Website Usability Analysis
Several key areas of a website are checked for common usability errors and suggestions are made to resolve them. These combined with accurate tracking statistics to ensure customer flow can do as much for a website as a full search engine optimisation campaign (and should be carried out before attempting one).
- Does the site flow from all points? A reader should be able to enter the site on any page and logically navigate to any other page.
- Is search available? 1/3rd of all readers won’t even take the time to learn a new navigation structure if a search box is present, so it is imperative that the results include both content and products and a description of what was found.
- Are navigation links logically named with the language the reader would use to describe their content?
- Does the navigation include trust links? Links to pages describing the company, their polices, their contact details, or other non-product related information.
- Is the text scan-able? Research shows that readers won’t read text on a page until they have determined its relevance to their goal, so it is imperative that keywords are bolded or present in headings and sub-headings.
- Is their access to similar content on the page? Either in the form of word links within the text or a ‘similar articles’ section at the bottom of the page.
- Does the style of writing need a review? Writing for the web is a vastly different skill than writing for printed material, yet most website content is merely ‘pasted’. It takes 50% longer to read something on screen than on a page.
- Look for known styling errors. Paragraphs that extend the full width of a page, content not broken up by lists of headings.
- Do the visual elements of the design “shout out” over the content? Human eyes “see” in a predefined order (movement, multiple colours, large blocks of single colour, coloured fonts, large font sizes, bold, italic, and finally text) so a bad design can actually distract a reader from achieving their goal e.g. multiple animated banners.
- Does the logo or branding interfere with a pages scan-ability? Readers only care who you are after trust has been established and any attempt to force branding on them has a negative effect.
- Does the design build on existing identity through visual association?
- Do buttons and links produce expected results? Describe where a link goes, or what a button does so that readers don’t receive any surprises.
- Do site widgets actually help narrow down large quantities of data? Most site functionality – e.g. Search, Wizard – are designed to reduce confusion and help readers make decisions or find content so it is important that their usage is monitored. Are people searching for content you don’t have? Could they be looking for a product using a variation of the name?
The best way to judge whether usability suggestions are effective is to monitor site usage through analytics and to ask your readers anonymously (either through email marketing or brief on-site questionnaires).