiarity – Stick to what people already know. There is nothing wrong with looking at other sites for inspiration.
- Consistency – Don’t get cute. Create a consistent experience across your entire website to keep your visitors mind at ease.
- Guidance – Take your visitors by the hand. Don’t expect your visitors to explore your site all on their own. Instead, guide them through your site and show them what you have to offer.
- Direct feedback – Feedback is essential to any interaction. The moment people interact with your site, make sure to offer an indication of success or failure of their actions.
- Good information architecture – Understand your visitors’ mental models and how they would expect you to structure the content on your site.
Learnability is another important aspect of usability.
It should be your goal to design intuitive interfaces — interfaces that don’t require instructions, or even a long process of trial and error to figure them out. Key to intuitive design is to make use of what people already know, or create something new that is easy to learn.
By now, people are familiar with a lot of design concepts used on the web. By using these concepts consistently, you meet your visitors’ expectations. This way, you help them reach their goals more quickly. As human beings, we like patterns and recognition, which is why we are better at handling familiar situations rather than unfamiliar ones.
If you use new concepts in your design, make sure to use them consistently and give people a hand during the initial learning phase. For example, you can offer additional information, or instructions the first time they use your site or product. Keep it simple and visual to help people remember new concepts.
Credibility is a crucial aspect of any website.
Even if people find the content they are looking for, if they don’t trust you, that content is worthless. Your website could cause site visitors to be skeptical about your business in any number of ways including whether or not you really exist, your reputation, or the quality of your content.
It is important that people know you are a real company with real people. Offer a clear “About Us” page together with your contact details and if possible a physical address.
Of course your content also plays an important role for the perceived trustworthiness of your site. Make sure you are honest and precise about your content. Avoid mistakes, such as incorrect grammar or misspellings. Don’t be modest about your expertise. If you are an expert in your field, make sure people know it. For example, you can show third-party testimonials, work references, or the number of your social media followers to win your visitors over.
Last but not least, relevancy contributes to good website usability.
It is not enough that your website is clear, your content must also be relevant. Again, it is essential that you know your users and why they visit your site.
Start with defining who your users are. Second, talk to them to find out what their goals are when visiting your site. Third, define user scenarios that demonstrate in which situation people visit your site to find what kind of content. Any design decision that you make should result in a more user-friendly website for your users.
Usability means test, test, and test again
Good usability is not attained overnight. It requires thorough user research and an iterative approach of constant testing and refining. Good usability depends on whether your website is available, clear, credible, learnable, and relevant to the people who actually use it.