Every one of us has gone to a website that created a frustrating experience. We have seen websites with too much content, requiring endless scrolling. Some websites have annoying ads or videos playing, distracting your attention away from the content. Other websites have too many menu options, causing confusion where we can’t find any of the information we want.
What happens when you visit a site like this? In most cases, you end up leaving the site within a few seconds of arrival. The frustration makes it unbearable to stay on the website. However, websites like this exist because web designers made typical usability mistakes.
So far this year, CueCamp has conducted over 1500 website reviews. Our team sees several common usability mistakes made time and again. We want to share with you a short list of the top mistakes we see in hopes that you can learn from others mistakes.
#1: Too Much Stuff
Imagine a new user arriving on your website for the first time, and consider the first impression they’ll get when visiting the homepage. The homepage should contain a few lines of content telling users what the site is all about. Visitors who can’t readily understand the purpose of your website within a few seconds will leave.
One of the biggest mistakes we see is cramming way too much information above the fold. Websites with tons of images, text, ads, and animations will take a while to load, and they’ll confuse your visitors. Your website will look crowded and confusing to users: so avoid busy designs and keep it simple.
#2: No Style Guide
The confused website is one which features a variety of typefaces, images, colors, and themes, none of which relate to each other. This occurs for a number of reasons. It can happen when you don’t have a good handle on your branding. You can easily fall into this trap when you like too many design templates and want to use them all. It can also happen when you’re trying to convey too many ideas at once. When designing a website, choose one theme, one logo, and one typeface: create a style guide and stay with it across all aspects of your website.
#3: Inconsistent Layout
Consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles: when things always behave the same, users don’t have to worry (or spend valuable resources thinking) about what will happen, and can focus on your content instead. Users should know what to expect based on earlier experience. For example, each internal page of your website should maintain the same location of the main menu on each page, and the content of the main menu navigation should be kept consistent.
Our team runs into this issue frequently: we visit a few internal pages and see that the main menu might move from the top of the page to the left side of the page, or the page content might move to a different location. This confuses users by forcing them to reorient themselves, finding where items are now located on each page: distracting attention away from the page content itself. Users expect common things on websites and expect to see those items on your website: such as a company logo and main navigation menu at the top of the page. Users form their expectations for your website based on what’s commonly found on sites all over the web. If you deviate far from common practices, your site can be harder to use and users may leave.
#4: No Call to Action
Your call to action is the gateway to your business. It guides your visitors to act: Click here! Get a coupon! Learn more about this product! Obviously, it’s very important that your call to action clearly tells visitors what they need to do to take the next step. There should be enough information that visitors know what they’re going to get from taking action, and what information they need to provide.
The content on your website should be written in a way that gives useful information while drawing the user to some call to action. Make sure your call to action is concise and leads customers where you want them to go: allowing them to take the next step in engaging your business. The biggest key is to keep form-filling to a minimum and be sure to give users time to become familiar with the benefits offered before a call to action appears.
#5: No Contact Information
Hard to find contact information is a common yet critical mistake. When visitors decide to make a purchase or use your services, lead capturing is crucial. It’s imperative they have the necessary contact information as soon as they decide you’re the right company for them. If a visitor has to search through your site for contact information, he or she will likely get frustrated and leave. Your “Contact Us” page should always be just one click away, or your information should be at the bottom (footer) of every page.
From a marketing perspective, you want to make sure that users who visit your site can easily get in touch with you. Your social media outlets should be listed on your website with your contact information to lend credibility and build trust. Your contact info (address, phone, email, etc.) should be easily accessible, such as in the footer of each page.
Try to audit your website by imagining yourself as a new user that has never before visited the website. Your website is a representation of you and your business, and if you present a trustworthy online image on your website, you will struggle to gain new leads. By giving your users multiple ways to engage the business, you are giving users options to interact and building trust by showing you have nothing to hide.
Check in with us next week when we reveal the next 5 common usability mistakes that businesses frequently make on their websites. In the meantime, if you would like your website reviewed, please visit CueCamp and request your free marketing analysis video. You will receive a 5-10 minute video that analyzes the usability and marketing effectiveness of your website, delivered within 48 hours.