Wednesday, April 02, 2008

14 Website Usability Guidelines That Keep them Coming Back for More

Quick UI design tips ...

"Sites that are designed to sell products and/or services must go the extra mile to enhance the visitor's engagement with the website. Shopping cart abandonment (shoppers abandoning their carts before deciding to pay for the "items" they've added to their cart) can result in a significant loss in potential sales. But much of that can be reduced when the shopping process is streamlined and geared for shopper satisfaction.

The selling process--from initial interest to the very last checkout page--must be able to grab shopper's attention and proceed to drive them through to the finalization of the sale. But even after the sell, you must deal with customer service issues in order to keep the sale finalized. Good customer service will bring your purchasers back for another and another and another. Here are fourteen general usability guidelines that will enhance your shoppers overall experience on your site.

Images vs. content

Images and content must work together to provide the user with a satisfactory experience. Relying too heavily on images and other media can be distracting, especially to those that really need to read more about what you're selling before they are comfortable making a purchase. On the other hand, too much content on the wrong pages can also turn some shoppers away. A proper balance must be struck.

Content organization

Content must be purposeful and have a beginning, middle and end. Each page should expose need, show the importance, provide the benefits and, provide a call to action. Don't forget to speak to each reader's emotions.

Text formatting

Site content should be readable and understandable without the use of stylesheets. Don't rely on visual gimmicks to get your point across as many often won't render properly in plain text browsers.

User level

Content must speak at the reading level of your target audience. Don't neglect to write to both expert and novice users as applicable. Not everyone coming to your site is fully knowledgeable in your topic. Meet their needs verbally, without talking down to the more advanced users.

Cross-browser rendering

Different browsers will display a site in slightly different ways. Know your audience and what browsers they are using. Then make sure that your site looks clean, clear and professional across multiple browsers.

Plugins

Site should avoid using plugins that are required in order to experience the website. Most visitors won't install these plugins and will therefore move on to other sites. While these features can be nice additions, be sure to provide a site that appeals to the lowest common denominator of your web users.

Page formatting

Keeping your site consistent from page to page makes the conversion process easier on your visitors. Don't surprise them with a different format on other pages that forces them to rethink about how to go about continuing with the shopping or checking out process.

Eliminate distractions

Keep your site free from pop-ups and other distractions that pull visitors away from the sales process. Reduce clutter such as ads or too many up-sells. Sometimes it's good to eliminate many navigation options, provided it enhances the customer's experience rather than confuses them."    (Continued via Search Engine Guide Blog)    [Usability Resources]

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