In a recent post on trends in web design for St Charles business marketers to watch this year, I briefly covered the topic of usability. Of course it’s all very well to say your website must be designed for usability and that a great user-experience is everything, but what does that mean exactly?
In this post, I’d like to share a little guidance on what a high-usability website looks like and how you and your St Charles web design provider can collaborate to deliver an awesome user experience—one that will attract visitors to your web pages and keep them there.
A Good Look is a Good Start
To start at the very beginning, first impressions matter when designing a website for usability. Although the most important thing is how your website works, the visual element will matter in creating a good first impression.
Judicious use of color for example, will make a difference to conversion rates. You don’t need to take my word for that though. In her article called The Importance of Color in Website Design (written for Designrfix), social media advocate Daniela Baker cites research supporting her assertion that websites with poorly chosen color schemes fail to convert leads.
In addition to striking the right color balance, other aspects of visual web design for St Charles marketers to consider are typography, which should be clear and legible, as well as general layout, which should be uncluttered, free from pointless animations (and even more pointless music), and should present plenty of white space to be easy on visitors’ eyes.
Navigation is Next
Once you’ve ensured the visual elements of your web design wow St Charles Internet users, it’s time to focus on navigation—a key factor in usability.
Web marketing author Stoney deGeyter advises that there are 6 Easy Ways To Improve Your Site’s Navigation. According to his article for Search Engine Land, those six principles are as follows:
1) Maintain consistent navigation features and placement across all pages on your website.
2) Keep category headings separate from sub-category headings within menus.
3) Make sure all your category and sub-category headings are clickable
4) Use accurate and easy-to-understand navigation titles.
5) Ensure all your images have ALT text.
6) Make sure your site search function works properly.
Remember too, that navigation elements which work for desktop users may be a source of consternation for those using mobile devices. Usability means a website that’s easily accessible and navigable on any shape and size of screen or monitor; a point which leads nicely onto the topic of mobile-friendliness.
Make it Mobile-friendly
If the trend in mobile Internet use continues to grow rapidly (and there’s little reason to expect it won’t), you’re going to need to focus your web design on St Charles smartphone and tablet users, although not at the expense of those who still prefer to browse on larger screens. That’s where responsive website design comes in.
Business strategist and author, Barbara Findlay Schenck wrote an article for Entrepreneur called How to Make Your Website More Mobile-Friendly, in which she stresses how important it is to not ignore the needs of mobile Internet users. That means that if your website is not currently mobile-friendly, you or your St Charles web design provider must get busy with a remedy.
If redesigning your website for mobile-usability is really not an option, you can set up a separate mobile version to run parallel with your main website. However, there’s really no substitute for a single website built on a responsive platform.
The term “responsive” simply means that your website is automatically configured for the screen size of each user, so if you view your site on a desktop, it will look different to its appearance on the screen of a tablet. Responsive websites are optimized to make them easy to view and navigate on any type of screen or monitor.
If you do nothing else about improving your website’s usability this year, you owe it to your business to locate a good provider of web design in St Charles or St Louis and have them redesign it to be mobile-friendly—unless of course you are already on top of that issue.
Apply Consistent User-interface Controls
Have you ever been frustrated by clicking on a website link, only to find that it’s not really a link or clicking on a button that’s not really a button?
Irritating isn’t it?
Hopefully your St Charles web design partner hasn’t made any such faux pas on your business website, since confusing graphical elements like this are a major turn-off for visitors.
As a writer for Mashable explains in an article titled 10 Usability Tips For Web Designers, when elements look like they should perform a function but don’t, visitors will probably think your site is not working properly. The next thing they will probably do is leave.
Try to make sure that your website is designed so that controls are obvious and consistent. If possible, tabs and buttons should all look the same and perform in the same way. Underlined text should only be used for links.
Putting it All Together
Now you know that your website usability depends on its looks, ease of navigation, mobile-friendliness and consistency of controls, you’ve either checked off all the boxes or are starting to feel slightly anxious. If the latter applies, don’t worry. Any good provider of web design in St Charles will be able to coordinate all the necessary elements of usability and update your website to be a more hospitable place for visitors.
Changescape Web is one such provider. One of our specialties is helping small businesses to benefit from top-flight web design in St Charles. If you’d like to know more about our website development and design services, please feel free to contact us today at 636.947.6200.