Web Site Usability

Once you have established your site on the Internet and have traffic coming to your site, what do you do? Your site must be usable.

First question to ask yourself: What do I want people to do? Put another way, the question can be “What are the expected outcomes?” It isn’t always “more sales” but that might be your answer. It might also be more newsletter subscribers or perhaps more blog comments or even more requests for information.

Once you have determined the desired outcome, you can begin to plan around it. Each page should have one desired outcome for maximum usability. The next step is then to determine how all the pages fit together into one cohesive site. For example, if you are a realtor selling homes, you probably want to move one group of people towards the buyer’s information pages and another group of people to the seller’s information. Once a prospective home seller is in the right section (the expected outcome of the home page was to move buyers to buyers’ info and sellers to sellers’ info) the goal of one page might be to request an evaluation of the home’s value. Another page might be intentioned to show ranges of prices for homes in an area and then ask them to call for a detailed analysis.

The next step, the one that is often skipped, is to test it. If you are indeed a realtor, get some sellers to go through your site while you watch. Find out if they can indeed accomplish what you want them to. Then get a buyer to go through your site. Give them a specific task to accomplish. See if they can do it. If the testing has good results, pat yourself on the back and launch. If the results aren’t so good, you probably need to go back and repeat steps 1 and 2 until you get the desired results.

Just because you “hit it” with your site and get the results you want, don’t stop looking at how you can make it even better.

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