principles of usability
Web Development

10 Principles of Website Usability Explained

In the digital age, it is crucial for a company to have a strong internet presence. Customer retention and the way a customer engages with a website is becoming as important as the design itself. The ease and flow of your website is measured through a method called usability.

Dr. Jakob Nielsen, from the Nielsen Norman Group, is the inventor of multiple usability methods including the 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design. These heuristics are used in research and companies across the world. Here we’ve explained the 10 heuristics for your company’s needs.

1) “Visibility of system status” – Give Your Customers Something Visual

System status comes from when we notice how long it takes for a web page to load. A loading page that is design-centered will keep your potential customer engaged with your website.

2) “Match between system and the real world” – Be Relatable

The language of your website should be in a tone that engages with your customers in the most appropriate way. Phrases and concepts that your customers are familiar with will be far more digestible than market specific jargon that isn’t easily explained.

3) “User control and freedom” – Clearly Marked Exit Sign

If your company’s website is on the more complex side, it is important to give your customers an easily accessible “exit” sign. An easily navigable home button is a necessity.

4) “Consistency and standards” – Be Consistent

Your potential customers expect consistency of language, and more importantly: consistency of information. It is confusing when a website lists incorrect and outdated information, especially when that information is needed to reach a company via telephone or email. Be consistent and constantly update!

5) “Error prevention” – Give Tag Related Suggestions

On content heavy websites, it is common for a link to a blog or page to be taken down to be updated and edited. When content is removed it is important to fill that error message with easy-to-navigate links to other blogs a potential customer might find relatable.

6) “Recognition rather than recall” – Information Display

To ensure a potential customer never has to navigate from their desired page to your home page just to receive contact information, display the company’s contact information in the footer of the web page.

7) “Flexibility and efficiency of use” – Easy-to-Use From Start to Finish

Customers come to your website with different  levels of computer competency. It is important to cater to the first-time user, but also address a customer that has been on your website multiple times and may be seeking a tailored experience. Try a link on the homepage that takes a repeat customer to their desired page.

8) “Aesthetic and minimalist design” – Simple is Always Better

Having a cluttered website that is full of information is not visually pleasing to your customers. Keep it short, responsive, and design oriented. Check out some examples here:

9) “Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors” – Useful Error Messages

An overly technical error message can be confusing to a user. Replacing an error message with a friendly “stop” sign is less disruptive.

10) “Help and documentation” – Must Have: Search Box

Adding a search box to your company’s website is essential to the seamless navigation of repeat customers who are in search of specific information.

These principles will help you keep your online customers happy and optimize their interaction on your website. Think something is missing on your site? It could be time for a redesign. Check out our 5-Step Redesign Checklist, which considers all of these principles.

This blog post was written by Ingenex Summer intern Bryce Beckwith.


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