Jan 2013

5 Most Common Usability Errors Web Designers Must Avoid

Posted By - Vivian

Usability is what makes or breaks a website. No matter how good the services or products offered, a website that doesn’t offer a good user experience is doomed to fail. As a designer, it is your duty to design a website that the least tech-savvy user can navigate and use with ease. One way of getting things right is by avoiding getting them wrong.

When you are designing a website, you need to keep too many things in mind: the images have to be right, the typography must match the content, the web forms should be easy to fill, most relevant information should be highlighted, the users should be able to navigate intuitively, and a lot more besides.

No matter how hard you try, some slight error may creep in and spoil the user experience. While perfection comes only with practice and experience, you can keep in mind the most common usability errors and avoid making any big bloopers. Here are the five most widespread usability errors that web designers must avoid at all costs.

No search facility

You may design the simplest navigation structure, but it will still take visitors a few seconds to use it and find exactly what they want. A search box is the first thing that many visitors try to locate when they land on a site. All they want to do is enter a search term, find relevant information, and access it.

For users who are focused on a task, the absence of a search button is frustrating and annoying. Whether you are designing for an ecommerce store or a blog, you need to place a simple and clearly visible search button.

No call-to-action buttons

It is astounding how many designers miss out the most crucial element of a web page. Every page should have a clear call-to-action or a contact us section of some sort. The point is to encourage interaction with users and increase user engagement with the website.

Call-to-action buttons serve an important purpose: they enable the users to accomplish a certain task with minimal effort. Well-designed contact sections inspire the users to communicate with the brand and build a relationship.

Filling the page with tiny bits of clickable areas

I bet you have seen comments sections in blogs, portals, forums and online stores with tiny hyperlinks that users can click. If you are designing a site with multiple links crowded together on a page, try and find a way to increase the size of the links.

Most people do not have a high level of mouse accuracy, and it will be difficult for them to click on the link. If it is not possible for you to increase the size of the links, you can use padded links to increase the targeted area for the links.

Forcing registration for minor activities

There is nothing more irritating than to be asked to register with a site for simply commenting on an article or writing a product review. Sometimes, designers are forced to devise ways in which users may be encouraged to register on the websites (after all, the more registered users there are, the better it is for the website).

If such is the case, you can’t do much. But if you really want to provide a seamless user experience, you have to allow the visitors to perform a wide range of activities without being forced to login or register. And if you are forcing them to register, at least make the registration process short and speedy.

Creating long, rambling registration forms

Everyone hates filling forms. You need to make web forms as short and simple as possible. One of the most deflating sights on websites is a long, rambling form that asks users to fill in all sorts of information. While gathering information about the users may be necessary, it doesn’t pay to create log-winded forms that cause the users to leave the website.

Try and keep the forms as short as possible and use inline validation to ensure that people do not have to come back to the form to fill out missed fields. Also, if some fields are optional, consider removing them altogether and shortening the form.

To wrap it up

Designing a perfect website may not be easy, but building a website that makes life a little easier for the users is not too difficult. All you need to do is avoid design elements that force the users to take extra steps to accomplish certain tasks and include helpful elements to make their tasks easier. Just step into the shoes of the users and you will not need to worry about usability errors.

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