What is the point of a website if no one can use it? Usability is the study of how to make your website more useful to your users. Sadly, that definition does not emphasize the importance of usability on the web. Think about some of the best websites you know, Facebook, YouTube, Google, etc. With these sites, we often take all of their features that work fluently without any problems for granted. However, consider some of the worst websites that you have visited. Where is the navigation? What am I supposed to do on this form? I HATE popups! What evil person created this website? These might be some of the thoughts that come to your mind on websites with terrible usability.
Now, usability is not exactly the easiest thing in the world to teach. Why, you might ask? First, usability is difficult to define. User experience design, interaction design, etc all have similar definitions and cloud the field of usability. Granted, they all are slightly different in exactly how they approach situations and what elements they give the most focus. But, we will combine all of these ideas into one simplified term of usability.
It is not like a programming language where you can just put a certain hat on and code. No, usability is like a mindset that you use and cannot/should not turn off. You create your websites for users, right? You want people to love your website and your content. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you cannot build a site that is usable, you are wasting your time. A mind focused on usability should be as much a part of you as your right hand.
I will be showing you plenty of case examples where usability can be improved. Certainly, my attempt is to provide a robust overview to help you get into the mindset of a usability expert, but you must accept it. You will get frustrated with all of the extra work it takes to make a website more useful. You might even start questioning the point of going the “extra mile” for your website. I promise you that most of the time, the “extra mile” is worth it.
Usability is one of those things that people try to implement after building a website, which I guess is better than not investing in usability at all. However, usability should be involved in the entire development process. With all of the tangents and rambling to the side, let’s start building our mindset of usability on the web.