Are You Making These Deadly Website Usability Mistakes?

Web usability is about providing the best user experience possible. The easier your website is to use, the likelier it is that your visitors will convert into customers. Ignoring usability guidelines, on the other hand, greatly increases the odds of frustrating and confusing your visitors, causing them to click “back” to leave your website.

To help you improve the usability of your website, I’ve come up with a list of the most common website usability mistakes people make. I’m sure I’ve left some important mistakes off this list, so please add to this list by leaving a comment.

• Confusing navigation—Web users have been trained that site navigation will usually be across the top or on the left-hand side of the website. Placing your navigation elsewhere could confuse them and cause them to leave your website. In addition to properly placing your website navigation, make sure the links are descriptive so that the user can easily find the page he is looking for.

• Difficult to read text—If visitors have a hard time reading the text on your website, you might as well pack it up and call it a day because your website won’t be effective. People shouldn’t have to squint really hard to read your text or need to highlight it because the contrast is so low. Make sure you use easy-to-read fonts, a proper font size, and a good contrast between the text and the background.

• Intro pages—You don’t see these as much anymore, but I still stumble across them every now and again. Whenever someone visits your website, don’t greet them with an intro page that makes them click an “Enter” link to take them to your real homepage. It’s a waste of time, and you’ll lose a significant amount of your visitors. Remember, you have just 8 seconds on average to convince a new visitor to stay on your website. Don’t waste that precious time with a meaningless intro page.

• Large blocks of text—By now, you probably already know that online users tend to scan content rather than read it word for word. This means you need to present your website content in a way that is easy-to-scan. Instead of having large blocks of text, break your content down into short paragraphs, bullet points, and lists. Use bolded headings to highlight important information and to create titles for each section.

• Difficult to find contact information—When your customers have a question or they want to place an order, your contact information should be right there to greet them. I’m a big believer in placing contact forms and your contact info somewhere on each page of your website. Additionally, you should have a dedicated “Contact Us” page that is clearly listed in your site navigation.

• No search box—Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen says that more than half of all users are search-dominant. These people usually go straight for the search box when they enter a website so they can find the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. If you don’t have a search box on your website, you risk losing these individuals.

Which website usability mistakes would you add to this list? Leave a comment with your best suggestion.

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  • Not meeting the visitors expectation of a link.

    For instance, the link text suggests that a page is going to be about topic X but it is only vaguely related to it or not at all.

    That will frustrate your visitors and probably make them question whether or not the next link they were considering clicking on is going to meet their expectation or just going to waste their time.