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Three Overlooked Tweaks To Optimise Website Usability

10 November 2020

Sharp coloured pencils

User Interfaces

Following studies by Adobe two thirds of people would rather read something that is visually appealing than plain, if they only had 15 minutes to consume the content. In the case of websites, users also want the website to load quickly, in less than 5 seconds. Therefore, user interfaces (UI) have to walk the fine line of balancing speed and satisfaction.

In short, designers should be aiming to reduce roadblocks faced by users at the same time as being attractive. Here are three, often overlooked, tips.

Fewer Choices

Psychology studies have shown that consumers confronted with more choices tend to result in fewer sales. At the extreme, analysis paralysis can occur. This is where the user is unable to make a decision because they are confused by too many choices.

For website UI design this means keeping choices, on where users go next, simple. Sometimes services/products and options can be complex but it’s worth the effort in helping the user make decisions as easily and as quickly as possible.

For example, if your products are complicated then you could have a “find a product” tool. Users answer simple questions to narrow the list down so they only have to consider a handful of options.

Simple Navigation

For websites with multiple categories and sub categories navigation should be a top priority, especially for mobile versions.

A fair rule of thumb is to have the number of menu items at a maximum of seven and apply the same to sub menus. This has the added benefit of the user being aware of where they are in the website. Users can easily forget especially when they have multiple websites open.

Display Current Location

According to studies, progress trackers are known to increase engagement and satisfaction. As mentioned above, users often have multiple websites open so it’s easy to forget what they were trying to achieve.

To help users see where they left off a visual indicator is really helpful. One simple solution is often overlooked on modern and fancy website. It is the humble “Breadcrumb” trail. The name is taken from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale where a brother and sister use a train of breadcrumbs so they don’t get lost in the woods.

Breadcrumbs are used to illustrate a user’s path on a website in relation to the home page. They can click on any part of it to take them back to a specific page should they reach a cul-de-sac, for example. If the user has been away from the screen for some time it helps them carry on from where they left off.

Conclusion

By helping users focus on what’s important, guiding them gently and showing them where they are up to will significantly boost website usability. Start with the goal of “keeping it simple” and you won’t go far wrong.