In today’s post I’ll be discussing five key elements that are important to increasing the usability of your site for people of ALL abilities. This leads to optimizing users experience. The first few seconds of entering a website is crucial in determining whether a person will stay or leave. According to this article by Time (2015) we have the attention span of about 8 seconds and within those 8 seconds the user assesses whether they are able to navigate your website, understand your content and get the information they need. This post will explain five elements that will maximize a users experience within those 8 seconds.
1. Can a user navigate your website using only their keyboard?
According to CNIB approximately 500,000 Canadians have vision loss and that means many of them rely on their keyboard to help navigate. In addition, Huffington Post wrote that Canadians are the heaviest internet users. Approximately 500,000 Canadians have identified that they have a vision loss disability. Many of these individuals use a screen reading software and the tab button when surfing the internet. Set various navigating tasks for yourself and see how quickly you are able to access the link you want to click using just the tab button. This can help you evaluate what steps to remove to allow a user to access certain parts of your site faster.
2. Do your videos provide captions?
Canadian Hearing Society reported that 1 in 4 Canadians reported some hearing loss and over 500,000 Canadians report as deaf or hard of hearing. If a user with hearing loss enters your website and is confronted with videos or audio but they cannot interpret that information then your bounce rate increases because that user is more likely to leave your website if they cannot access your information. Additionally, people who enter your website or see your video on Facebook but they cannot listen to your content because they are on a bus, at work or in class (Guilty!) then they too are more likely to not press play if they cannot access your content silently. Videos are a really popular source of media because it allows creativity and engages users. Allow your business to expand their demographic to include people of different abilities and you will reap the rewards of having loyal customers who continue to visit your website because unlike other companies, you made your content available for them to access.
3. Are your titles clear and helpful to the user?
This is one may seem simple to understand but ask any of your friends or colleagues to look over your company’s website and ask them if they find your titles, menus and links clear and helpful. You may find that they have different opinions. A clear and helpful title should be understood by someone of 10 years of age (provided that this is B2C content). The fonts used should be sans serif (meaning without curls), there should be white space around your titles and it should be succinct (to the point). Regardless of reading ability or whether English is a first language using plain language ensures that all users can read your content.
4. Will the user encounter any interruptions?
Many times I visit a blog only to be bombarded by pop ups with the authors face plastered all over asking me to kindly give my email in exchange for their new hottest e-book. Often I can’t find the exit button because its so tiny so I just exit the tab entirely. I leave disappointed and kind of annoyed. Let me read your content first. If I decide I like it then I will happily offer my email to receive notifications about new blog posts. If you want to market something in a pop up, disruptive and in your face way, consider if its really worth it. Sure you may get a couple emails but are they honest emails? Or are they entering emails just to make your face go away. Always strive to provide genuine content in exchange for genuine and loyal customers. Not only is it annoying for able bodied folks, imagine a person with dyslexia is trying to read your content but then is disrupted by pop ups, pop ups can act as a trigger which may stress the user.
5. Is your web page/site consistent?
Finally. Consistency. Consistency should be everywhere. Visually. Text. Layout. Each page should have titles, links, menus, palette, logo and text in a similar position. Having consistency on each page allows the user to assume exactly where the information they need will be so that they can maximize their time. It also allows acts as a mental template for users who need assistance looking for information. Remember, each time they click a new page, the 8 second timer starts ticking but if everything is in the same place then we’re good to go!
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