Web usability is about making your website in such a way that your site users can find what they're looking for quickly and efficiently. A usable website can reap huge benefits on to your website and your business.
Users have gradually become accustomed to particular layouts and phrases on the Internet, for example:
There are numerous other conventions like these that enhance your website's usability - can you think of some more?
Don't underestimate the importance of these conventions - as the Internet matures we're getting more and more used to things being a certain way. Break these conventions and you may be left with nothing but a website with poor usability and a handful of dissatisfied site visitors.
Usability studies have shown that 8.6 seconds is the maximum time web users will wait for a page to download (source: Andrew B. King - Speed Up Your Site). As of March 2004 just 25% of UK web users had broadband (source: National Statistics) so it's essential for optimal usability that your website downloads quickly.
To speed up the download time of your website we recommend you do three things:
We read web pages in a different manner to the way we read printed matter. We generally don't read pages word-for-word - instead we scan web pages. When we scan web pages certain items stand out:
Did you notice that images were left out of that list? Contrary to the way in which we read printed matter, we see text before we see images on the Internet. For optimal website usability don't place important information in images as it might go unnoticed.
Don't prevent your users from navigating through the Internet in the way that they want to. For example:
There are lots of other ways that websites can place restrictions on its users, ultimately damaging their usability - can you think of any more? Just think back to the last time a website really infuriated you - what annoying thing did it do to make you feel that way?