A trip to the grocery store recently should have been a quick and stress free experience. However it was not! The anguish I felt when leaving the store inspired this post. I’m sure you’re wondering how the local grocery store could trigger a post about website usability – so here goes…
I ran into our local store on the way home to pick up a few quick items. If you must know – I needed fruit and bagels! As I walked down the aisles I noticed avocados on sale (7 for $1 to be exact!). Being a guacamole fan, I immediately stopped and decided to grab some.
As a self proclaimed guacamole expert, I’ve learned from my fellow shoppers how to select the perfect avocado. One that is not too hard but not too soft. One that can be used today and not sit around tormenting me as I wait for it to ripen. I began burrowing through the huge mound in search for just seven perfect specimens.
Should have been easy right? But no – I spent ten minutes of my precious time moving over-ripe and rock hard fruit. Eventually I unveiled the hidden stash of perfect avocados hiding 6 fruit under!!
So what does this have to do with web design I hear you say? Plenty actually. The store’s advertising had done it’s job correctly and made me need to buy avocados! But here’s where they went wrong. They’d hidden the most desirable fruit and I’d been made to work and to find what I needed.
Here’s where your website comes into all this! You’ve done a great job getting visitors to your site (just like the store did in making me need those avocados). But more often than not, once at your site, your customers are made to search for the information or services they need.
There’s a reason most navigation bars are placed across the top or on the left margin – because this is where people expect to find them. Logo’s and business names are usually placed at the top left as this is where we look for them.
The store wanted me to buy avocados. If you want your customers to sign up for your newsletter or special offer, don’t hide the sign up form! Make it stand out and place it in several places. I like to add a sign-up box on my homepage, under each blog post and on my about page.
Same goes for your contact details. Don’t have this info secluded on your contact us page. Add it to the bottom of your blog posts, on your home page and on your about page.
In fact, so many business owners make these mistakes there’s actually a great book about this very subject. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug addresses this subject and offers some great suggestions and advice for increasing the usability of your website.
So your task for today is to take a good look at your website. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and discover how usable (or not) your site is. Check your stats, test your new page, and you’ll reveal how a few small tweaks to your design can go a long way.