Tips From the Usability Meetup in Raleigh, North Carolina

Posted by Mark Thompson - December 1, 2009 - Design/Development - 4 Comments

There was a great meetup I attended a few weeks ago to discuss web usabilityAshley Berman Hale and Phil Buckley were the organizers who presented some helpful usability tips.

Here are the notes of the Meetup:

Usability: On the Web & On Your Site
  • Usability is “Task Oriented” and should enable momentum so users can complete tasks
  • Allow search capabilities so a user can expand or refine their search
  • Users need to understand where they are.  Use breadcrumbs, multi-tier navigation and good cross-linking.
Applicable Examples
  • Show price: Don’t wait until it goes into a cart or make them call
  • Use detailed descriptions:  Good for end-user and SEO
  • Use simple language
  • Have clear labels and links
  • Unclutter your design, using goog images, clean font, etc…
  • Consistent navigation that is easy to understand
  • Easy shopping cart process (minimal steps)
Usability: Do I Really Need To Pay Attention To This?
  • Yes, if you users can’t find it, it doesn’t exist
  • Search engines will mimic what they think people want/like
  • Use W3C standards (alt tags, logical headers, 1-click away)
  • SEO vs Usability:  Good usability almost always will trump SEO
  • Bad User Interface + Long Checkout Process = High Bounce Rate
  • Understand who your site is targeting (Demographics)
Usability: How Do I Figure Out What Actually Works

Look at your Analytics:

  • Where are people leaving?
  • Are they getting to the important pages
  • What content are they easily getting to?
  • Goals – Where are they being abandoned
  • Check site logs and errors
The 5 Second Test

This was my favorite part of the entire presentation. The idea is to find someone that has never seen your site before and have them look at it for 5 seconds.

Ask them:
Do they understand what the site is about?
What they sell?
What actions are you suppose to complete?
What demographic is the site targeting?

Because user have such a short attention span online, you have 5 seconds to capture your user.  Doing this test can give you feedback on certain design related issues you have to work on.

Usability: Show Me The Money!
  • Don’t call your products “products, call them exactly what they are
  • Great Usability = increased links, traffic, rankings, and conversions
  • If better usability can increase conversions on your site from 1%-3%, then sales just went up 100%-300%

If you have attended a recent Meetup and would like your tips featured on StayOnSearch, let us know.

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About the Author

Mark Thompson

Mark is the creator of StayOnSearch and president of Search Creatively, a full-service Internet Marketing Company located in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also contributes to many industry related blogs including Search Engine Journal and is active on Facebook and Twitter. Follow Mark on Twitter
water garden landsca
water garden landsca

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

Amanda McNeill
Amanda McNeill

I agree with Phil. There is a disconnect between SEO and usability. And it needs to be addressed on both ends. Why send traffic to a site if the bounce rate is going to be 80%? SEO is time consuming and tedious and sending users to a confusing or frustrating site is a waste of effort. You may be interested in this article from Website Magazine that reviews usability tools I am affiliated with but the article covers several others. Amanda

Phil Buckley
Phil Buckley

Nice post Mark. I wish more designers and developers would pay more attention to basic usability. Usability can impact everything else on your site. I've talked with people who don't see the thread between SEO and usability until I explain that no one links to a poorly designed site - bink, the light goes on. I love the 5 second test also, I always make my wife do that one for sites I'm working on :-)