One of the main goals of any website project is to produce a website that is easy to use. Usability is sometimes reduced down to “easy to use,” but it really is so much more. I could write a whole article about the definition of usability, but today I’d like to jump straight to a few tips that can be applied to your existing site, gleaned both from my professional experiences and Steve Krug’s awesome book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Website Usability.
Pause for a moment to take a deep inhale and exhale. That’s all the time you get from a website visitor. In order to earn a second breath, your website needs to communicate your message clearly to the user and provide them with the appropriate next steps.
This rule doesn’t just apply to first impressions of your homepage; consider the five-second rule as it pertains to accomplishing basic tasks on your site, like finding out when fall semester applications are due. Users typically just dive in, muddling through your site, quickly scrolling and clicking to get what they want. They don’t take the time to analyze your entire page and pick the best choice. Realistically, they look feverishly around for anything that is interesting or vaguely resembles what they are looking for, and then they click! If they mistakenly click the wrong link, the back button is a painless exit to try again.