Important Website Usability Guidelines to Follow

After showing my website usability checklist to colleagues and fellow writers, some of them raised an interesting point. They informed me that although I talk about trends to look out for and lists of top applications and services, I don’t really touch upon HOW to implement them.

So, today I’m going to talk about guidelines: website usability guidelines. I will touch upon four main sections in my checklist. Bear with me if I tend to info dump today!


Accessibility

When it comes to accessibility, the main concern is your load speed. While streamed content such as video and audio may take up to 30 seconds to buffer, any other type of data or visual information should not take longer than 10 seconds.  This includes 3G connections -the slowest form of internet (classified broadband/highspeed).

Design

It is generally advised to keep dark text in light colored areas for maximum visibility. For branding purposes, I really can’t overstress the importance of a prominent and well-designed logo. The site should be color coordinated to follow the logo’s design. In some cases, logos are not colorful, in which case you should pick a theme that identifies with your logo.

Navigation

When it comes to navigation, unless you’re a computer-programming, SaaS addict, keep it simple. Your page should be simple and clean. You should have a basic landing hub and an easy yet pleasing layout.  The location of objects should be logical. I am a fan of ring-topography. Tabled links in a dashboard are the safe route to go. Use infinite scrolling sparingly, as it can make navigation annoying!

Content

Finally, content is critical. Content needs to be delivered in an intuitive way. Users should be able to consume as much or as little content as they want, at any given time. If you are a provider of mass content, then you need to control the binge reaction that many users have; Present easily digestible units of information.  Provide clear messages in a solid a stream or in an organized order.

A last word on content: be wise with how you incorporate your ads. Popups interstitial are a bad idea, for the most part. Always try to use banners and other non-intrusive approaches when possible, because ads that annoy users will generate bad PR for both your site and the advertised company. Don’t let anyone lie and tell you there’s no such thing as bad PR – because it absolutely exists.

I’ve outlined the most basic website usability guidelines. They are guidelines for the veterans as well as for those just getting into the website industry. Until you have time to really master the science behind usability, think of these guidelines as some good ‘rules of thumb!’

Jessica Miller
Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.
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