It does not matter how beautiful the dress is, if you are not comfortable with it., the dress is a complete waste. Same goes for a website, if your design usability looks great but is not easy to use, your website is a failure. However, this does not mean that you should not focus on the layout. Beautiful and attractive layout is important however, then your priority should be easy navigation.
I have seen a lot of fresh designers focusing more on coming up with an attractive layout instead of trying to make website more user-friendly. This is exactly where they go wrong because they need to focus more on usability and less on the outlook. With a perfect layout you can grab the initial attention but if a user is unable to navigate through your website, he will leave it regardless of how pretty your website looks.
Understanding the Concept of Design Usability :
To be simple and precise, usability is making functions and features of your website easy and accessible. Now, when you put your website over the internet, you cannot control the kind of audience who will be visiting your website. Obviously you have a target audience in mind but while making a website you need to design a generic website which is easy to use for every kind of person. You can make a visitor stay on your website for a longer period only if the website is easy to use. There are a few things that you should keep in mind while designing a website. First of all, your website should be easy enough for a user to learn its functions. The website should be efficient and it should definitely have a purpose to serve.
Understanding the Importance of Design Usability :
You need to make users stay on your website and an attractive layout will keep the users on your website for a very short period of time. For a longer stay, you will have to engage users and that can only be done if a user understands the functions of your website easily and is capable of navigating from one page to another. Beautiful layout is good way of getting exposure but you need to focus more on usability.
Following are a few best practices that a designer can practice in order to come up with a website which looks good and is easy to use as well:
Always Think Before You Leap :
One should always think and plan things properly before jumping onto anything. Brainstorming is a very important part of any project. First step is always very important in any activity so before you start designing, you need to have a clear view of how to go about things. Beginners do ignore the importance of brainstorming because for them doing is more important than thinking. This is why some designers do not become really successful. So think and then start designing.
Breathing Space :
Now that we are talking about usability, empty spacing or white spaces are an important factor of making a website more user-friendly. While designing a website, make sure you are leaving enough space between images and text so that visitors are able to read the text and view images clearly. You can even use negative space positively if you really give importance to usability of a website
Readable Font :
At the end of the day, every visitor is coming to your website with a purpose. Most of the visitors want to get information regarding something so you need to make sure that you are using the text which is easily readable. Line spacing and width are also very important factors so as a designer you need to work really hard to provide visitors with a readable font. Let us take a look at a few ways which can help you in providing a good readability:
Not Every Font Is Readable :
Always keep in mind that not every font can be readable. Some fonts might come across as very interesting and they might look good too but they cannot be used for a complete website. Such beautiful fonts are not easily readable. Also, reading a book and reading online are two different things so when people are reading online, they do not want to make an effort.
Types of Font :
Try using serif fonts as they increase readability.
1.3 and 1.5 are ideal for spacing and height. As far as width is concerned one should be using 150 characters in a single length to make things more readable.
Left alignment is always preferred as its easy to read. It is also psychological that a person feels comfortable with reading a page which is aligned on left side.
Font Size :
Do not go above any more than size 12 when it comes to font.
Perfect Color Combinations :
Usage of good color combinations is very important if you really want your visitors to stay. Anything that is not pleasing to the eyes of visitors can annoy them and make them leave your website. You need to use good color combinations so that they are soothing to the eyes of the visitors. Also, you need to very careful while selecting the text color and the color of its background. Do not go for colors that can make reading of the text difficult. For instance, people do tend to think that white and black is a perfect contrast however, using white text in a plain black background is not a very good idea. Do not use too flashy or bright colors in text as well as they can get really difficult to read.
Navigation Is the Most Important Thing :
Navigation can be called another name of usability. This is probably the most important thing in design usability because users should be able to navigate from one page to another on your website without any hassle or confusions.
Your website’s tab should be self explanatory and users should be able to find their ways quite easily on your website. If a user needs a lot of guidance, your website does not have an easy navigation. Now, when I talk about easy navigation it means your website should have a consistency in it. The menu should have the same position on every page. Each and every tab should be visible and easy to find. Assign different colors for different sorts of links such as active links, selected or hover links. Use images and text both to help users understand what the link is all about. Using images only is not a good idea.
Final Thoughts :
As a creative designer, you obviously have a spark to design usability something new and different. However, your attempts to come up with something new and extra ordinary can be really annoying for the users. Being creative is good but at the same time you need to keep in mind that you have to keep things simple as well for users to be able to walk through your website without any issues. A little bit of experimenting here and there is a great thing but keep things simple and easy if you really want to keep your visitors happy.