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Websites have come a long way since 1995. Or have they?
We’ve seen strides in design and coding, and many companies revamp their websites every few years to account for this. Updating your website’s design and code are critical, but many startups do this without taking into account the changing ways we use technology. Not thinking about the user might be costing you visitors and conversions.
We see a lot of business applications that have not changed since the 1970s. In some cases, the interface has been modified to switch from a terminal to windows, to mobile applications. However, these modifications have not taken into account or integrated the aspects of site usability that would benefit users.
What is usability?
In short, usability focuses on how someone interacts with the site. What buttons do they click? Does the site take forever to load, sending them elsewhere? Are there broken links, frustrating him or her during a search? Does the filter or search function work well and produce the desired results? Does the navigation make sense?
What do people want?
The first step in figuring out your best usability is knowing who is using your site.
The demographics of internet users today is leaning toward millennials and Gen Zers. However, your product or service may target a different group. Your marketing and SEO teams can likely offer insight about your targets. Regardless, more and more people are using mobile devices, so that’s the first step: Make your website responsive, so that it looks good and functions well on all screens.
The importance of optimizing your site for mobile use is reflected in data released by StatCounter. This study showed the percentage of internet usage from phones and tablets (51.3 percent) beat out that of desktop computers (48.7 percent) for the first time in history.
How to optimize your website
Optimizing your website for users means approaching it from their point of view. Create a straightforward design that directs visitors efficiently and effectively through the process.
Here are some areas on which to focus:
- Load time: According to Google, the average time it takes to load the average mobile landing page fully is 22 seconds. But 53 percent of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
- Navigation: The navigation should be clear. While you can get creative with names and location, people are used to seeing the navigation at the top with pages such as “About” and “Contact” giving them a direct understanding of what to expect there. Without navigation optimization, potential customers may abandon your site and find what they were looking for elsewhere. Furthermore, unclear navigation structures can negatively impact your SEO.
- Accessibility: If a blind person is browsing your website, what will his or her software read aloud? What will the page “look” like in that way? Accessibility is becoming more important for SEO and is a critical approach in reaching older and visually impaired audiences.
Focus on forms
Forms are a standard feature of most business websites. That might be a simple “Contact Us” form or one to subscribe to a newsletter. Your forms might be more complicated, for shipping or making a purchase.
Forms are one of the most overlooked areas of website usability, and there are better ways to approach them. For example:
- Size: Filling out a form on a 6-inch smartphone screen is challenging. Make forms respond to the screen size, so they adjust, with larger fields for smartphones.
- Voice: Voice search is becoming more common. Can you create a form that people fill out using voice? Voice controls enable the user to navigate through your pages with ease, instead of painstakingly pressing a button for verification through each step.
- Saving: Nothing is more frustrating than filling out a form and clicking “submit” only to discover that you missed a field — and now you now have to retype all of your information. Make sure your forms save data if the page refreshes to alert people of a missed field. Even better, it’s now possible to create forms that validate without the user having to click a button, wait, and see if it worked.
- Reduce clutter: Make sure the form page is free of extra clutter and content. Make it easy for people to find the form.
- Color: Use complimentary colors to make your form stand out.
- Easy signup: Give users the option of signing up with their social media account for a one-click process.
- Minimize fields: Do you really need 16 fields of information? Boil your form down to the bare minimum so consumers aren’t overwhelmed by the form.
Convert to customers
The next step is to analyze your startup’s site and decide which aspects need revamping and updating. Don’t lag behind as a site that hasn’t improved user capabilities. Now is the time to learn how technology can make your website more natural for users to navigate.