Affiliate Marketing, Low Cost Web Hosting, Small Business, Website Building February 26th. 2010, 6:37am
Like anyone else, you have your favorite websites. Have you ever looked at them critically to find out why those websites are your favorites? Chances are, competing websites offer you the same resources and services as your favorites. Why do you stick with them? Usability probably has something to do with it. Want your customers to mark your site as a favorite? Then make sure it’s usable!
Usability is the part of how to build a website that has to do with making things easy and fun for your users. On a website with good usability, your customers can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. They don’t have to hunt to find your product listings or their shopping cart. They don’t have to strain their eyes to read your copy against a distracting or badly colored background. Information relevant to what they want is listed the most prominently. Things like that.
Obvious, right? It is! What gets in a lot of people’s way is their personal understanding of what “obvious” is. That is, I can design a webpage that looks perfectly simple and user-friendly to me. It looks easy to read and simple to navigate. Everything should be fine!
The problem is, that others may see things differently. We can’t always rely on our personal tastes and judgment when designing something for public view. We also need to consider the facts.
Fortunately, facts are readily available for us to consider. Over the years, a lot of impressive studies have been done looking at how people view webpages. Researchers have studied what people like and don’t like, the paths their eyes follow as they travel across the screen, and more. Much of this information has been distilled into some great tried-and-true principles that anyone can use.
So you don’t have to be a scientist, and you don’t have to be a professional web designer. You just need to keep a few things in mind when deciding where your navigation should be and how you should lay out your page. With the right low cost hosting, you may even find that the available templates already incorporate many good usability principles.
Designing your page with usability keeps your customers happy, helping to generate return visits. That’s good for your business, good for your affiliate business program partners—good for everybody involved!
If you want, you can get pretty involved in usability. Many find learning about how humans interact with the Web to be a fascinating pursuit. There are also plenty of companies and consultants who, for a charge, will offer to evaluate your website’s usability for you. They’re reports typically include a number of practical steps you can take to increase your site’s attractiveness and ease.
With the availability of free tips, pointers, and practical suggestions, however, you might want to put off paying for a professional evaluation of your site. Basic usability is something you can do yourself. And if you have outsourced your web design to a consultant, usability should already be built in. In fact, if your web design consultant can’t immediately point to the usability features of your site, including specific principles documented in the research, that consultant isn’t earning his pay.