U-C WEBS' founder Nardo KuitertBy Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in Minding Our Business, September 2008 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]

The part that I like most about my consultancy? The usability evaluations, or “website critiques”. Being able to point out the obvious (“Duh!”) that so many people do not see until you point it out to them can be very rewarding.

Yes, many of the usability guidelines are obvious. A lot of dotted i’s and crossed t’s. And many things revolve around a common theme: “Don’t Make Me Think”. Because your website should not make people think – at least not in the sense of “OK, what should I do now?”. Your website should be obvious and effortless – should suck people in.

So how to make YOUR website obvious and effortless?

Well, for starters your navigation should be clear. Cute is often confusing. You can be cute in your written content, but the navigation menu should be crystal clear. It should also be organized in a logical manner, so people understand how the various pieces (pages) are connected.

Hyperlinks within the text (a few, not too many) can be used to direct people from page to page, without them having to think too hard about where to go next. It also helps you to direct your website visitors to where YOU want them to go – your conversion pages, like the pre-sales page, order page or contact form.

Do not forget that trust is a very fragile thing in the online world. Make sure you have a clear and easy to find About Us and Contact Us. Even when you have a home-based business and you do not want to disclose the address: at least mention a town and a Province. The Internet is an International place, and without a geographical marker many people will leave your site prematurely. Ask yourself: would you contact a site owner if you had no idea whether they are located in Fergus, Ontario or in Nhlangano, Swaziland? (yes, you can Google that!)

Don’t make me think!

Nardo Kuitert is an Internet Consultant with Fergus Website Development and Optimization firm U-C WEBS (www.u-cwebs.com). U-C WEBS also offers Internet advertising opportunities on www.ferguspages.com. (link opens in a new window)

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