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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Usability and Your Website

By Gary Klingsheim

Usability seems like a simple concept, right? The goal is to make the website as functional as possible for your customers. It's just good customer service. You're doing what you can to help your users find exactly what they're looking for at every turn, and in the end, you get better profits and more customers as a result. If it's such a simple concept, though, why are there thousands of tutorials, sites, and services dedicated to this one concept? The reality is that usability isn't always as easy as you might imagine, but these tips can dramatically improve your usability level.

Before you launch

Have a new company? Just finishing a site redesign? Either way, a usability study is an absolute must before you ever even consider going live. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be a difficult concept. The goal here is to get real users to test your design and find the bugs that might keep users from accomplishing their goals once they visit your site. You, quite literally, want to find out how "usable" your design is. If you're an existing business with an email list, offer the chance to beta test your site to a few customers on your list. Attach a reward to the process, and you're likely to get a lot of customers who are interested. If you're a start-up, consider doing a little social networking to get some real users. Talk to Facebook friends or LinkedIn buddies who might be willing to take a closer look at your new site and see what they think.

Once You've Launched

Looking at usability can't exist in a vacuum. It's not just something you do as you get ready to launch a new website. Instead, it has to be something that you look at as an ongoing process. You should always encourage customers to get involved improving your site design. Ask, on an ongoing basis, for critiques and feedback that you can incorporate into your design changes as you move forward.

If you're planning to upgrade the technology behind the site, don't forget to factor usability in there, too. Your goal has to be progressive enhancement. Make sure it all looks good at the core level, then scale upward for those devices that can deal with the shift. For example, imagine you're using CSS3 to power your site. Not all browsers can deal with CSS3, so if your site design doesn't work on those, you're going to be alienating customers that haven't yet upgraded. As you make your updates, be sure you're not distancing yourself from any customers.

Utilizing Resources

Usability is a well-discussed topic. There are literally thousands of sites devoted to improving usability, some more technical than others. In addition to that, though, there are also hundreds of print and ebooks that are devoted to the same topic, and new research comes out on an almost daily basis. Staying on top of that research is really the key to maintaining usability throughout your site, even in today's changing landscape. If you don't understand usability or you don't have the time to address it, turn to your web design professionals to ensure your site stays as user-friendly as possible at all times. They'll be able to guide you from update to update to help make certain your users can connect with your site and boost your sales.

Staying on top of everything can be tricky, which is why many people look to web design experts to help them with their website. It is the job of these experts to stay on top of all of this type of research, and utilizing them as a resource may be one of the best moves you ever made for your site. Aim to make your site as user-friendly as possible and to maintain it as often as you can and you will see a huge difference when it comes to the revenue made on your website.

About the Author:

Are you looking for website development in San Francisco? Then look no further than Moonrise Media as they have the expertise in the mobile, social network design, custom web development, and more.

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