The usability of a page can make or break any website. Great websites with tons of useful information are hidden behind complicated navigation menus or crowded pages that users abandon before finding the information. Having a content and information rich website that has bad usability is like having a ping-pong paddle with a hole in the middle.
In this blog post I will present you with a simple and fast check-list that you can use to check how usable your website is and avoid missing the ball with your website-paddle. By following this guide you will make sure that your website is easy to use and that you are not loosing potential customers or visitors because of design flaws or usability issues in general.
General advice: try to conduct this check with someone else besides you. You are familiar with your webpage and the main purpose of this check is to identify issues that a random user might face when visiting your website.
So get your wife or husband, your Aunt or your long lost cousin, and sit in front your website and ask them the questions below.
1: Does the website load within 3 seconds?
Before the visitor sees your website, your website has to load. No one likes to wait for too long for a site to load.
If you have slow loading times you can potential loose your visitor before even he sees your webpage. Thankfully Google has a great tool that you can measure your loading times and it can be found here.
Do the test, and if you have a low score, Google will even give you some insights that you can share with your developer to improve your loading speeds.
2: Can you understand the purpose of the site within 5 seconds?
It is very important that the purpose of your website is clear with the first scan of the page that the visitor does.
For example if you are a B2B business and the purpose of your website is to create enquiries from other businesses only, it should be clear so that individual customers do not get confused and try to contact you, only to get turned down.
This can be achieved by strong Calls to Action that are relevant to your content for example.
3: Is the navigation digestible within 3 seconds?
As you can see seconds are of great importance. Your menu is the main way that your visitors will navigate your website, so making sure it’s easy to use is critically important.
I have made a previous post that goes in detail on how to optimize your navigation menu that can be found here.
In general try to have descriptive titles and avoid having more than 7 options since that will make the navigation hard to understand with just a fast scan (three seconds).
4: Are all the website pages consistent with each-other?
Keeping consistency between all the pages is critical to avoid confusing the visitors.
This way it will be easier for your visitors to learn how to use the website and make it easier for them to navigate around.
Having the same information or buttons move around on each page and not having a fixed position can cause the visitors to get confused and have troubles using your website.
5: Can you always see where you are in the website?
Visitors must always be able to identify whereabouts in the website they currently are. They must know in which page they are and in which page they will go if they press the back button.
This can easily be achieved with the implementation of breadcrumbs.
Below you can see an example from the breadcrumbs of the page you are right now.
6: Can you navigate easily back to the home page?
Making sure that navigation back to the homepage is easy should be one of your priorities.
You should always link your main logo with the homepage. This is where all the visitors will expect to click when they want to go back to the homepage.
If visitors have trouble going back they might get lost within the deep pages of the website and abandon it if they try to go back to the homepage and fail.
7: Can you easily find and use the the search function?
If your website has a large amount of pages and information, having a search function for users to find what they are looking for easily and fast, is critical.
Is your search function visible at all times? Does it work properly? Does it return the correct information? If you answered no in any of those questions, you should discuss with your developer about improving the search functionality of your website.
8: Are the page titles clear and descriptive?
When visiting a page the visitors should be able to tell what the page is about with the first look.
To achieve this you should ensure your headings and titles are descriptive and give a good explanation about what the page is about.
For example, a page with a general title such as food should be avoided and replaced with something like “Quality Food Products by Our Company”. With the second version it is clear that the page is about the company’s food products, while with the first example, the page could be about anything related to food.
9: Is the text on all the pages easy to read?
The text of the pages is where all your information about your products, services and your business goes so being easy to read is important.
There are several free tools on the internet that can help you determine how easy it is to read your page, such as this service from Juicy Studio that scans your page and give you a very detailed report on how easy it is to read your content.
10: Is all the important content available without scrolling?
You should avoid hiding important content below the page fold (meaning the point where the user has to scroll to see the content).
All of the important information should be near the top of the page since is the first place that the visitors will look and you do not risk of having the information hidden in case that the visitors do not scroll down to see the rest.
With this post I hope that I have helped you identify any possible issues with your website’s usability. This short check-list though only covers the most important and easy to spot issues since a full usability review can be conducted in any website to identify all the issues that might exist.
Have you found any issues with your website’s usability? How did you resolve it? Share your usability stories with us!