Usability of a website

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have get to know about the importance of this term just one year back. One of my colleague took a wonderful seminar on this topic, which led me to do more R&D on this.

As I am passionate towards internet I did my research of usability engineering for web applications. A short note on usability “Usability engineering is a field that is concerned generally with human-computer interaction and specifically with making human-computer interfaces that have high usability or user friendliness. read this article for more information.

Here are the questions that most widely used by a web developer while checking the usability of an application

  • In a web application how we can make sure that our application is user friendly ?
  • Do we have any standards or guide lines to check ?
  • What should be checked to assure the usability of an application?

I have not heard about any specific standards created to measure usability of a website. To me it is all about common sense and effective thinking. The basic rule of thumb to measure the usability is “think from an end user perspective”. Being a developer I know this can not be possible always.

Here I will explain some of the tips and techniques I used to increase the usability of my website.

Surveys says that 90% of the internet users knows how a website works and how to use hot keys to navigate between contents. However when we develop a website we have to consider the remaining 10% also. The requirement or a feature that we get for an application can be seen in some other known web sites like ( facebook, twitter, orkut etc ). For the time being I believe that giants are proved their application’s usability thus they are getting more and more users. So coming back to the topic, when you receive a requirement:

  • Identify whether it is available on any other website. Check how they implemented it?
  • Use the flow, add your own improvement techniques
  • Test the application ( make it bug free first and top most thing 🙂 )
  • Give it to a normal internet browsing guy ( a non technical , regular internet user ) collect feed back from them

Other than the above mentioned items I used to check the following things too:

  • Clear and straight navigation with proper breadcrumb support
  • Meaningful icons and hovers
  • Organized contents and title
  • A font which can be read easily by the user
  • An interface which will not give too much strain for the end user’s eyes ( color of text, background color etc )
  • predictable flow of pages ( we have to develop the pages in such a way that the user can be able to predict what will come next )
  • Reduce the number of clicks to see any particular information
  • Faster page loading
  • Minimal Input collection from the user
  • The navigation area/block of contents should not change its position, it should constant for the entire website.

Please share more ideas, we can discuss it here further

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