How to Apply Usability and SEO to Your Website

Balancing Findability with Usability

When this website was first launched in 1996 it was called Cre8pc.com and focused on teaching visitors how to submit their websites to search engines and directories. By 2002 it was a thriving blog devoted to Holistic Usability and SEO, a combination of web design and organic SEO methods that helped make websites usable by all people and findable by all search engines.

Today, UsabilityandSeo.com gathers together online marketing strategies with user experience design by bringing together the best companies, resources and tools. Websites on web design, search engine optimization, full service agencies to hire and the best usability and SEO tools are in high demand and who best to tell you about them but Kim Krause Berg, who has been sharing information online since 1995.

After drifting off into various ventures, most recently having launched my own company, Creative Vision Web Consulting, LLC, I decided to bring back some of the fun of sharing the best companies to hire and providing checklists to downloadso that you can apply the best practices to your website.

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36 Ecommerce Website Changes That Will Create An Instant Conversions List

Is your website ready for the holiday season?  Do you sell products online?  Are you sure your site is user friendly and persuasive?

The objective of this checklist is to provide you with assistance in making sure your website is ready to generate revenue.  Each item is intended to support your online marketing investment by increasing the overall usability for everyone who visits your site.  User experience design is most often considered an afterthought.  Truly successful websites include usability, user experience and customer experience design as part of their business requirements and plans for their online presence.

Remember – Every page is a “landing page”.

1. Help your website visitors make good decisions. Many people don’t know what they want. Help them make choices or browse longer. Most visitors just need a little extra incentive to make a purchase.

2. Use models of all shapes, ages and sizes for clothing sites. The images you select may turn away potential customers. For example, Victoria’s Secret neglects curvy women, plus size and women over 27 years old.

3. Choose crisp, clear images. Find ways to show the size of products. It is difficult to determine the size of a bird feeder, humidifier or compost bin without either reading a description or viewing a comparison picture. Provide close up details of craftsmanship. Show tread. Provide step by step images of custom work.

4. Online shoppers are unable to touch materials used for clothing, crafts, furniture, etc. Therefore, write product descriptions that describe every detail, including how it feels when touched, worn, and used.

5. Add real life use cases to promote sales. Technical sites with gadgets often forget that how we use devices is important to know. Can your products be used in the rain and snow? What is the average life span of a battery, roofing tile, light bulb? If a light bulb lasts 7 years, it is worth paying a little bit more for it.

6. Some people will not order online with a credit card. They will, however, use their PayPal account. Increase conversions by providing alternative payment methods.

7. Does your navigation inspire clicks? Be descriptive. Add categories. Men’s what? Plus size what? Absolutely avoid mystery links that don’t specify exactly where you are taking visitors. They don’t have time.

8. Look at how Amazon does their site search in the header. Visitors can search the site or by category or with keywords. Auto-complete functionality is also helpful. Your website has to function as the salesperson who is guiding a customer by making suggestions.

9. Add related topics, related items, favorites, testimonials, customer ratings, etc. to product pages.

10. Provide a newsletter with coupon codes, special deals, limited time specials, etc. Never require a phone number for a free newsletter.

11. Offer functions such as wish and favorites lists. Add a way to “Pin” items. This not only acts as a way to add to a personal wish list but advertises your products to others.

12. Membership has its benefits. Provide personalization and perks to increase the number of return customers and visits. Etsy and Amazon are examples that track customer orders and browsing history, which helps visitors with remembering and re-ordering.

13. Put vital information at the “point of action”. For example, place the return policy, shipping and warranties on the product page by inserting brief notes “No hassle returns” and “Free shipping”.

14. Provide examples for how your items are used and then place the call to action button nearby so that it can be ordered with ease. Consider a podcast along with visual and text stories.

15. Always provide navigation that communicates “sense of place” for your visitors, such as where they are, where they came from and where to go next. If a link is intended to take a visitor off the website, provide a warning in the link label that they are about to leave the site.

