Improve Your Site Today – 10 Easy Tweaks

One of my favorite sites is Smashing Magazine. They regularly feature great how-to articles and free downloads to help us all improve our web sites.

Today they posted an article entitled 10 Useful Usability Findings and Guidelines. Many times articles like these aren’t much help to those of us who aren’t coding from scratch or full-on web designers. But everything on today’s list are things that we can – and should! – all apply to our web sites, whether they are HTML, WordPress or something else.

Here’s the summary of what you should do to your site today to improve your visitor’s experience:

 

    • Put the form label above the field, rather than next to it.Bonus Tip: Don’t bold the label, either. Believe it or not, it actually increases the time it takes to fill out a form.

 

    • Use images of faces that are facing toward the things you want your users to read or do. Users are drawn to faces, and then they naturally look wherever the face is looking. So, plug a face in there and make sure it’s pointing toward the *next* thing you want your visitor to do.

 

    • Make your site look professional. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But studies show that users first judge your site by how it looks, then by the content you provide. Clinch that first impression by making sure your site is clean, error-free and looking good.

 

    • Put the most important information Above the Fold (the area your visitors sees when they first load your page, without scrolling). The vast majority of users don’t scroll down, so make sure you’ve got the good stuff where they’ll see it.

 

    • Use blue for links. Users are used to blue=link. Give them what they expect and they are more likely to hang around and click.

 

    • Make your search box 27 characters wide (not spaces – characters). Apparently, this is the optimum size so people don’t get frustrated and leave. Wouldn’t you hate to find out that a visitor left your site rather than learn your critical info, all because your search box was too small? That’s something that is just way too insignificant to lose visitors over. Fix it now.

 

    • Use enough white space. This is another one of those things that seems like a no-brainer, but it’s all too easy to start cramming stuff onto your site (especially when you’re trying to keep it above the fold). There are so many great features available! But learn to ask yourself – is this really critical to my user? Delete the extra stuff and keep that site clean and clutter free.

 

    • Do user testing. Bottom line? Any testing is better than none. So if you have zero budget, get your buddies, your family or the guy who lives next door to do it. But do it.

 

    • Give your visitors all the information they need. If you have information pages for products or services, make sure that what your users need is there. If it gets too cluttered, put some details on an obviously linked page, but make sure they get what they need to make a decision.

 

    • Don’t confuse content with advertising. If you have any links or info boxes that look like ads – change ’em out, fast! People are expert at ignoring advertising. So if your stuff looks like ads – that means it’s being ignored.

 

This is just a snapshot of Smashing Magazine’s much more detailed report. For how-tos and background information, be sure to check out their article.

Now, go tweak your site. I’m starting on mine right now!

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