Web usability is one of the most neglected aspects of digital strategy. Companies seem to put a lot of effort in developing their Social Media campaigns, eDM, graphic design, content management…but often they tend to ask themselves a basic question: “how would the user perceive our website?” So when today, after quite some time visiting crappy websites from new companies, I have come across Sidekicker’s site, I have realised there is still hope in the world of effective Digital Marketing, and thus I have decided to talk about web usability using Sidekicer’s website as a case study.
Landing into a new website containing a complex design could give the user the same feeling as sitting at the cockpit of a space shuttle: confused, overwhelmed, bored…but with one minor difference: on the internet the user is aware that just a mouse click is enough to go to a new website offering the same product or service, and taking less than a second of our time. And the Internet is an unlimited source of options, which means that without even moving from their chairs, those users will certainly find an alternative to a messy website.
Some years ago I read a book from Steve Krug called “Don’t Make me Think”, which explains in a very simple way how websites should be developed in order to be effective, giving an understanding of how an average user interacts with each page; some years later, I still consider this book as the Master Piece of web usability. However, as I am sure not everyone is willing to read it (you don’t know what you are missing), here’s a list of four simple tips you should apply to your own website in order to make it more effective and appealing to visitors (and a happy visitor could become a loyal customer)
1 . Make your website more effective: “Less is more”
Did you know that the average person of any industrialised country receives as much information as 174 newspapers a day? Our brains are so busy processing data that in a natural way, they will try to select whatever is easier for them to understand. A cluttered website will thus be given less attention or, in most cases, ignored. In the example under discussion, you can see a website with a lot of visual content and short but descriptive paragraphs of text. A main menu with just 4 options is enough to find your way around the site, and large buttons are used to grab the user attention what the company considers a conversion. No need of extended explanations, heavy videos, or any other sort of fluff.
2 . Promote your brand through your website
Even if this sounds like a silly tip, believe it or not there are still companies out there that do not use their corporate colours when designing their sites. Ok, most of business will do it, but sometimes in a way so discrete, the branding may be cannibalised by the rest of the site itself. Sidekicker’s main menu, even if simple in structure, has a quite high area that occupies all the width of the page with a uniform colour. This colour is also used for headings, to underscore hyperlinks, design of new buttons and once again, at the footer of the page. This logic is also used with other secondary colours, such as cyan and grey. Once again, well done!
3 . Mobile optimised website
On my previous post “About Smartphones and Beef-Tacos” I already wrote about the importance of having a website that has been optimised for mobile devices. For those readers who thought this requires development of a parallel website, Sidekicker provides an example of how this could be avoided: in their case, they do not have a “parallel” mobile website, but they are simply using the same standard version, however the web structure and layout of the pages have been designed in a way that works well with either: mobile, tablet, and computer devices. Just to mention a point of improvement, the font size of the main menu and text blocks looks a bit too small when viewed from a mobile phone, however there is no need to make a lot of zoom and panning is still easy.
4 . Include “Call to Action” buttons for Conversions
Conversions are the ultimate purpose of your website, they are what really brings you money, customers, generates brand awareness… In a few words, they are those actions that you would like your visitors to perform. However, if the browsing path for an user to complete that “conversion” is not clearly indicated, how would you expect visitors to find their way? This can be solved with a “Call to Action” button, which as the name says, it is a short instruction suggesting the user to do some action. In our example, on the homepage we can see a big button with the word “Post a Job”: not only the colour grabs our attention, but we also know immediately what that button will do if clicked.
My compliments to Sidekicker‘s web designer for such a good site, and good luck to the whole company in their new business adventure.
Do you have any other examples of good websites? Do you know of any really bad example?