Nielsen Norman Group has conducted a large-scale usability study and revealed the ten most common and damaging web-design mistakes of today. They aren't surprising or new - they're enduring issues that continue to hurt website usability. But, they are all avoidable.
In the post below, Randy Milanovic has highlighted four of the worst offenders, and I have to admit they are all things that have me screaming with frustration at my screen.
- Hiding Your Content - sliders, accordions, tabs. Google can't see them, and your customers aren't impressed by them - they don't have the time and want their information quickly and efficiently.
- Leaving Visitors Stuck at Dead Ends - I have an irrational loathing of cul-de-sacs, and I dislike them even more online. Getting stuck on a page with no obvious next step, or way back to where I was before, drives me mad, and almost always results in me exiting the site altogether.
- Ignoring the Big Questions - These are the sites that miss the fundamental basics, like offering pricing information without having to create an account, for example. Sometimes it is not even clear what products or services the company provide. How do your visitors know if they need you if it is not overtly obvious what you do?
- Useless Features and Information Overkill - These are the websites that are overly-reliant on filters, apps, and plug-ins that don’t add anything to the user experience but make your site more complicated, distracting, frustrating to navigate and slow to load. Or, on the flip-side the sites that have whole pages that are solid blocks of text, with no headers or sections making your content scannable. Both leave me cold.
Many, if not all, of the mistakes, could be easily identified by including user research and usability testing in the website development process and paying attention to the findings from that research.
Before embarking on a new website design, identify your buyer personas, put yourselves in their shoes and ask questions, such as:
- What information would they like to see?
- What language would they use to search for this information?
- What navigation categories or links would make sense to them?
- What format of content would they engage with - blog posts, downloads, video?
- What information would they be willing to trade for your gated content?
- How would they like to interact with you, if they are ready to find out more?
- What annoys them most about using your current website?
To create a successful inbound website, you have to put your users, prospects and customers first, ahead of any 'great' design ideas your MD has seen and wants to replicate, for example. If you've read the list and recognise any of the mistakes in your current website design, it may be time to change your inbound marketing agency.
Most marketers would say they know a bad website when they see one. The crazy fonts, cluttered layouts, and outdated animations are dead giveaways. And yet, we continually see surveys – like this one from Nielson – that show us how lots of organizations keep frustrating online visitors.