16. Answer questions at the point of action, point of sale, and inside landing pages. The moment you force a visitor to go hunt for information is the click of death for revenue.

17. Add content. Your products and services will not sell themselves. Describe features in image captions. What are the benefits, how to care for it (think fabric), etc. Add bullet points or tabbed menus for benefits, features, ingredients, comparisons, etc.

18. Create confidence by thinking of every possible concern a guest could have and respond to it with your site. How many days are left to ship? Can you rush it? Answer these questions within the content or product descriptions instead of a FAQ.

19. Provide proof of expertise and skills if you sell services and certain products like crafts online. This might be in the form of awards, customer feedback, ratings, interviews, and video demonstrations.

20. Place your specials, offers, products and promotions on the top half of every landing page and the homepage.

21. Replace your sliders with smaller images. Studies indicate that most sliders do not convert. Replace them with one or two static images, with a killer offer and big juicy call to action button. Reference: Carousels Don’t Convert

22. Update the Title and Meta description. Add a value proposition in the Meta description of each product page. Insert a trigger word such as “Free”, “Award winning”, “Top Rated” into the Title tag. The goal is to stand out in search engine results pages.

23. Review and spruce up your calls to action. Try changing colors for your buttons. Experiment and test color choices. Reference: The Science of Colors in Marketing

24. Navigation links are vital to your website. Without links, people would have no idea where you wish to go. Create momentum by adding action words to top level navigation such as “Explore Resources”, “Learn About Us”, and “Browse Services. Try including keywords and verbs, like “Learn about [my company name]”, “Browse Custom Furniture”, and “Explore Marketing Resources”.

25. Whenever possible, avoid stock photos. Choose “real life” pictures of products, or to help convey a mood, create desire or make an emotional connection with your customers.

26. Place a demonstration video into a page. However, do not set it to run automatically when the page loads. Allow site visitors to choose to watch it when they wish to. If it is used to sell a product, be sure you have a call to action button next to the video.

27. Review text content to be sure it is not too long and rambling. People scan rather than reading every word on a page. Shorten text, and chunk it up with smaller paragraphs and sub-headings.

28. Remove distractions from product landing pages. They know what they want, came to get it and your page must let them order it without any additional nonsense. Related items are okay. Advertisements are not.

29. Provide a site search near the page header or somewhere in the top half of every page for fast access.

30. If you have huge inventories, provide alternative search options such as A-Z search, drop down categories, search by brand, ratings, etc.

31. If you are out of stock on an item, provide a way to backorder it or show when it is available again. Provide a way for your customers to opt-in to receive an email when the product is re-stocked.

Accessibility

Several years ago the department store, Target, was sued because blind persons were unable to make purchases from their website. This was a wakeup call to ecommerce, and any website intending on being used by all people. Accessibility means that all people, no matter what their physical limitation may be, can use your website.

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This means that your website should be designed for people who wear glasses and contacts, are color blind, or may have trouble with lighting and color contrasts. It means that people with injured hands, hand and body tremors and carpel tunnel that makes using a mouse impossible, can still use your website. It means that screen reader software will work, so that people can listen to your website to use it. Design for special needs includes handicapped persons, deaf, blind, those with diseases that cause shaking, and people who are ADD or ADHD and find it difficult to stay focused while reading.

32. Check color contrasts in your text. Use this free color contrast tool. Poor color contrasts in your text content make it difficult to see and read your web pages.

33. Place Alt attributes behind images. Every image should contain an alt attribute that describes the image. Place your company or website name in an alt attribute behind your logo. Never stuff keywords into alt attributes. Reference: Alt Attributes WCAG2.0

34. Be careful when using animation or moving sliders on webpages that contain text that you want your visitors to read. If you insist on a slider, do not put it on automatic. Give your visitors control by allowing them to start and stop the images. Reference: Animation for Attention and Comprehension

35. Avoid colored text on colored backgrounds unless you have tested it for color contrasts. Gray text is a fad. Use black, dark green or dark blue for reading.

36. Never use black for a link color if your text content, headings and sub-headings are also black.