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You do everything to publish high-quality content on your website and make the design appealing enough to the users. You invest tons of effort and money into its promotion, and you spend several hours a day sharing the pages and communicating with the audience on social media. If you’re still not getting results, there is one question you should ask yourself: is the website usable?

usability simple Einstein quoteUsability is not to be taken for granted. Your digital project is a great investment, so you have to do everything in your power to make it appealing to the users. The user-centered approach enables you to meet the expectations of the website’s visitors. Ultimately, the level of usability is a determining factor for achieving better conversion rates.

Although the user-friendly design is closely related to simplicity, it doesn’t mean that the most usable sites have to be dead simple. A website can contain tons of information, but it still needs to be pretty straightforward to use.

Let’s see how you can make your website more usable through 7 simple methods that will improve the experience for your audience.

Make the navigation as simple as possible

When you ask a user about the usability of a website, the first thought that comes to mind is “how easily can I find the information I’m looking for?” Research by User Interface Engineering, Inc. showed that people aren’t able to find the information they need from a website about 60% of the time. If you want your users to find the answers they need in the quickest way possible, you have to improve the navigation.

When the visitor takes a look at the main page, he needs to understand where he’s supposed to click. The main menu should include few categories with drop-down menus that guide him at the right page.

usability simple navigation

Use catchy headings

When you’re doing the best to build a great site, you certainly pay attention to the quality of the content you feature. The structure of the articles you feature on the website is tightly related to its overall usability. Peter Koechley, co-founder of Upworthy, says that a good headline can make a massive difference in the website traffic. When they test headlines, they see up to 500% difference in the traffic.

When someone takes a look at a web page, he sees it as brief pieces of information, and he’s not always ready to read through the whole thing. That’s why you need to write in blocks, just as the visitor tends to read. You need to separate those chunks of information with awesome headings that will trigger the visitor’s interest.

usability catchy headlines

Reduce Clutter

If you don’t know where to start, here is a suggestion: start reducing the word count in the text you feature at the website. Are you offering too much information that’s not really relevant? Cut down the amount of text and the site will immediately become more readable.

The clutter is not limited solely to text, though. You should also get rid of too flashy ads and features no one is interested in. If you’re featuring ads, make sure they are almost unnoticeable in the overall design of your website. Otherwise, you risk distracting the reader from the main point.

Forbes is an example of how you should NOT feature ads. When you try to access the website, you get a boring welcome page and an ad, so you have to wait few seconds before you get the information you need. Plus, it forces you to disable the AdBlock if you want to access the site. Don’t do that! It’s frustrating for a user who simply wants to see your content, not the ads.

usability Forbes spam ads

Place the most important content at the right place

When a visitor lands at your site, he mainly looks at the information above the fold. That’s the first rule you need to remember. Here is the second important rule: the visitor mostly looks at the left section of the page. Have you ever wondered why the right section is reserved for menus and ads, whereas the left part is where the text is? Now you know.

The F-shaped pattern is an effective way to structure a page, using visitors’ habitual behavior for designing. Internet users spend 80% of their time looking above the page fold of a website, and they spend 69% of the time looking at the information at the left portion of the page.

usability f-pattern
1. Image source

Improve the readability and clarity of the content

When it comes to usability, most website owners are concerned about the loading time, menus, colors, and other features of the site. Unfortunately, most of them neglect the fact that the clarity of the featured content is a crucial element of the overall functionality of the website.

According to research by Nielsen Norman Group, website users read maximum 28% of the words on an average visit. The conclusion is obvious: the current generation of Internet users does not have an impressive attention span. The online world is full of distractions, so you have to do your best to grab their attention and keep it on your website. If you ask a visitor how usable your website is, he won’t pay too much attention to the actual design, although that will also be an important factor. He will mostly be concerned about the value he gets.

Thus, you need to make sure to launch readable, clear, and informative content at your website. Take the AssignmentMasters website as an example: the content is very informative and detailed, but it’s easy for the visitor to read the whole thing and understand the point. That’s the impression you should aim for.

usability readability clarity

Choose the right images

What’s the first thing a visitor sees on your website? It’s not the content, and it’s not the menu. The visual elements are the point of attraction, and they have to speak for themselves. Sometimes the visitors don’t even bother reading the titles; they base their impressions upon the featured images, so they decide whether or not to keep browsing through the site.

Did you know that the right infographic or photograph could increase the total views by 94%? You have to use high-quality, relevant images, videos, and infographics for each page at your website. Choose these elements very carefully, since they have to set your website apart from the competition.

Also, you need to position those images in the right places. Pay attention to the context and add visual content whenever you need to explain or illustrate a point more clearly. Make sure to choose visual elements that fit into the style and color scheme of your site. You don’t want them to stick out like they don’t belong there. The choice of images has to make the website more usable since it will improve the experience and impressions of your users.

usability right images

Improve the loading time

When you ask people what the most irritating websites are, you’ll probably get this answer: “those that are heavy on the ads and those that take too long to load.” We already talked about the ads, so let’s focus on the other main factor that repulses visitors from your site: loading time. A single delay of 1 second can result in a reduction of 7% in conversions.

If your website is slower than a competitive one, your target audience won’t choose you. The main question is: how can you speed things up?

  • First, take the website speed test, so you’ll know what the starting point is.
  • Opt for the JPG format when you feature photographs and images.
  • Cut on the white space, comment tags, and line returns.
  • Get rid of unnecessary JavaScript.
  • Get rid of unnecessary META tags.

A More Usable Site = Better Site

Developing a usable website is not an action; it’s a process that takes time and multiple activities. First of all, you need to discover what your audience wants. When you answer their questions and help them solve the problems, your website will be undoubtedly usable. However, you need to provide all those solution in an easy-to-understand format.
Don’t forget: the audience always opts for simple, efficient design that enables them to find the solutions as quickly as possible. Start making the needed changes with that goal in mind!

Author: Mary Kleim is a freelance designer. She is working on several projects as a senior UX-expert. Also she is a writer at AssignmentMasters.

Photo credit: emmajanehw via VisualHunt / CC BY
Photo credit: bjornmeansbear via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

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