Our Website Usability Checklist

Today, I’m going to take the opportunity to talk about the best and most basic website usability checklist.

In essence, a website usability checklist should include a list of actions and procedures. These procedures should be written in a set order and should be followed when performing all phases of usability testing; including usability planning and surveying.

Your personal website usability checklist may vary to mine, regarding the order or the details. That’s good. You should create a list dependent on your website’s philosophy, purpose and resources.

This checklist is one-size-fits-all and is applicable to anyone who is working on a website, especially to those of you who don’t have access to professional services or the time to research website usability data.

So, let’s get going.

#1 – Accessibility
Accessibility is one of the most important aspects of website design, and therefore, this is priority number one. If issues in accessibility crop up, then all other issues are immediately put on the back burner.

You must have quick load times over all types of bandwidth and on all types of devices. Make sure that readability is clean and that applets and media rich VM plugins are used very sparingly. Always be aware whether your images are being compressed properly. Covering access error systems such as a ‘404 page’ is also important for accessibility.

#2 – Identity
Once your site is readable and able to serve its users properly, identity is next in line. Digital Identity for a company is basically its branding.
Aesthetics and theme are a huge part of your website. Make sure that your logo is attractive, prominent and cleanly designed. Taglines should properly represent your mission. Finally, your logo should be in the background header of each landing page.

#3 – Navigation
Navigation comes next. The layout and interface of the entire structure must be intuitive and clear. Just as large business buildings present visitors with floor and company directories (often visually mapped out) at entrances, your navigation must be mapped out. Users should instantly be able to find what they need on the landing page.

Avoid confusion from the get-go, Create labels that are clear and obvious. The number of links and buttons you highlight should be tasteful and placed in strategic locations.  Descriptions should be short and to-the-point.

Test out whether your home page can be digested by viewers in five seconds or less. Is your company information easy to locate? Can a user find your contact information or other resources?

#4 – Content
Once your website has covered accessibility – aesthetics and navigation – it’s time to talk about content. This is where your checklist will vary, depending on the goals of your company. In general, include: clear descriptions, clean headings, consistent style sheets and an emphasis on critical content. All titles and tags should be self-explanatory.

Along with content comes a necessary evil: your ads. Make sure pop ups, interstitial and other ad forms are unobtrusive. Try to maintain white space and don’t disrupt the users flow or navigation.

The four features listed above make up the basic usability checklist. While it’s a general list, it has all the components needed for planning and testing out website usability. Good Luck!