[caption id="attachment_610" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Photo by Claudia Regina[/caption]
Is your relationship with your web visitors exclusive or are they seeing other people? If they aren't making your site their first stop for reliable information in your niche and recommending you to everyone they know, then a large part of the problem is likely usability.
Usability is about ease of use and the user experience (UX) while on your site (see the Nielsen Norman Group for more on this). As Hubspot recently discovered, 76% of consumers want a site to make it easy to find the information they want when they want it - and that's what you need to address to put your relationship with web users on the right track. Here are five actions you can take today.
1. Optimize for Speed
When you visit a site where pages take forever to load, you usually don't stick around. Check your bounce rate to see if people are leaving your site before they have had time to look at anything. If it's high, then it's possible that page load speed could be the issue. All kinds of things can slow your site down, from poorly developed themes and designs, to plugins and scripts to large images. A good free tool to help you troubleshoot page speed issues is GTMetrix
. Just plug in the URL you want to analyze and you will get a color coded chart showing all the things that are slowing your site, along with recommendations on how to improve them.
2. Streamline Navigation
Another important usability issue is navigation
. To be usable, navigation needs to:
- be where people expect to find it (usually top, and sometimes left or right)
- point to the main information people are looking for.
- be labeled so people know what they will get when they click.
But for users, navigation is not just about the menu, it's about other things that make it easy to find their way around your content. That's why you also need a prominent search box that works and ways to find collections of content on the same theme (like category labels or tag clouds on blogs).
3. Lose the Flash
We get it - some people love a flashy design. That's fine, but it doesn't mean you have to build it with Flash. Just don't do it. It may be visually appealing, but it's not SEO-friendly and it's definitely not user-friendly. Those beautiful splash pages and landing pages with whizzy animations may take ages to load - or may not load at all - in some browsers. And if visitors to your site are using a modern Android phone
or tablet, they probably won't be able to see them at all
. The good news is that you can get some great effects with HTML5, which is viewable on practically all devices and platforms.
4. Make it Accessible
Most people these days know they should add alt tags and captions to images. This is not just about SEO but about making them accessible to users who may be interacting with your site in different ways. Visually impaired web users may use screen readers to tell them what's on the site - without alt tags your images and multimedia won't be described. And it's time to stop asking people to "click here". Instead, make sure hyperlinks say where users will be going when they click. We've summarized the WCAG 2.0 provisions
from the World Wide Web Consortium - see how your site matches up.
5. Make it Responsive and Mobile
Even if you have addressed speed, navigation and accessibility, you still have to do it all again - this time with mobile. The Mobile Mind Shift
is here - and any site that's not ready will lose users and business. Guaranteed. Make mobile users happy by either:
- implementing a responsive design that works no matter what device people are using.
- getting an interface that's adapted for mobile users, allowing them to tap, swipe and long press to interact with content.
Address these five areas and your site visitors will have a better user experience, helping them to fall in love with your website.