HOW TO: Avoid common web usability pitfalls

In previous web usability tests, Base One’s usabilty expert, Susanne Wraight and operations director, Paul Hatcher, discussed the following website problems. How many of these is your site guilty of?

Unnessary jargon
Jargon isn’t just about using industry terminology but creating any language on your site that users may not understand. ‘Fun’ names for areas of content aren’t entertaining for users when they’re not in on the joke and even the most beautifully designed icons make for bad navigational items if there is no explanation of what they mean. Technology terms should be kept as clear as possible – would ‘single Internet line’ be understood by more people written as ‘wired Internet connection for one computer’? Becoming overly formal is another common online pitfall we’ve seen – by keeping language clear and concise everybody understands what they’re reading.

Confusing clickability
We navigate websites by clicking so it helps if it is obvious what elements are clickable on a page. Online convention is that grey equals ‘not selectable’ so it’s best to avoid grey for items you want people to interact with, i.e. buttons and hyperlinks. Buttons are designed to be inherently clickable so users eyes are drawn to them. If your main call-to-action isn’t a button, you run the risk of it not being seen and therefore not clicked.
Images have high clickability too, but users have different expectations of what a click will lead to: a small image of a screenshot should link to a larger version where you can see more detail, not to your sign-up page. It might be clever but some users will see it as a trick and feel cheated.