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Usability Blog Post Archives

Usability Category

Improve Your Website By Getting Beyond Who’s Right and Wrong

In my efforts to help businesses improve the conversion rates on their websites, I hear objections ALL the time. Behind the objections, I have observed fear (about how the changes will perform), offense (because they think I’m implying their work isn’t up to snuff) and procrastination (because they want to avoid the scary world of testing).

A few factors that I’ve seen contribute to this include:

  • Stakeholder’s opinions about what will work best for a particular site or page within a site are usually strongly held, whether it’s because it’s what they like themselves or what they believe as a professional.
  • Stakeholders are emotionally attached to their work.
  • There’s a lot at stake for everyone when it comes to the performance of the website.

The resulting situation can get messy. It typically involves arguments over opinions about what to do with the site in an attempt at improvement. But this kind of activity can be damaging to your team’s relationships.

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Less Is More When Writing for Landing Pages

Yes, I know why you include so many words on your marketing landing pages. It’s because you really, really, REALLY want your visitors to get it. You want them to understand all that it is you have to offer them and how choosing to do business with you is really going to change their lives. You want to use all of the information you can to persuade them to stick with you, to continue on the journey to being your customer. Problem is—they don’t read them. I know you worked hard on it, and I’m sorry.

So, what do you do now? Throw it all away? Doesn’t there need to be some explanation about the page and how the user will benefit from continuing on? Why, certainly yes. Your pages must still persuade users to work through the conversion process. But, they must do so in ways that fit with how people use the web. It’s time to get out that “red pen” and make a couple of changes; namely employing a less-is-more approach.

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Website Usability Tips for How People Use the Web

Last time I shared here, I established that a major problem affecting your site performance is that (because you designed or contributed to or commissioned and approved the site) YOU don’t have to think when YOU use the site because YOU know what everything means, how everything is supposed to work, where everything is located and where every click is supposed to go. Your visitors are left to interpret things that you already know the interpretation for.

A second major problem affecting your site performance is that you designed it for people who use the web in a similar fashion to how a straight-A student would study for a final exam; mulling over every last detail of information presented for fear that a question will be on the test regarding information skipped over. I don’t have exact numbers, but the amount of people that use the web in this way is—close to none.

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How to Make Your Website Easier to Use (and Improve Conversion Rates)

Web usability expert Steve Krug starts off his popular book on the topic with these words:

People often ask me: “What’s the most important thing I should do if I want to make sure my Web site is easy to use?” The answer is simple. It’s not “Nothing important should ever be more than two clicks away,” or “Speak the user’s language,” or even “Be consistent.” It’s “Don’t make me think!”

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The First Step to Better Homepage Design

your homepage is like beachfront real estate

Your homepage is like beachfront real estate. Everyone wants a piece of it! [tweet]

It’s common knowledge that in general the homepage of any site is the most important page. Usability professionals have called it the “beachfront real estate” of any website. The big obstacle we run into with this though is that, of course, everyone wants a piece of it! Because this is the case, your homepage design just might be overrun with content competing for user’s attention. If you can find it in yourself to admit it, this is probably limiting its ability to allow your customers to service themselves with it—which is costing you money. After all, the homepage is many times a customer’s first impression of your site and the company behind your site.

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Why An Authoritative Website is So Important to Your Business

In the offline world, you wouldn’t invest tons of money in a sloppy-looking, incorrect-grammar-ing, confusing, and unknowledgeable salesman that wasn’t able to serve your customers needs in the ways they wanted to be served, would you?  So, why would you do it online?  Would you like to buy something from this guy?

The truth is, your website is your digital sales rep.  It’s the go-to “person” in the online world for customers looking for your solutions.  In light of all the activities you may do online, this is your digital home.  It is THE preeminent piece of your digital existence.  Kinda makes you think a little more about what you do with it, right?!?

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Eight Ways to Improve Your Online Checkout

Shopping cart abandonment is the bane of e-commerce sites. Fairly recent studies by Forrester and MarketingSherpa indicate shopping cart abandonment rates are higher than 50%. That can certainly add up to a great deal of lost revenue for you.

In my latest post on Search Engine Land, How To Make Your Online Checkout More User Friendly, I share eight critical things you can do to improve the shopping-cart experience on your site and, hopefully, encourage more of your site visitors to become loyal buyers. If you decide to try them, let me know how they work for you!

Improve Your Website Navigation for Visitors and Site Performance

I’m not into hunting. That goes for the real world, as well as the online one. (My guns and crossbow are strictly for target practice and the impending zombie apocalypse). When I use a search engine, I want to find what I’m looking for the first time. When I go to a website, I expect the navigation to immediately point me in the right direction.

However, I often land on websites with navigation that’s less than intuitive at best and downright confusing at worst. If I can’t locate the information I’m seeking in a relatively short period of time, I leave. I am not going to hunt.

Why would anyone want to send their visitors away in frustration when it’s so simple to create clear, consistent navigation? To learn how to improve this critical piece on your site, check out my latest post on Search Engine Land, Six Easy Ways to Improve Your Site’s Navigation.

Build Trails for Customers that Don’t Dead End

You see it all the time: web marketing that fails to satisfy customer wants and needs in the buying process from first exposure to conversion.  The problem is that it’s so easy to simply leave a buying trail that you’re on with the web.  All it takes is a click.  This puts buyers in total control and makes them uber-sensitive to what they engage with online.  The challenge for us as site owners and marketers is to build trails from exposure to conversion that customers won’t want to leave.

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Will Your Website Story Have a Happy Ending?

I love a good story – almost as much as our staff word nerd does. And even though I’m not a particularly sentimental guy, I also love a happy ending, especially when it comes to my clients and their websites.

Every time people visit your site, a new story begins. Hopefully, all will be bliss and harmony as they follow the conversion path you’ve carefully laid out, which could be anything from a newsletter sign-up to a purchase worth thousands. However, if a visitor experiences a lots of conflict on your site, he or she may not even turn the first page. Fast forward to a bad ending: site abandonment.

But there is hope. I encourage you to read my latest column on Search Engine Land: 12 Navigation Ideas To Give Your Website ‘Story’ A Happy Ending. In it, you’ll find (a shocker!) 12 helpful ideas for reducing navigational conflict on your site. After you read it, implement the ideas. Then, you and your visitors can live happily ever after. THE END!

a happy ever after ending for your website with less navigational conflict

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