People don’t like to think. Yes, I know. It’s sad but true. But folks are so busy with their businesses, families, and life in general, that they really don’t want to have to think too hard. And your website shouldn’t make them have to think either.
How easy is it for someone to use your website? Are there any spots where they get confused or stuck? Are you focusing on your client’s experience first? You want to make the journey smooth for your website visitors.
My favorite book about website user-friendliness is Steve Krug’s book: Don’t Make Me Think. It was originally published in 2003 and then later updated in 2013.
Whether you’re a solopreneur or have a whole team of people working for you, this book is a great resource for anyone with a website.
Is Your Website Easy to Use?
Is your website easy to use? The term experts use is: “Usability”. And “Usability” is a fancy word that web designers use to describe how easy something is to use.
According to Krug, something is usable if:
“a person of average (or even below average) ability and experience can figure out how to use the thing to accomplish something without it being more trouble than it’s worth.”
It sounds simple. A site should be easy to operate. Common sense. However, we’ve all had situations where we’ve tried to do something on a website or app and given up because it took too much time to figure out.
Simple is Important
If your website is too difficult to navigate or you’ve made it too hard to find needed information, a visitor may give up and head somewhere else. More importantly, you’re missing out on an opportunity to showcase your programs or services in the most desirable way.
Have you ever walked into a retail store or restaurant and been so distracted by the music that you couldn’t enjoy the experience? Well, the same can be true for your website. If something is distracting the user – whether it’s your use of colors, fonts, too much text, the layout, etc – then it diminishes their experience.
In contrast, when something is enjoyable and easy to navigate, the visitor has a better experience. They want to spend MORE time somewhere that is not mentally taxing, confusing, and distracting to them.
Just think about how much fun it is to go to IKEA!
You Have Some Expertise Here
Your website visitors want things to be clear and easy. They want to know where they are on your site, how to get somewhere else, and how to find out the information they need. Without having to read tons of text, scroll through lots of pages, and do a lot of clicking around.
The good news is that you are already a usability expert. You have interacted with many websites, and know some of the pain points and problems that you’ve encountered.
Don’t Make Them Think
What’s the most important thing you should do if you want to make sure your website is easy to use? According to Krug, it’s: “Don’t make people have to think!”
Your web pages should be obvious, crystal clear, and self-explanatory. The visitor should be able to understand your website and the purpose of each page without having to expend any mental energy.
Imagine you had a visitor to your site that was in a completely different demographic than your target market. They should be able to glance at your website and say, “Oh, it’s a ——” or “I understand, —– is how you help people”.
Eliminate Questions Marks
“When you’re building a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks.”
Every question mark that your visitor encounters takes mental effort to overcome. Even the simplest questions like “I wonder if this is clickable?” should be eliminated. Visitors should not spend their time puzzling over questions. You want to communicate information that is obvious at a glance, or with very minimal time invested.
Testing the Ease of Your Website
Krug is a strong proponent of usability testing. However, he doesn’t provide a neat checklist for evaluating your website’s usability.
Since users are all unique, there are few hard and fast rules to website design. Design strategy and elements cannot be put into the neat buckets up “good” and “bad”.
However, your website design should be “carefully thought out, well-executed, and tested.” But what can you do to improve your website’s usability?
Fortunately, you can run your own usability tests, without hiring an expensive professional. Just remember, don’t get caught up in perfection. Use this as a resource to help you take a look at your website in a different way, and maybe see something that can be improved.
First, what exactly are “usability tests?” According to Krug, usability tests are about “watching one person at a time to use something to do typical tasks so you can detect and fix the things that confuse or frustrate them.”
He recommends NOT using individuals in your target audience. So, grab your friends and family, and colleagues to help with this project.
Krug is such a fan of testing, that he’s written another book solely about that topic: Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. He even offers a free script that he uses for testing websites on his site https://sensible.com/download-files/.
Do your website visitors stumble over your website? Would you like to make your site more user-friendly? I highly recommend the book “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” (3rd Edition) by Steve Krug.
This book is geared toward the non-techie business owner and shows you how to create a website that is easy to navigate and offers the best user experience for your visitors.
It’s a fun and fast read, with great images and layout. You can finish it in a couple of evenings. It’s one of my top recommended books for anyone who owns a website.