352 Inc. / Digital Marketing / December 3rd, 2008

Common Web Site Usability Issues to Avoid

A user friendly Web site is one of the most important factors to keep users coming back. Whether it’s making a purchase or information gathering, people are visiting your site for a reason. If visitors can’t find the information they need or can’t easily accomplish their task, then you can expect them to go someplace else…like your competitors Web site perhaps? 

Here are some common Web site usability issues to avoid:

Inconsistent Confusing Site Navigation
Your site navigation should be consistent throughout the entire Web site. Make your navigation titles clear and meaningful so users know what information is under each section.

Misleading Registration Forms
I had a client once who wanted to make their two part form have a “Submit” button on the first part rather than “Next” or “Continue.” Misleading users into thinking they are done with a form when really there are more steps to follow is not the route to take. If a form is long, then split it up into multiple steps and show the user where they are with each step. This is a good rule-of-thumb for registration and checkout on e-commerce sites.

Long Paragraphs and Difficult to Scan Content
Content is king. Users scan and search for information on the Web. Users rarely read the content line by line. Your visitors know what they want and they are determined to find it. Use appropriate headings, action words, bullets and tables to convey information that is easy for the user to see.

Misidentified and Unidentifed Links
Make links underlined and/or a different font color than the other text. Avoid underlining words/phrases that aren’t links. It’s frustrating for users when clicking on an underlined word results in no action. Although, some Web sites make links a different color on mouse rollover…this is ok but some users are not intuitive enough to know it’s a link without that minor differentiation.

Hiding Content from Unregistered Users
T
his is an annoying experience I often encounter; after searching for something on Google, and I find the information I need, but I have to be a member or fill out some long ridiculous form in order to view it? No bueno. Frequently, I will ditch that Web site and find information elsewhere that doesn’t require registration. Ask yourself if there is a better way to entice users to register on my site—perhaps a newsletter signup?

Searching for Contact Information
Usually visitors to your site are looking for some way to contact you. Make it easy for the users to find your contact information to submit both positive and constructive feedback.
Usability Serves Us Well

You can avoid a cluttered and confusing Web site by developing a Web site that allows your visitors to intuitively perform the actions they need to perform.  Presenting information clearly and concisely to visitors will help them to find exactly what information they are seeking and complete their task with no problems. You can accomplish a user friendly Web site by giving visitors the correct choices in an obvious way.