Website Usability Depends on Website ‘Cruise-Ability’

Did you know that poor navigation is one of the top reasons that a visitor will leave a website?

A Harris Interactive survey* found that 40% of online shoppers experienced problems with website navigation. Of these people that experience problems with navigation – 42% said they either left the online transaction before completion, or went to a direct competitor for their comparable product. This is why improving navigation will critically affect your website usability.

Another sobering website usability statistic from Usability.gov states: “…approximately 50% of potential sales are lost because users can’t find information and 40% of users do not return to a site when their first visit is a negative experience.”

This tells us that your first impression may very well be your only chance to “wow” a visitor.

With that being said: How well would you rate your website’s navigation?

Two big reasons you should consider employing good website navigation is that it will improve your website usability and search engine optimization (SEO). Therefore, take heed to the following website navigation advice…

4 Tips to Keep Website Navigation Hassle-Free:

Keep it simple, by using text navigation over just picture buttons. Website builders may give you a choice when you are designing the website navigation. If you are caught up in the decision to use text versus using a picture, go with text. Effective communication is important to get across, and some of the message could get “lost in translation” if you are only using pictures for your navigation icons. There is no confusion with a straightforward “Pricing” button, over the use of a dollar sign. Giving clear navigational directions is as important in website usability as having a GPS device is to a tourist in an unknown territory.

Time is a factor. Avoid flash if you are a business if it makes the load time slower. People will not wait on flash to load, no matter how great it looks! If you review a lot of websites (as I do), you will notice that a lot of artists use flash to display their portfolios. There is nothing wrong with this, but keep in mind that some people will not wait to see your art collection if the load time is slow. Delivering your website offerings quickly will keep you from losing potential clients. Plus, the “auto-close” feature (found in many flash navigation menus) has been found to seriously annoy website users.

Have a navigation bar consistently on all of your website pages. This way, a visitor can always get back to where they desire. Leaving a person stranded on a page will frustrate a visitor, even if they know how to use the “Back” button on their browser. Make sure that this is always found in the same location.
Plus, don’t you want them to see all of your content? Having navigation on all of your pages will allow seamless travel through all of your content. This will also improve your Search Engine Optimization.

Lastly, have intuitive feedback for visitors regarding their location. This especially applies to blogs and websites that have links (often in list form) to website content offerings. If you read a blog post found at a specific link, and then when you return to the main page, the link will turn a different color from the un-visited links. This will alert the visitor that they have already been there and can move on to the next selection. This is one of many examples of helpful feedback for website visitors.

Website navigation does not have to be the weakest link of your website. By using text navigation, avoiding flash (when it is noticeably loading slower), having consistent navigation on all website pages, and applies intuitive location feedback, your website can be improved for visitor satisfaction. Use these techniques to improve your conversion rates as well as your search engine optimization in search engines.

If you want to find out more about how Numinix can improve your search engine optimization, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at: sales@numinix.com.

Sources:
http://www.harrisinteractive.com/
*The Harris Interactive survey referenced was conducted in August 2007 across 2,420 U.S. adults using the internet.

http://www.usability.gov/

Image: http://wpprobusiness.com

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