Blog > Google's Usability Issues Explained
Posted By Create
Usability has a major impact on the ability of websites to build dedicated customer bases who keep coming back to an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It incorporates every aspect of a website and begins the first time a customer lands on the homepage.
As a website developer/owner you want your visitor to be instantly engaged and able to successfully navigate to their desired goal, be that to learn more about your business or to purchase the product they're looking for. This first impression can start a relationship between your website and your visitor that lasts for years and it's integral to your business's online presence.
Think About Site Structure
One part of ensuring that your website is set up to provide this valuable user experience is to take the time to structure your navigation menus, such as a Main Menu, Side Menu or Footer Menu, so that your customer can find relevant content quickly and easily.
The most important part of this is focused on one word: relevant. It's no good cutting down your navigational menu to three items so visitors can make a quick decision if they spend ten minutes on a page trying to find the actual information they are looking for.
There is an art to this which is based around a principle commonly known as “Information Architecture”. Information Architecture is an emerging discipline focused on the science of organising and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support findability and usability.
Large websites do this with the help of usability testing and practices to ensure that they are enabling their visitors to find content relevant to them. These tests and practices help gain an overview of where a visitor to a website expects certain information to be and the words/labels that they understand as relevant to categories of content.
There are many points that can be gathered from testing of Information Architecture to help create a basic guiding principle of how to structure your navigation to ensure that you are providing your customers with a pleasant experience.
- Keep It Simple and Descriptive. Your visitors should be able to understand labels and know where they are leading the first time they read them. Labelling your “Blog” as the “Important stuff you should know from my inner thoughts” is a sure fire way to confuse visitors and stop them from clicking through to check out your carefully constructed blog posts.
Relevance Is Key. Providing a link to your “Shop” page that then has a whole page introduction about the history of your company, products and ethos will frustrate your customers and you will get many drop off as they likely have a specific goal in mind. Remove this irrelevant information and watch your “Shop” page bounce rate decrease.
Categories Matter. If you have a large structure of pages, and especially if you are using drop-down menus, ensure that pages containing similar information are grouped together for a natural search progression. For example, pages to do with the “History of the Company”, “Current Employees” and “Company Ethos” can all be grouped under the same main label of “About Us” but don't include your “Terms and Conditions” in here as well. Any visitors wanting to find out about your returns policy will spend wasted time looking for this information. A useful practice behind choosing how you should categorise your information is Card Sorting.
Put Yourself In Your Visitors' Shoes. Think about a goal that you would want to achieve as a visitor to your website and then try to achieve it. It is useful to get friends and family to carry this out for you as well, as you may completely understand the reason you have added that useful bit of information in that location but it might make no sense to them at all. Where do you find difficulties in reaching your goal? What are the reasons behind these difficulties? Record and fix these issues.
Use Statistics and Data. Analytics programs give you a huge insight into the way that visitors use your website. They are not just useful for SEO practices but also for seeing where visitors become disengaged with your website. Do you have a page that has a higher bounce rate or exit rate than the average? Review this page and try to discover why this may be the case. Confused? Check out our brief Introduction to Site Statistics for some helpful info.