Website Usability in a Nutshell

I find it ironic (and totally unplanned) that the blog topic I wrote on usability on at work today is featured in a similar light from the New York Times in today’s article about web site usability. They must have attended the conferences yesterday for World Usability Day. (For the record, that work blog had been a work in progress since yesterday, before I knew about World Usability Day as well.) :)

I’ll summarize my blog points on web usability guidelines:

  1. Make the goal of your website (a product sale, for example) stand out at you on the landing page.
  2. Understand the emotions of someone interested in your website and know that you are not your audience.
  3. Include persuasive content. Use power words.
  4. Design something memorable — in a good and catchy way.
  5. Don’t add unnecessary bells and whistles that detract from your offerings.

The New York Times article reiterated important guidelines that I also touch upon, such as approachability (contact information being easily found), eliminating unnecessary design elements, and even mentions a bit of SEO basics (using quotes from Matt Cutts) as well.

The article emphasizes that being on the first page of search results is a critical aspect because, according to Jakob Nielsen, author of Prioritizing Web Usability, “if your site is not listed on the first page of the search results, you might as well not exist.”

Essentially, it’s a combination of search engine optimization tactics as well as usable design that generates a sale or achieves the desired result. I’m not sure I’d buy from an ugly multimedia intensive site that comes up as #1 on my search results. I’ve seen and heard many blog readers thank RSS feeds for providing content since some blog designs are just horrendous and they just would never want to visit the blog itself.

For me personally, it’s a lot about a good meta description as well. A well-worded mission statement for a product offering in search results is golden.