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Improving Your Website's Usability

Does it flow? Is it up to date? Can it be easily navigated?

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By Marty McGhie

Make it speedy
How many times have you found yourself on a slow website, waiting for what seems to be an eternity for the pages to load? If you are like the majority of Web users, your patience quickly runs out. And unless you absolutely have to gather information or place an order on that particular website, you will typically give up and head off to another website where you can accomplish the same purpose. Nothing will render your website more ineffective than slow speeds throughout the navigation process.

A number of factors can contribute to slow speeds. It may be that your HTML codes are bad, your graphics may be too large, or you may be using too many graphics. Perhaps you have too much information on the same page. If you use a lot of Flash programming or Java applets, these can also slow down your website.

Finally, don’t use an inexpensive or free hosting service for your site. For the same reasons that you may be tempted to use a service of this type, thousands of others will be also, making the bandwidth issue too cumbersome. While the financial savings may seem attractive, the trade-off is the loss of a significant customer base that will not have the patience to endure slow loading processes and repeated time-outs. Invest in the necessary resources to help your customers zip along when navigating through your site.

Easy navigation is key
The ability of visitors on your website to easily navigate to where they wish to go is critical to its success. Often, the temptation when building a site or developing a new area or page of your website will be to include too much information, making it burdensome to navigate. One Internet survey indicates that only 16% of Web users typically read Web pages word for word. Instead, most just skim through the website page by page looking for highlighted information that will provide the information they are looking for.