The usability or user experience within a web is a very important factor to consider when we plan a design and development project or we want to launch an online project.
Next we present an article that treats the usability in web sites with the 25 key points that we must take into account. It is a simple list of usability basics where we will try to bring order to some of the most relevant aspects that will help us create a digital value experience that fits our business objectives and that is also attractive to our users.
The points of this article are grouped into 4 sections: Accessibility, identity, navigation and content.
What are 25 key points of digital usability?
Section 1: Accessibility
This section contains not only the traditional accessibility problems, but everything that could prevent a visitor from accessing the information on a website. If nobody can load your site, or if the typeface is too small to read, all the ease of use in the world will not matter.
1- The loading time of the website is reasonable
If a site takes a long time to load, most people will simply leave. Yes, many of us have fiber optics now, but that also makes our patience less. The loading speed not only improves the organic positioning, but also helps to improve the user experience. Nowadays we are used to fast pages, and every time we have less patience. Our suggestion and that of Google pagespeed is that a web page should load in less than 2 seconds.
2 – Contrast of the text with the background
Design is a very important aspect when we talk about usability. The dark gray over light gray color may look elegant but is not comfortable to read. Most users are not going to leave the view to read our blog if it is not pleasant. The eyes of our users and their monitors vary enormously from one another, so we have to try to maintain high contrasts to make it easier for them to read. The old black on white is still the best option.
3 – Font size and character spacing
Opinions vary on the ideal size for the text, but it is easy to fall into the error of using text that is too small. Poor reading increases frustration and frustration leads to abandonment of the site which can increase our Bounce Rate. In addition, we have to make sure that the space between the lines is the right one: the blank space is the best friend of any designer, and as I was told at the design university, we have to let the elements breathe to create good compositions.
4 – Use of Flash
No matter how good your website is on an aesthetic level, people will not wait 5 minutes for a plug-in to load. As we mentioned before, any page that loads in more than two seconds is bad and therefore, we should only use inserts with animations or specific functionalities in some points of the web and when they really improve our objectives. Adhering to the HTML / CSS standard is a plus point for search engines and makes websites load quickly.
5 – ALT labels for images
Nowadays, not only visually impaired visitors use ALT tags, but search engines need them to understand the content of our images. This is especially important when we use images for key content, such as menu items since search engines can not yet recognize the content of the images.
6 – Custom 404 page
If there is no page on your site, or we have a broken link, a blank page with “404 Not Found” is a good way to lose a client. If we create a personalized 404 page, preferably one that informs that the page the user was looking for does not exist but also guides its visitors to other parts of content that may be relevant, that will encourage the person to continue browsing our website and so we will not lose it. We could also consider adding a copy with a certain tone of humor since that is a high friction moment for the user and in that way we would lower the level of frustration.
Section 2: The identity
A key question when someone comes to your website for the first time is “Who are you?” It is important to answer this question quickly and make the paths to the following obvious questions “What are you doing?”, “Why should I trust you?”, Etc. be clear and easily recognizable, otherwise we run the risk that The user can generate a bad impression of our company, especially if his intention is to buy.
7 – Logo
We have to place our logo or brand where it is easy to find, and that usually means placing it in the upper left part of the screen. People expect to find it there, and they like it when you make life easier for them by adding a link to the homepage of our website, since this way our users will be happy and therefore improve their experience on the web.
8 – The Tagline, makes clear the purpose of the company
Answer “What are you doing?” concisely with a descriptive slogan. We have to try to avoid jargon or use technical vocabulary, trying to reduce our value proposition to a few words. This is also an advantage for SEO since we help to understand what we do and what our offer is. It is very important not to ignore anything because the user does not know us as well as we know ourselves.
9 – Understand the Homepage in 5 seconds
In usability, we often talk about the 5-second rule. There is a bit of disagreement about how many seconds it takes to internalize a homepage, but the users of our website need to get the basic essence of the homepage in a few seconds.
10 – The About us
The good old page “About” may seem boring, but building trust is essential on any website. Users need an easy way to learn more about the people behind the project, because in the end people want to be able to deal with other people and this point has lost a bit as a result of the digital ecosystem in which we find ourselves. In short, if someone wants to buy products, pay for a subscription or establish a business relationship, they want to know what people are behind the project and what references they have.
