You want people to be able to use your site easily. If they have to think about how to navigate, if they can't read your font, or if they get confused, they will leave. Eliminate barriers so that everyone can access and use your site.
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Jacob Nielsen says "Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word 'usability' also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process."
Readers of websites expect both the writing and the formatting (across the site) to be consistent in tone and style. This may challenge any organization with several writers. One way to maintain consistency is to develop and follow web content standards such as the Recommended Policies and Guidelines for Federal Public websites: Final Report of the Interagency Committee on Government Information (submitted to the Office of Management and Budget, June 9, 2004)
Use these tips for displaying content
- Be consistent! Use:
- Consistent design and color scheme (remember to take into consideration low-vision readers and screen reader users)
- Consistent style for headings
- Consistent navigation
- Use lots of white-space
- Use lots of informative headings
- Take care with links:
- Use plain language
- Use common words
- Be specific
- Be action-oriented
For more tips, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's web content standards.
Test for usability
The only way to know if people can use your site is to ask them There are a variety of testing methods that you can use. Here is a list of resources that can help you:
- Usability.gov — one-stop source for government usability analysts
- Usability studies can increase traffic to your site
- Jacob Nielsen's Usability 101
- Books on usability and user experience
- Training — get training in usability basics
Identify and target your users top tasks
People come to your website with a specific task in mind. If your website doesn’t help them complete that task, they’ll leave. Make sure you know what tasks are important to your users. The references listed above can also help you identify your users and their tasks.