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Increase your site’s usability

Golden rules to a more user friendly website

A good looking website isn’t necessarily a good performing one. When designing your own website or briefing your designer you need to think about how your readers behave online and how you can make your website easier for them to use. There are lots of things you can do but the following golden rules will help to get you started.

1. See – Scan – Click

Readers will see headings and key information, scan large paragraphs of text and click to learn more if they need to. Make sure you break any text up in to bite size chunks which are easy to read. Use headings and bullet points to highlight important information

2. Top left is primary real estate

Think about the way that you read a printed page of text – your eye goes to the top left of the page first. The same applied on the web. Readers will look at the top left of our site first – often without realising it! You need the most elements of your site around that magic top left space. It might be your logo and brand name, it might be text or navigation. It all depends on what you want users to do when they reach your site. A blog wants users to read their content, an ecommerce site wants users to start searching for products to buy – their objectives are very different.

3. Think about the fold.

The fold is the point at which you need to scroll down the website to see more content. You need to make sure that any must see information or special offers are above the fold – otherwise you risk you readers not scrolling and not seeing them. If you have a special offer of 50% off for example, this needs to be towards the top of your page. The most common screen size is 1366×768* which should give you an idea of the screen size you should be optimising your site towards.

*Source of information

4. Links – make ‘em obvious

A simple “click here” isn’t always enough to make it obvious that something is clickable. Make sure your links are underlined and a different colour to the rest of your next – not black. Blue is probably the most ideal colour as it’s what we are used to when browsing the web and search engines – though if blue clashes with your site another colour would do.

5. Be wary of flash

Flash and animation can make your site look pretty cool, but it can also be annoying and is not supported by apple products such as iPhones and iPads. If you are using Flash then make sure you are using it sparingly and that there is an alternative version of your site available for those who don’t have flashplayer.

Guest blogger Gemma Screen – Head of Campaigns at Sift Media
A prolific tweeter and social media enthusiast. Gemma has a wealth of experience in digital media and advising organisations on how to successfully promote their business online. – Follow Gemma on twitter @Gemma_Screen