Navigating your website
Usability refers to how easy it is to navigate through your website. This is determined by aspects including the way your site arranges and displays information, as well as how comfortable it is for users to interact with it. Usability affects search engine rankings, determining the number and quality of visits, as well as its conversion rate.
The main criteria of web usability
- Portability – how well does your website function on different browsers and devices? Your site should be portable, meaning that it works on computers, tablets and smartphones
- Total website loading time – how quickly does your website load? It should take a maximum of 2 to 3 seconds
- Visibility of the site’s main sections – how easy is it to find information? Different sections should be easy to locate and the site should contain easily identifiable menus with clear sections
- Visibility of access to the homepage – how easy is it to return to the homepage? We recommend linking to your homepage on one of the main menu sections, or creating a link to the homepage on the header
- Link visibility – is it possible to understand and follow links? They should be easily identifiable and should stand out from general text – the easiest way to do this is by underlining the words that correspond to the link
- Positioning of contact information – can a user contact you if they wanted to? Make sure all contact details are clear and visible
- Sitemap – is the architecture of your site clearly displayed? The sitemap includes the website hierarchy and helps to classify information and improve search engine rankings.
- Breadcrumbs – do users know which part of the site they’re visiting? The breadcrumb shows users the section and subsection of the website that they’re looking at so they can orient themselves – the breadcrumb is a chain to help users move back to previous pages or the homepage. It also helps to improve the website’s positioning in search results
- Number of clicks from the homepage – how many times must a user click to visit the ‘deepest’ part of the site? To maintain usability, we recommend no more than 3 clicks.
- Browser operability – how well does the website work on different browsers? Make sure it functions properly on Internet Explorer, Google, Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, etc.
How to measure the usability of your website
There are many tools to help you correct any web usability errors on your site – including loading time, use of images and programming errors. These tools include
- browser compatibility tests – to help you to discover whether or not your website is compatible with most web browsers, including older versions
- device labs – to test how your site looks on a variety of mobile devices and to see whether it is compatible with smartphones and tablets
- speed and performance tests – to detect elements that slow down your website, to measure your website’s loading time and to provide specific data on the elements that influence it
- usability checklists – to measure the structure and navigability of your website via tests that will tell you if you have correctly constructed a hierarchy of sections and subsections
- XML sitemaps – to construct a sitemap file for your website quickly and easily
Further reading on the usability of your website