What is usability in web design? Web usability guidelines

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What is usability in web design / web usability guidelines.
To design and develop a truly successful website you need to pay attention to usability in an early stage! You only have a few seconds to capture your visitors interest before they move on, this is how you get them to stay on your site:


Web usability basically means a good and user friendly experience for your website visitors!
What is usability in web design and web usability guidelines tutorial


What is usability in web design?

Usability is a term which includes interaction design, communication design and graphic design.
You can test your website’s usability through analyses, user testing or monitoring user activity. Usability in web design basically means:

  • The obvious: The load time of a webpage is very short/none existing and everything works as expected.
  • The information is avalable, accessible and easily foreseeable with no distractions
  • The user quickly understands what the sites is about and how to use it
  • The user can find what they are looking for without a fuzz
  • The flow is very clear and intuitive, the user doesn’t really have to think much
  • The website is tailored to fit the target audience
  • The design enhances the company brand and what ever services provided
  • The design enhances the user experience in terms of emotions
  • The website is responsive and looks good in any device, full screen och mobile phone


Web usability guidelines

No matter what content your website provides, the functionality, the content and the design should all bring your message forward loud and clear! Keep it simple, avalable and accessible to the visitors. Here are some web usability guidelines to get you started:

  • The obvious: Make sure everything works as expected, no broken links or unexpected errors. Very short or no load time.
  • Use harmonizing sophisticated colors to make text easy to read against the background.
  • Avoid buzy background patterns or too much loud colors, especially when working with content holding a lot of images, for example a gallery or a portfolio. The content should always have full focus, not the background.
  • Let the user control the website and not the opposite. Avoid automated popups and other unexpected happenings.
  • Less is more. Keep the content simple, as short as possible and to the point. Always avoid large blocks of text (unless you are publishing a whole book)
  • Short but descriptive headings.
  • Use images/graphics  to clarify and enhance your content or structure (sometimes even to replace to much text).
  • Don’t ever add an element that is unnecessary or not contributing in a meaningfull way.
  • To much effects or moving content is a no-no and will only draw attention from your important content! Use javascript / jQuery with moderation to avoid distractions.
  • Let the design enhance, clarify and lift the content of the website.
  • Let the design bring a feel and a vibe, speaking to the visitors emotions to create a greater user experience.
  • Keep the design light and airy with a lot of space between content.
  • Consider including a tagline or a statement clearly explaining what the site is about. Keep it short and place it loud and clear high on the index page or in the header.
  • If you have a large website, include a search field
  • Don’t forget feedback! When an email is sent or an application is submitted, tell the user everything went OK or why there was an error!
  • Use CSS width and build content blocks in % – percent rather than in pixels. This way your design will become liquid and adapt better to different devices and screen widths.
  • Be consistent with structure, graphics and colors not to confuse visitors.
  • Use components, structures and patterns that are already familiar to most users.
  • Keep user workflows and operations very simple with as few steps as possible, for example in booking systems or web shops. Make it easy for the user to abort the task at any point or change the parameters.
  • Use a maximum of 7-9 links in the main navigation, less is better. If needed create nested submenus or a secondary menu.


More articles on web usability:

Information Design – How to plan, structure & categorize large amounts of contents for the web
Interaction Design – Improve the visitor interaction & workflows to create great user experience
Graphic design / Web design – Enhance the brand, clarify content & give the visitor feelings of wanting or belonging etc.
Communication Design – How to communicate your brand for example in social media channels


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