5 Usability Principles of Web Design

A user friendly website is a successful combination of many elements. Business owners are constantly on the search for the best quality website design and development services, but very few understand exactly what it means to make a website “user friendly”. User Friendliness involves making a website easy-to-use and highly logical. In short, a website needs to place things exactly where visitors expect to find them. This concept has evolved into it’s own discipline over the past few years. What used to be an interesting trend has now become an essential quality for all websites to possess.

Building/Designing a website or application. Flat style vector

Website usability aims to:

  • Make things clear and easy-to understand.
  • Satisfy customers while avoiding negative experiences.

Each website, just like each business, possess unique characteristics. This means that every website’s goals will be unique, as well as how the website communicates with it’s audience. However, there are basic usability principles that every website design should follow.

1. Present your goals in a clear and easy-to-understand manner

This rule refers to each and every page in your website, not just the home page. They should be designed in such a manner that users can easily and clearly understand the goals of your website.

Make use of logical (and audience appropriate) tag-lines and calls to action. Make sure that other marketing collateral – such as logos, images, videos, text – agree with the Goal rather than introduce new concepts. In short, keep your messages and supporting details consistent.

2. Make the website easy-to-navigate

Navigation should be easy and faster so that your target users could easily find what they are looking for. When using labels and phrases you should ensure that they are easily comprehensible. Using unclear and ambiguous titles will make visitors confused and they may leave to another service provider. Use clear and to-the-point information as well as easy navigation to create nice first impression.

The worst thing a website can do is to make it confusing for the user to navigate. It may seem fun to make use of quirky titles like “How we do”, however what this may inadvertently cause is the visitor to miss the “about us” page entirely, lose trust, and move on to a competitor. Label your destinations in a manner that your visitors cannot confuse, and feed them with the information they were expecting when they clicked.

3. Provide a “Plan B” for when errors occur.

Errors are impossible to avoid. All of the planning and meticulous implementation in the world does not prevent errors that are under someone else’s control. If a visitor lands on a “page not found”, make sure that they are provided with visual directions on how to correct their navigation. Beyond this, make sure to provide an explanation as to why/how the error occurred so that your visitor is not left confused and frustrated. Make it easy for them to get back on the right path.

4. Update system status with users

This web usability principle was advised by Jacob Nielsen in 1995 and is still valid. Users should be given correct information about the current status of the website or system in plain language than can be easily understood. This will provide logical interactions and promote further engagement with the audience.

5. Develop Trust and Reliability

There is no existing tool that will establish Trust, which is arguable the most important and the most difficult factor to establish. A poor website design is a sure way to lose trust, while a good website design will be effective in assisting with trust building. Take this further by presenting ‘trust factors’ such as awards, certifications, case studies, testimonials, or anything else that may prove to the audience that your content can be trusted.

Before you begin your next website development, as yourself these helpful questions:

  • WHY will people want to come to my website?
  • WHAT information are they expecting to see?
  • HOW will my website help develop a relationship with my audience?

If you answer these questions correctly, you now know the goal of your website. Build each page with achieving these goals in mind, and always put your audience first.


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