Make your site easy to use — and useful.
We’re squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company’s ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.
How do you make your site easy to use? Clear, concise and consistent navigational elements.
It is important to let your visitors know where they are on your site and how to quickly navigate to where they want to be, or where they need to go to get what they want. There are a few very easy things you can do to accomplish this:
1) Use breadcrumbs. While most people do not use breadcrumbs as a navigational element, the simple presence of these allows the visitor to know exactly what page they are on and how deep into the site. They also provide a one click option to get to each backward level of your site.
2) Use contextual links. Don’t rely on your main right, left or top navigation to get your visitors from point A to point B. While these are an important part of your site, using links within the text body of your website helps drive visitors to areas of the site which interest them, or to take the course of action you desire.
3) Use calls to action. Whether it be contextual links or obvious image that say “click here to…”, calls to action let your visitors know where they need to go to get the information they need.
4) Keep your main navigation consistent. Sites who’s navigation changes location from page to page simply confuses the visitor. Make it easy for them as they flow from one page to the next.
The other issue here is to make your site useful. This is relatively easy to accomplish, especially for those who know their stuff. If you’re trying to sell a product, don’t just offer that product, but provide information that will help the visitor see why they should purchase this product, and why purchase it from you.
Providing extra information including features and benefits of your product will help users make the decision to buy. Adding information such as pricing comparisons, warranties, and quality customer service helps users realize why they should purchase from you.
A useful site is a site buyers will return to time and time again. Maybe you attract them with the information as they do their research. Maybe they don’t buy from you today, but if your site is one that provides them information that helps them make their decision, you’ll be the first site on their mind when they are ready to purchase.