A Gift for Web Visitors Usability!

What does your web site say about your business? The reality today is that your web site represents your entire company, and visitors make judgments about your business based on their impression of your web site. Often, businesses focus on creating a professional image, which of course is vitally important for making a good first impression. But what is often overlooked is the value of web site usability, which can be even more important to your online success.

We’ve all seen web sites that look great, but the important information is buried, unclear, or just plain missing. Most users will spend a few minutes attempting to find what they are looking for, but then abandon the site to find another that is easier to use. Making sure your site is usable is like a gift to your visitors that pays back rewards in customer satisfaction and a positive user experience. If visitors like your site and find it easy to use, they will come back.

When designing or re-designing your company web site, visitor satisfaction should be the guiding principle. A good, consistent navigation system is essential for any web site, especially sites with a lot of pages. Use a common menu system on all pages and include drop-downs or sub-categories if necessary. Make sure your visitors can get to any page on your site, yet find their way back “home” easily. Keep your navigation design to only two or three levels deep, and always include a site map. The end result will be visitors who can find their way around your web site and get to the information they need quickly and easily.

Sometimes, businesses find they have differing goals for their web sites, depending on which department you talk to. Goals range from “make the investors happy” to “meet the deadline no matter what” and everything in between. Although these are things you probably have to consider, keep the goal focused on the user experience and it will pay off in the end.

Paying attention to your web site’s usability adds enormous value. The advantages to a web site development process that incorporates usability standards results in fewer problems or “bugs,” and increases customer satisfaction when your site goes live. It all comes down to the end-user experience, the ultimate test for a successful, useful, and profitable web site.

Lauren Hobson of Five Sparrows, LLC, is the author of the Five Sparrows Biz Talk eNewsletter. Biz Talk is a free, subscription-based publication designed to help small businesses with web sites and marketing initiatives without spending a lot of money. To subscribe, please go to http://www.fivesparrows.com/biztalk.htm

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