Whether you are sending an e-mail, designing a website or setting up a store, the easier you make the experience for your customer, the more likely they are to be a repeat customer and refer your company.  This also goes for anyone with a website they want others to view.

Using the following steps, you can create increased usability and a more positive customer experience:

  1. Determine the call to action and create a clear pathway to the end result.  What do you want your customer to do?  Whatever end goal you are intending, make it as easy as possible for your customer to get there.  If you’re sending an e-blast and you want them to purchase a particular item, link directly to a place where they can purchase the item.  If you want customers to request a quote from your website, place links in very visible places.
  2. Create a layout prior to designing. Sketch a basic layout of everything you want to include, create category headers that make sense and start designing from there.  That way, you have a clear idea of how everything should fit together and it will make sense to your audience as well.
  3. Keep it clean and concise. Use short paragraphs, bullet points and limited words so viewers can easily skim to find what they are looking for.
  4.  Break sections into chunks with headers. There are times when you need to have a lot of information on a page, but you can make it easier on your viewers by breaking it down.  For example, on a health website, perhaps someone has been diagnosed with a condition and only wants to know about treatment.  By breaking the condition article into smaller sections, the viewer can quickly skip to the treatment section.
  5. Test and observe. The best way to determine usability is to give it a test run.  If you are getting ready to launch a new website, get a group comparative to your target audience and have them test it and provide usability feedback.  Adjust as needed to make the website easy to navigate.  Another option is to use a website heatmap to see precisely where your viewers are clicking.  Integrating Google Analytics is also an excellent way to track trends, clicks and time spent on your website.
  6. Use bullet points and text formatting. Rather than write a paragraph that will likely be skimmed, try breaking the information into a bulleted list for easier reading.  Bold important keywords that your viewers may be looking for.
  7. Make links (and non-links) obvious. It may look cleaner to not underline links, but we have been conditioned to understand that underlined text is usually a link.  That being said, be cautious when underlining non-linked texts because it can be confusing to the viewer.

By making your website, e-blast, store or whatever easier for others to navigate, you are increasing your chances of them returning.  What other ways have you found to increase usability?