Usability is the extent to which a website can be used by its intended audience to achieve specific goals effectively and efficiently. To have a usable site:
- Meet the needs of your audience.
- Organize content so your users can find what they are looking for. Design the site so it can grow with new needs.
- Write page content clearly in an organized and scannable manner. Use headings so that readers can skim to find what they need. Break content up into manageable chunks, and make each major topic its own page.
- Structure navigation to reflect site organization. Main site navigation should be the same on every page, and pages of content should provide “breadcrumbs” — links back to categories or major divisions of the site.
Why is Usability Important?
If users are frustrated with your site, they will leave and possibly not come back. People leave websites if the:
- Website is difficult to use
- Homepage fails to clearly state what the site offers
- User gets lost or can't find answers to their questions (within three seconds)
- Website content is hard to read or understand
Along the way, get feedback on your site’s design, organization and writing---give your test subject specific tasks. Try to include test subjects who know little or nothing about your organization or project.
When we work so closely on our sites, sometimes it is hard to get perspective on how usable the site is and where people are having trouble.
This can be helpful even for small updates like adding a new page or re-organizing content.