Usability is a huge factor in web design today. With so much content and competition out there, readers are never going to stay on a site that is difficult to use. No matter how good your content is, readers will never stay on a un-usable site to find it. They will navigate away in a second, and find another site that is easier to use and has likely very similar content.
So what does this mean? This means that regardless of how long or hard you work on your content, it won’t matter in the slightest if your site isn’t usable. Usability means the ease of use and learning of your a human made object – and in a website’s case, how long it takes people to figure out how to use and interact with your site. This includes everything from responsiveness, to design, to how the eyes feel when reading. Usability is a huge area, and people now go to school for years to study all the different aspects of it. It is constantly evolving, and it’s almost impossible to stay up to date on what would make a site 100% usable. But, to keep things simple, here are 10 basic things you can ask yourself to start making sure your site is usable.
Does your user know what site they are on as soon as they arrive?
Does your logo appear clear and unpixelated?
Is your logo easy to read and interpret?
Does your user know what your site is about moments after arriving?
Does your site have a description line under the header, or a blurb at the top of the sidebar?
Does your description sum up what you do and entice people to scroll further?
Does your user know how to navigate your site as soon as they arrive?
Are your most important links at a top level? (not in a drop down menu)
Are expected links in your nabber? (contact, about, etc.)
Is your navigation menu at the same place on every page?
Is your content easy for the user to read and interact with?
Is the font a good size and easily readable?
Does your line height offer enough space to read each line easily?
Is there enough contrast between the colours of your font and background?
Can your user tell what is clickable and what isn’t?
Are all your links similar with the same colour or decoration?
Do your links perform a similar action when hovered over?
Can users search for information they are looking for?
Is your search bar easy to find on every page?
Does your search bar work when users try to type into it?
Can your user interact with your content without any distractions?
Do pop ups allow your user to stay on task?
Are animations or moving elements subtle enough to allow the user to focus on the content of the site?
Can your user use your page without getting confused or tired?
Is there enough whitespace on your page to avoid clutter?
Is your page scannable so users can find the information they are looking for?
Do your posts and pages have a consistent layout across the entire site?
Are your site colours pleasing to the eye and easy to work with?
Can users interact with your site easily?
Is the comment area of your site simple to find?
Is it easy to type in and interact with the forms of your site?
Are social network links easy to find and use throughout the site?
Can users interact with your site on any device?
Does your site look good on multiple devices?
Are important site elements still easily accessible on different devices?
If you go through these questions and can answer yes to all of them, that means your site is on its way to being extremely usable and user friendly. Though there is always more to learn, fulfilling these elements is a great place to begin. Though there are tools out there to help test a lot of different elements of web design, usability is not one of them. Usability is about the way that humans interact and use a website, so the only true way to test it is by creating a user test with focus groups and actual human participants. A great thing to consider is actually asking your users once you have a solid following. Create a survey or poll to ask them about different elements of your site’s usability. But make sure you keep things quick and simple – users won’t want to spend too long doing this for you, and too many surveys and distractions means bad usability!