Any web designer will tell you that usability is at the top of their list, but as a designer it is common to focus on aesthetics first and usability second. This mistake is important to acknowledge because it is creating a barrier between “aesthetically pleasing” sites and “functional” sites. As designers, we have to remember we design usability. Below is a list of 8 steps designers should take to ensure site usability:
1. Consistent Branding gives any user a memorable experience with your company. Having a recognizable style throughout your site creates less confusion when browsing and pulls your whole site together.
2. Primary Navigation should be immediately visible and always in the same place. Also, the primary navigation and logo should be above the fold. Any navigation needs to be repeated in the footer so that content can be easily found by the user.
3. Contact needs to be available on every page of your site. Obviously, any company hopes to be easily contacted for potential business. But sometimes helpful users will offer feedback on your site and/or company which can be incredibly useful.
5. Resolve problems using web stats. I came across an on how to do more with Google Analytics than just marketing, and I found it very interesting. One thing in particular, was looking at the conversion rate to improve usability, accessibility, and content.
6. Validate your codes using W3C for assurance that your site will comply. No one enjoys errors and inconsistencies so it is always better to be safe than sorry. Also be sure and check browser compatibility (you can do this at ).
7. Edit copy throughout your site on a regular basis. Misspelled words and punctuation mistakes reflect poorly on a company. Also if it is possible, filter out copy that is unnecessary.
8. Inform the user about you company by providing a little background. It cannot be stressed enough how much of a difference a personal connection with a user will make.