Website Usability - Tips and Tricks“Our website doesn’t work” is a common claim from businesses. The site may be attracting visitors, but the conversion rate is low or the bounce rate is high. Too few businesses analyse the real problems and will often plump for a re-design rather than getting to the bottom of the actual issues.

Common problems are a failure to call the visitor to complete a particular action; the ‘eye candy’ drowns out the real messages and content; landing pages without a purpose; badly written or presented content; non-functional aspects of your site e.g. shopping basket, search, or non-standard HTML which doesn’t render correctly in your visitor’s browser or on their mobile phone.

Before your website design company advises starting again, think about changing and testing various aspects of your site. WhichTestWon website testing gives very good examples of how even minor changes can make a considerable difference to a website conversion rate.

Delve deeply into your web stats first. Many businesses pay only the most cursory attention to their site stats, and yet this is where you will find the clues and evidence as to why your website is failing you. Look carefully at the pages with high bounce rates – these bounce rates clearly indicate a problem, or two. Set up goals in your stats so you can see if people are dropping out part way through a process eg in the shopping cart. Check the conversion rates from your landing pages and consider what changes you could try to improve them.

Here are some other tips to help improve your current site:

  • Think about putting an offer ‘above the fold’ where it will catch the eye of every visitor.
  • Clean up your pages so a) they are easy to read and b) they work on as many devices, including mobile, as possible.
  • Try different page layouts, colours, and change how you word your calls to action.

Test and tweak, and monitor the results so you can discover what works and what doesn’t. Good web usability doesn’t come quickly. Don’t redesign in a hurry, particularly as this is likely to be an expensive solution to a problem which may be easily solved.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology