Once the core development and design for a website is developed, usability becomes the most important aspect for a website.
Imagine: that your website has been developed on one of the most latest and advanced technology. In addition to that, your website has one of the most intriguing and beautiful designs for itself. But the overall blend of design and script is not usable for its audience. This simply retards the purpose of the website and sends all of the efforts to garbage.
So in short, Usability is the science which makes a website work for its audiences in the desired manner. Usability is a blend of design, technology and content which only intrigues its audiences but is the leading factor in retaining them.
“Something which is not usable is not sellable.”
Disheartening, but as a matter of fact, usability is still overlooked quite often in most of the websites. Even when it’s one of the most important aspects of a website, still most of the websites usually rank quite low in usability. There are various factors owing to which usability is not justified, to name a few:
- Weaker Analysis of Requirements: Prior to a website is developed, enough time should be spent in analyzing the purpose of the project, planning in all directions (including design, development, content etc.) and assuring that the expectations of the stake holders as well as the audience are duly met. Owing to the fast moving world, this step is primarily overlooked in many of the websites which certainly creates a problem for usability at a later stage.
- Overwhelmed or Troubled with other Aspects: The clients and the contributing team(s) are either overwhelmed or troubled with other aspects of website development such as development, designing, content etc. Thus in such a vague, the usability factors are often ignored.
- Understandability and Grasping: Many a times, the contributing team(s) lack the level of understanding, grasping power and capabilities to recommend and design the desired level of usability. Designing an appropriate usability does require ample time to spend in understanding the expectations of the targeted audience. For example, in a social networking website a user would always like to be updated with notifications and in an eCommerce website a user would always like to know, how much they have spent or they have to spend in purchasing a product. The lack of “Know How” about the expectations of targeted audience finally results in low level of usability.
- Increased Costs: Contributing team(s) often bid for website/projects in a cut-to-neck prices to generate huge figure of sales. Owing to this, they have low budget left to accommodate high standards of usability. Until reported/argued by the clients, they usually plan to skip usability as much as possible.
- Sheer Ignorance: Last but not the least, certainly ignorance is one of the most common factor which results in low level of usability in websites.
After a certain level of achievements in development and design, the magnitude of success for a website is certainly dependent upon its degree of usability. Here are some of the common/popular features which are important in respect to the usability of a website:
- Simplicity: A website should never be overcrowded with too many things. It does confuses a user and thus deviates from what he is doing or what the website owner expects him to do. A website should be simple, well organized and should direct the user to the target set of activities swiftly.
- Fast-loading pages: Pages which take too much of time to load irritate a user. For some functionality users are still prepared to spend more time such as chat pages, live broadcasts, whiteboard etc. but this isn’t true with most of the pages. Thus it is important to ensure that the pages of a website are optimized for fast loading.
- Scrolling Rules: A page should never have a horizontal scroll as it becomes very important with a two way scrolling for a user to review all of the contents of the pages. The standard of computing is only the vertical scroll, especially when it comes to web pages. Along with it, it should be taken care that the pages should not have too much of vertical scroll. Too much vertical scroll also irritates a user to go back n forth and review the information. Though, recently parallax designs are in trend, which actually materializes on the concept of scrolling. In such cases, when the trend defines this rule, it can certainly be neglected but not in any other case.
- Consistent Layout: Websites should have a consistent layout throughout. This helps a user to understand the structure of a website and thus makes easier for a user to expect what could be next and browse the website easily for the desired results.
- Easy Navigation: Navigation is the most important aspect for any website. Users get irritate if they have to remember a series of link to reach a particular page which is not related with those pages directly. A proper Global Navigation should be designed for pages open to search engines and pages without login.
- Cross-platform/browser Compatibility: The importance of cross platform/browser compatibility has already been explained in the earlier part of this document. Cross platform/browser compatibility is certainly an important factor for easier access and thus usability.
- Concluding Messages: On many of the activities of a user on a website, users expect some resultant statement from the system. Such as when the users register on a website, they need to know whether it has been successful or failed and so on. Thus these success/failure or status messages are very important for the users to confidently browse through a website.
- Simplify Forms: As much as possible, the forms available on any website should be simplified. Long forms are often irritating and should be minimized to an optimum structure. In case long forms are unavoidable, then similar information should be grouped and some separators should be used in viable capacity.
- Usability Tools & Testing: There are many tools available on Internet to aid to usability of a website. Also the testers do specific testing to enhance the usability. Both of these are very important measures to be taken for any website.