Web, Mobile and Multimedia Usability Self-Test

Unfortunately often usability is the last item checked off on a project. It actually should be one of the second or third things completed during the prototype stage before development. If not your project costs can go up significantly or worse your project will not have great results even if all your code is correct. Here are some quick usability tests to check your web, mobile or multimedia creation.

  • Just like when you where in school… have your parents or grandparents test your creation. If they can’t figure it out then it is not usable. Note that having your child do it does not count. They often have a higher technical understanding of how something works.
  • Make sure the technical abilities needed to use the site match your user audience. For example the abilities of online gamers compared to people getting their online drivers license are very different. Both vocabulary, technical skill and navigation should be at least 60% under the user’s ability.
  • Assume nothing
  • If you are creating a new navigation system make sure it is taught once and repeats throughout the system. Don’t create a home page with one navigation then internal pages with different navigation.
  • For web sites, all important actions should be above the fold of a standard laptop. (the part of the page you see before scrolling)
  • Lead the user to an assumed conclusion and action.
  • Screens should be self describing even without words when possible.
  • Show the user where they are in the process at all times
  • Never have the user have to search or hunt for something
  • Have multiple ways to reach important functions
  • Redirect errors so the user can figure out what they did wrong
  • Have the colors, fonts, images align with the brand, ad or previous page, product or service?
  • Test, test, test on all user’s browsers and devices.

Simply said on any page these questions should be answered within seconds of landing on the screen:

  • Where am I?
  • What do I have to do?
  • Where do I click to complete the action?
  • Where can I get help?

Landing Page Optimization Guidelines

Often clients ask how should they optimize their landing page(s). The landing page is where a prospects ends up after clicking on an ad. So you must first start with the ad and follow the users experience from the beginning to the Submit or Buy button. Most prospects will look at your landing page for about 7 seconds. So the page must build trust and be appealing enough for them to continue. Below are  items to review with your present campaign.

Consistent Message
The user starts with the ad, once clicked they come to the landing page. The message, color, images, should be the same on the ad as on the landing page. So if you have blue banner with a picture on it the landing page should have the same image and blue color on the page. This reinforces trust to the user and they know they are at the right place that they expected. The offer should be the same, do not bait and switch.

Build user understanding quickly
There are four main pieces of information a user is looking for.

  • Where am I –  meet the expectation set up by the ad.
  • What do you offer – clearly state what you offer in one sentence
  • Why do I care – tell the user what the advantage is of your offer don’t assume they know. Also use You and Your instead of I and We. Using You connects the user faster to their imagination of them using your product or service.
  • What do you want from me – You have to ask for the sale. Get, Buy, Sign up, Start today. Only ask for information you really need. You can get additional information later. People are skeptical about providing any unnecessary information. Be up front about any costs or fees.

Simple Layout
Studies show that when people read online they jump around. They often read the first and last sentence of a paragraph, not the middle; they often glance over to an item on the left or right.

  • Keep the text simple with plenty of white space so the user is focused on what is on the page and not distracted.
  • Use two columns one with the main body of text the other can be a thin call to action form, testimonials etc.
  • Use font color and size, and graphics to capture the user’s attention but not distract them.
  • Reinforce our call to action in multiple places on the page
  • Have a call to action in the upper right above the fold (what you see before scrolling) as well as your main pitch.
  • Build trust with Return and Privacy links on the bottom of the page
  • Be careful not to have too many links off the page. Many landing page have no navigation and pigeon hole the users into one path others wait until the user has clicked the first button to a series of forms once they are filling out forms there are no other links off that path.

Test and Test again
With each offer you would have a separate landing page this keeps a consistent message. However you will also need to test different ads and different landing page. Some pages would have different layouts others may only have one call to action word changed in the heading. Remember this is an experiment so only change one thing so you can figure out what change worked and what change did not. Track your clicks, acquisitions, time a person spent on a page etc.

Feel free to contact me if you want a free landing page consult. Go to www.OptimalLeadGen.com

9 Rules for Website Usability

Here are nine factors of website usability you will want to keep in mind when you design a website.
Brand Identity / Digital Branding
Bridging the gap between the traditional marketing and online marketing campaigns is critical for clean branding. All images and slogans should be the same as often as possible. Confusing the user by not presenting the same look and feel as the TV, Radio, and traditional advertisements will hurt the brand. It is takes a long time to build a brand but a very short time to destroy it. Inconsistent branding causes the users to assume the company does not know what the left hand is doing compared to the right.

Similar tasks should be performed similarly. Reduce the need for users to learn multiple behaviors and navigation paths. Terms and graphics should be consistent throughout the site. Processes should also be consistent throughout the site when appropriate. Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.

A web site is a living document. It is always changing. Because of this, consistent feedback must be asked and acted upon. The site should provide users with timely information on processes and errors. This information should be communicated in clear, simple language. If users must or can take action, these actions must be clearly communicated to the user. For example, if a user is filling out a complicated form and missed a field to fill in. Don’t force the user to figure out which field they missed or if they entered a number with dashes or not.

Content Appropriateness
The language and structure of the site should be designed to fit the language and mental conceptions of the end users and the limitations of the medium. Words, phrases and concepts should be familiar to the end user. For example, a financial site for the average person should not use terminology that is for financial experts and vica versa.

Error Avoidance
A well designed site uses language and code to prevent a mistake before it happens. This is done by educating the user as they go through a process and observing where users get confused and re-correcting that section of the process. A site should be structured to help users avoid making mistakes. Potential errors should be anticipated, as often as possible, and the site should be designed to reduce the possibility of potential errors.

The navigation of a site is like the steering wheel to a car. One of the top issues with navigation is the learn-ability of the navigation bar. Some sites have different navigation bars as you go through the site. This slows the user because they have to relearn the navigation system. Another common problem is the labels used on the navigation bar. Using words that are common on the web and target industry is crucial. A clean navigation system allows the user to get from one part of the site to another with as few as three clicks. Navigation should also be bi-directional, in other words, the user should know where they are at any time and how to get back to where they were.

The performance of a site can be effected by the site design as well as the users access and software used to view the net. For example, if the site has large images or slow code the user may not be able to download the page efficiently if they are on a dial-up connection. However, this may not be an issue if you are targeting customers with fast connections to the internet. Another issue is software compatibility. Are your users using MAC’s, PC’s, Netscape, Internet Explorer or AOL? If so, what versions? Often the site is designed on one browser and never checked on other browsers and browser versions.

We have all heard of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). On the web, it is critical since a web user will look elsewhere within seconds if they are confused about your shopping cart or an unorthodox navigation system. Simplicity of images and design can aid the user in capturing the emotional feel of the corporate image and subconsciously point them to the leading product or service sold. Tasks that are repeated over and over again should be simplified for the users comfort.

How often have you been to a site and found your self-looking at the screen trying to find the button or link of your interest? Visibility is creating the primary links, actions, and functions so they are obvious to the viewer, but not obnoxious. Another key aspect is knowing your user and what they are looking for. Effective titles and navigational aids should be provided to keep users informed of where they are and where they have come from.