Usability defines how easy a website is to use, and has an impact on the User Experience. Elements on the page must be clear, concise, and unambiguous. Other factors to consider in Web Usability are that the content works on all browsers and devices, as well as being appropriate for all demographics.
There are Design Patterns that have now become commonplace, which users have become familiar with. These include the icons used on websites. The simple ‘hamburger’ icon has become a familiar icon which has a standard meaning of ‘menu’. Users see this icon on all websites they visit, and instantly know what it is for.
Humans like recognition and familiarity, so using icons which people know the meaning of can improve the Usability of a website. Using icons which users have no idea what they mean can have a huge reduction in the trust of the website. Other icons which users have a previous understanding of are baskets, trollies, or bags for the shopping cart. Deviating from these icons begins to confuse the user, making them think, and have to learn new patterns.
Websites must also be Accessible, allowing users with disabilities to access them. This involves using semantically correct HTML, and using descriptive text for links rather than ‘click here’. Websites must also be able to be navigated using the keyboard, via the tab key, as well as the mouse. Websites should not have any flashes, which could cause seizures.
In December 2010, the British Standards Institute (BSI) released a Web Accessibility Code of Practice, which describes what is expected of websites to comply with the UK Disability Discriminations Act 1995, to ensure websites are accessible and usable by everyone.
All websites I build are accessible to all users, allowing users to easily navigate around the website, and (where the design permits) I avoid using ambiguous icons which can have more than one meaning, to avoid confusing the user, or making them learn new design patterns just for that website, where they may not have seen a particular icon used before.
Recent Usability / Accessibility Blogs
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