The festive season is nearly upon us and those of us who do not leave our Christmas shopping to the last minute on Christmas Eve, may have already started to cast about on the web for THE perfect present for him, her and the dog.
Invariably, you will come across websites that you will quickly navigate away from; somehow this is not a conscious decision, it just seems to happen. And there may have been many reasons why…
It doesn’t feel, look or sound right.
We came across a brilliant, frank and comprehensive usability checklist that should you choose to work through it, will ‘catch common usability problems’ on websites. If your website does not strike the right chord with the consumer – trust, authority and security – then you could be losing an awful lot of sales.
Here, we have highlighted some of the more common aspects that you may need to take a look at on your website in order to answer the question, is it cutting the mustard?
To publish the whole thing here would be keeping you logged on till Christmas, but all flippancy aside, we believe that the very comprehensive nature of the checklist highlights just how important your website or online presence is to your evolving business.
Frankly, if it is not sleek and delightfully easy to use, then your website falls way below standard. Here we have summarised the key points from under each heading…
This looks at everything from currency, language as well as pricing being clearly displayed. It also suggests that users are look for measures of credibility. For example, on Locally’s newly designed and launched website, we have several written ‘references’ from people who have been more than happy with the websites we have designed them, along with the service we offer. We do this, like many other business, to lend a sense of credibility and authority to our website.
This section has 7 areas that the checklist suggests that you look at in detail.
Your homepage invariably is the landing page – the first page – that your website visitors and potential customers see; the feel of this page needs to be spot on! There is no room for error.
As well as checking for the obvious spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, the checklist suggest 8 additional checks such as a clear to call action (tell your customer what they need or must do!), along with all the important information the visitor needs to know. It also suggests that all images and video used needs to be relevant to the page.
This section has 4 checks that all play an important part in ensuring that your visitors can access the parts of the website they need quickly and easily. It points to technical aspects of your website that are not immediately obvious and to factors which you think may not be important… but they are! For example, when a customer hovers their mouse over a graphic, what is the caption that is displayed…?
This section is about how your website is mapped, especially in the case of larger websites; sitemaps are important and that any links are descriptive – the ‘click here’ is no longer sufficient! It also suggests that sorting information is not done along alphabetical lines, unless there is no better way of doing it. Customers, it seems, prefer information to be grouped in sections that are related e.g. items and accessories that are related to ‘kitchens’, and another section for ‘bathrooms’ etc. How is the information navigable on your website?
Being able to search your website quickly and easily is important, and it seems that websites that have this function stand head and shoulders above the rest. The search facility needs to be on every page, in the same place. But a common pet hate, it seems, that customers detest are search bars that are too narrow or small, meaning that as they type the words or phrase becomes obscured.
According to the usability list, important commands should not be links, but buttons such as ‘pay now’ etc. and small details make all the difference; for example, the colour of a link changes once a customer has clicked on it.
But the most important part of this section is making sure that any links of your website are still active; there is nothing more off-putting for a potential customer when they click on a link only to find that it is broken one.
This is section that looks at more than just the aesthetic appeal of a website; for example, is all the important information a customer needs at the top of the page?
Is the layout, design, colours etc. and the ‘feel’ of the website consistent throughout the website? And finally, is your website responsive? This section also includes that website should fit the screen of the user – did you know that horizontal scrolling was a non-no?!
This section of the checklist looks at the whole practical process of building and testing a website; with the excitement of either a new or re-vamped website taking over, companies and business tend to have a habit of launching it… without really checking every single aspect of their website and hence, the small but important ‘teething issues’ are not spotted and repaired prior to launch. This can not only mark you down with customers, it can also cause problems in the all-seeing eyes of search engines…
Just like you wouldn’t launch an expensive advertising campaign in the press without intense consideration, launching your website should go through the same process of consideration and goal-setting.
Increasingly, websites are inviting customers to be part of a newsletter drop or a ‘join’ a website and this necessitates forms. However, it seems that customers are put off by lengthy, complicated forms hence, this checklist has 5 essential must-check factors, from your form supporting auto-fill and being simple, usable forms rather than lengthy version that seem to collect information that feels superfluous (why do you need to know how old you customers are?!)
Finally, is the section on content that has 6 must-check factors:
- Contrast between text and background
- Content is ‘scannable’. That is, customers and visitors are able to scan down the page, looking for key information they need
- Written in language that is understandable
- Contact and company information clearly displayed
- Content is useful and up-to-date
- Upper case letters are avoided unless they are in the right place!
Having the right look and feel to a website is more than just pretty pictures and flashy bits; there is far more to creating a delightful, successful website. Is your website due a re-model?
Check out the FULL checklist – how does your website do?