Apple Pioneer Steve Jobs once described design as “not just what it looks like and feels like, but design is how it works.” When it comes to the most usable websites, the visual impression that you get from a site is a very important accompaniment to the practicality of how fast you can attain the information you are looking for and accomplish your browsing goals.
There are over a billion websites, and if you look closely there are even a few not solely dedicated to cat videos and memes.
The most usable websites employ similar effective design principles that cater towards the purpose of the user. Information is communicated in a clear and minimalistic way. Simple, easy to navigate layouts and quick load times are also staples of the most usable websites.
Additionally, catering towards the mobile revolution with mobile friendly sites and apps is becoming almost a usability requirement for getting a leg up in the competitive webspace of 2016.
2016’s Most Usable Websites
E-Commerce – Product Search to Checkout in 30 seconds
Amazon – What makes Amazon so effective is the sheer selection of products available at your fingertips and the very efficient search function with which to find them. Filters allow you to specify the exact brands and price ranges you are looking for. Highly organized Product descriptions, zoom-able images, and particularly the extensive customer review system allow users to find out all they would want to know about a product before purchasing.
The actual purchasing method is simple and intuitive as well. “Add to Cart”; “Wishlist”; or “Buy with One-Click” – It’s extremely easy to spend your money on Amazon.
Ebay, Etsy, Craigslist – Markedly unique sites that allow users to auction and sell off their own personal items or creations. These are well-known options, but what makes these sites so effective is the functional efficiency of their design. Etsy has a cleaner layout than Ebay in accordance with the artsy nature of the listings.
Craigslist in particular though looks like a site from the 80’s, but the simple organized newspaper type listing layout keeps the site popular for finding everything. This shows how important effective functional organization is.
Movies – Quick Rentals and Reviews
Netflix – Perhaps a product of the digital pirating revolution, Netflix has adapted and carved out a place in the entertainment market thanks to the convenience and organization of its searchable movie database. A simple and effective genre based layout with easy to read block fonts makes it super easy to “Netflix and Chill”.
Rotten Tomatoes – The most trusted name in Movie Reviews. Search for a movie and you will see a fresh or rotten rating pop up right there in the search bar. In-depth reviews follow from a wide range of critics. Aside from the central purpose of the site there is a whole ecosphere of blogs and discussion on the site for movie lovers.
E-learning – Learn Anything
Khan Academy – Started by Hedge fund manager / Electrical Engineer Sal Khan as a series of Youtube videos to help his nephew with Physics homework, Khan Academy has become his full time job and bloomed into an online academy with courses to learn literally every K-12 STEM subject, as well as offering computer programming intro courses and admission test prep instruction. Khan Academy is completely free and is empowering students the world over.
Duolingo – This is another free e-learning site that allows users to learn a wide host of languages. This site depends on user generated courses that must adhere to Duolingo’s standards. Duolingo provides a beautiful website layout that seamlessly integrates with the mobile app for a very convenient micro-learning solution. The user experience is very straightforward and learners are guided through a learning tree on their way to gaining an introductory footing in their language of choice.
From these brief examples, we can see some of the dynamic utility of today’s most usable websites – from commerce to entertainment to education. These wildly successful sites all share the common trait of having a clear vision of what they want to provide to the user. If you are starting up your own e-commerce site, blog, or whatever your website vision is, it’s important to keep in mind the principles that make effective websites so effective.