"Businesses that do not optimize their sites' usability will push potential customers to competitors," explained Todd Johnson, managing director of Avatar New York. "Visitors must be able to navigate your site easily, use its features and find the information they're after quickly."
Johnson offered four tips to evaluate and improve a website's usability:
1. Check the Links
Links to unresponsive webpages that return a "404 Error" can frustrate users, but there are several tools that can automatically check for broken links. These include:
Google Webmaster Tools
Xenu's Link Sleuth
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Internal links can affect a site's usability in a number of ways. One important consideration is how the landing page will load. For example, should the landing page load in a new window or in the same window?
The best option depends on the specific circumstances. For example, .pdf documents and different websites often load in new windows, but it is usually best to open pages within the same site in the same window. This will prevent unnecessary tabs from opening, thus improving usability.
2. Use a Test Group
Test groups do not have to be massive; in most cases, one or two fresh perspectives can uncover usability issues that you may not have noticed. To make this process more comprehensive, use a heterogeneous group that represents various ages and demographics.
It may also help to diversify the group with participants who have different levels of technical expertise and Internet experience. If your site caters to a broad audience, then it is important that visitors with limited Web knowledge can navigate it and use its features.
3. Test Any Interactive Features
Use different browsers to test interactive features. Fill out forms, play with the text size, open pictures, and try to reduce and enlarge your images. Of course, the exact features to test will depend on the website. The goal is to make sure that your interactive features work without any load-time issues, restrictions or other problems.
4. Evaluate the Loading Speed
Slow loading speeds will turn visitors away from your site. Also, search engines penalize websites with slow load speeds.
Testing loading times from one location will not provide accurate results. Your office may have a connection with more bandwidth than other visitors' computers, so be sure to check the load speeds from various locations and with different devices. Google PageSpeed Insights can help you with this test.
If your site is slow, then you may be able to speed it up by:
Avatar New York is an innovating, award-winning New York web design firm dedicated to providing clients with responsive websites that help grow brands and convert visitors to customers. With an expertise in web development, branding, cloud hosting, mobile app development, and CMS and e-commerce solutions, Avatar New York's top tier designers have the ability to create intelligent websites for any type of business.