The usability of a website is influenced by a variety of factors including:
- Information Architecture – How the information is organized into the pages within the website
- Information Design – How the information is presented within a webpage
- Interactivity Design – The interactive features provided within the website such as links, buttons, drop-down menus and online forms.
The information architecture of the website should be clearly defined within the main navigation bar. This structure should be simple and easy for users to understand. Pages should be well-labeled and appropriate. Pages should have an adequate amount of content.
Reorganizing the architecture around the needs of audience groups will improve architecture and navigation and make the website easier to use.
The layout of information within each of the pages should be consistent throughout the Website. This creates a sense of professionalism and avoids potential confusion caused by varying layout.
Usability studies have shown that website users tend not to read but rather scan pages for the information they are looking for. Avoiding large blocks of text helps make content more scanable.
Breaking up text using images and graphics as well as using lists and headings makes content more welcoming and easier to read.
The main navigation bar should be at the top of each page, easily identifiable and clearly labeled. Link labels should match page names. Limiting the number of links at each level helps make the scope of the site more memorable.
Providing different ways to navigate the site supports an increasingly diverse group of users.
Testing how real users interact with the website is an important part of the design process. Usability test are easy to do and require fewer test subjects than one might think. Many organizations choose to skip this process only to discover serious difficulties with the usability of a project after it has been completed. In adopting an iterative approach to usability testing, issues can be identified and fixed early in the production process.