11 – Contact
As in the previous point, visitors want to know that they can contact us quickly. It is very difficult not to say impossible to create a business relationship if nobody can contact us easily and intuitively. Preferably, we must include our contact link in a part of our website that is displayed at all times, such as a sticky menu. It is also a usual practice to give the maximum possibilities and add them in all the pages of the web. Phone, form, mail or physical address.
Section 3: Navigation
Once users already know who we are and what we do, they need clear paths to the different contents of our website that may interest them. The architecture of information is a huge subject, but these points cover some of the most basic concepts.
12 – Main navigation
Almost all the websites have had a main menu since the first browsers went on the market. We have to make the main navigation easy to find, read and use. If we have two or more navigation areas, we must make it clear why they are different, not only to guide users, but to make it clear to them what the structure of our website is.
13 – Navigation labels must be clear and concise
No need to put “Communicate with our team” when “Contact us” works perfectly. The main navigation should be brief and easy to understand for mere mortals.
14 – Reasonable number of elements such as buttons and links
15 – Link from the logo to the homepage
We advanced it in point 2.1. The logo of the company that should normally be placed on the top left should contain a link to the home page. People expect it, we will not generate unnecessary frustration.
16 – Links must be coherent and easy to identify
The link has to be underlined and to be able to be in blue color since it is a basic element of any web. A small artistic license is fine, but we have to consider at least making the links are of a color that contrasts enough with our website or they are underlined. The links should stand out and we should use them with enough restraint so that they do not interrupt the flow of our content.
17 – The site search must be easily identifiable
If we want to put a search engine on our website, we must first make sure it is visible. The usability guidelines suggest that most users prefer to find the search engine in the upper right corner of the page. We have to try to keep the button simple and clear: The classic “Search” still works very well for most sites.
Section 4: Content
Surely you’ve heard it before, “the content is king”. However, if you do not want the kingdom to crumble, the content must be coherent, organized and easy to understand. The same can be applied for usability. We must not only have valuable content, but this must be fresh and relevant.
18 – The main headings must be clear and descriptive
The majority of people do not read a complete web but rather dedicate themselves to browsing. Therefore, we must correctly use the headers to differentiate the content and keep it organized. The headings must be clear and, to benefit the SEO of our site, it is imperative to use header tags (<H1>, <H2>, etc.).
19 – The critical content is before the scroll
The “fold” is that imaginary line where the bottom of the screen cuts the page. The content may be below the “fold” and the user will have to scroll down to see it, but any critical aspect to understand who we are or what we do (especially on the home page) must be located on that first screen. The average screen resolution is currently approximately 1024×768 in browser, depending on our audience.
20 – Consistency in styles
We have to make sure that people know that they are still on our website by being consistent with the style; If we confuse them, we will lose them. The design, headings and styles should be consistent across the web, and colors should generally have the same meaning. We should not use red headers on one page, red links on another, and red text on another, as that can lead to confusion.
21 – Bold
It is a fact of human cognition: If we try to draw too much attention we can fall into the error of taking attention to nothing. We have all seen this web, which has many elements accompanied by a red, blinking, underlined where it says “NEW!” that at the end creates a sense of confusion and does not help more than distract us from the main objective of conversion.
22 – Ads and pop-ups that do not bother
The ads are a reality in our day to day, but those that really work very well are those that are perfectly integrated into the experience of our website. We should not make the mistake of forcing ads and pop-ups or pop-ups to force. Also, if we are concerned about our audience, we must make it clear that they are advertisements and that it is content. If we blur the line between ads and content too much, our users may confuse it and affect the usability of our website.
23 – We must be concise and explanatory
This is not a lesson about copywriting, but if we analyze our homepage. Can we say the same with half the words? If we try to be concrete and descriptive and we avoid jargon that will greatly benefit the usability of our website: nobody is interested if we can “take advantage of their synergies”.
24 – User friendly and meaningful URLs
This is a point of debate, but meaningful URLs based on keywords are generally good for both visitors and search engines. We do not have to redesign a site completely just to get new URLs, but do everything possible to make them descriptive and friendly.
25 – Self explanatory titles
More importantly, they are the titles of your page (in the <TITLE> tag) we must be descriptive, unique and not be full of keywords. The titles of the pages are the first thing that visitors and search engines see, and if those titles do not make sense or look like spam, they will pass by positioning us below our competitors.
What am I supposed to do now?
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