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« Proofing your Work On Paper | Main | Web Usability: The Importance of Balancing Content and Graphic Design »

What is Web Usability? And Why You Should Care . . .

When I tell someone that my specialty is “Web Usability,” the response is usually a confused look.  To most people web usability is a foreign concept. Yet, usability is a critical component of any successful web site.

What is web site usability and why is it important to my web site? Web usability focuses on making web sites simple and easy to use. If a web site is simple and intuitive, people enjoy their online experience. If the web site is complex and convoluted, people can't use the web site effectively.  How often do you return to a web site that is difficult to use?

Ignore the Experts, Listen to Your Users
Contrary to what many “experts” might tell you, it is not the web site developers who should be determining the content of your website.  The users of your web site should determine your content. Users dictate the online path they wish to travel and what information is important to them.  Many web sites become extinct, because developers believed they knew better than users what type of content should be included on the site.  Developer and Artist centric design still runs rampant in on the Internet.

Hitting a HOME RUN
When it comes to usability, we subscribe to the concept presented by web usability guru Jakob Nielsen.  His concept is older, yet still holds true today.  In his book, Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity, Nielsen’s concept is summed up with the acronym HOME RUN. The most successful sites have High quality content, that is Often updated, with Minimal download, are Easy to Use,  Relevant to the users needs, Unique to the to online world, and Net-centric to corporate culture.

HOME RUN is a simple methodology, yet highly effective. Make sure you hit a HOME RUN with your web site.

Additional Resource:
Jakob Nielsen's UseIt.com

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