Financially Responsible Marketing

Best Practices for Improving your Website’s Usability

Posted by on Oct 20, 2011

Creating content for the web has many challenges. One of the biggest issues is ensuring that your material is easily navigated, read and understood by your visitors. When your content is readable, your website visitors can easily locate the information they are looking for and quickly digest the salient information they need. This makes your website a functional, valuable resource and can quickly turn a ‘visitor’ into a customer.

Here are some tips on how to improve the readability and usability of your website:

  • Keep your content concise
    • Web users have a short attention span and rarely take the time to read articles and information thoroughly when a quick scan will suffice. Get to the point as quickly as possible using easy to understand, common phrases, cut out unnecessary information and use numbers instead of spelling them out to facilitate scanning.
  • Use headings to break up long articles
    • A usability study by web content management expert Gerry McGovern led him to the conclusion that internet readers view webpages in blocks and sections, and not as a whole. Web readers jump between items that seem to match what they are actively looking for. Using headings to facilitate this reading pattern will allow visitors to navigate your site and quickly access the information they are seeking.
  • Make hyperlinked text user-friendly
    • A major advantage to web-based text is the use of hyperlinks. Make your hyperlinks more usable by truncating the link to the most important information (instead of a long web address) and indicating which links have already been visited by the user through font or colour changes.
  • Use visuals strategically
    • Photos, charts and graphs are worth a thousand words when used effectively. Ensure that your photos and images contain relevant information and support your textual content. Avoid stock photos and meaningless images meant only to create visual interest as these are generally ignored by readers and can dilute the content of your message.

What websites have you visited lately that you found engaging and easy to use?