What Good Website Usability Looks Like: Think “Glance” and “Scan”
Well-known website usability expert Steve Krug (Don’t Make Me Think) advises to “make everything obvious and self-explanatory”. What’s his definition of “self-explanatory”: ANYONE on any page can tell what it is and how to use it, just by looking at it.
Visitors Won’t Stick Around to “Learn How a Website Works”
His thousands of usability studies (conducted by sitting with individual web surfers, watching their actions, and asking them to “think out loud”) have led him to conclude:
1.Visitors want to be able to figure out your web site at a GLANCE.
2.They want to be able to SCAN to find what they’re looking for. (If you’re using pull-down menus as part of your web navigation, they’re not visible to the scanning visitor. So your Main Menu topics need to be clear to visitors “at a glance” what they’ll find in that section.)
Website Usability Principles
Krug’s key principles of website usability include:
- “Persistent navigation”: same place, every page
- Design for scan-ability (other researchers like Jakob Nielsen have also found that 85% – 90% of visitors scan a web page first)
- Create a clear visual hierarchy — to tell visitors what’s most important
- Make your links obvious so visitors can’t miss them (studies have found that blue works best for links)
- “Above the fold” copy should be the most important copy on the page. (Be sure not to bury key messages — only a small portion of visitors ever scroll down to the end of each page.)
Design Comes Before Copy in Creating Websites
Krug points out that web pages should be “design-driven”. You should figure out where you want the major items in terms of layout, and then write copy to fit the layout.