In this episode of Actionable Marketing In Minutes we talk about: Effective Web Design Principles for Usability.

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From simple platforms for sharing content, modern websites have evolved into complex structures, in keeping with ever-increasing user expectations. While we all know that no one likes a website that frustrates them, many businesses still make the mistake of becoming myopically focused on the aesthetics of their site, even at the cost of usability. However, in the vastly competitive digital landscape, where billions of websites are competing to grab the user’s attention, both the design and development process should be focused around the goals and requirements of your prospective users, the folks you are trying to communicate with.

Optimizing your website for usability and a seamless user experience ensures ease of use and fosters greater user engagement. Simply put, users should easily understand how the site navigation works, be able to find any information they are interested in, and know how to take appropriate action through clear call to action, otherwise known as CTA. Then – and only then – can you truly accomplish something of value with your website, whether it is brand awareness, driving traffic, lead generation, sales etc.

With that in mind, let’s go over four basic usability principles that you should definitely consider during the development of your next website project.

1. Kis- Keep It Simple Principle

The simplest solution is usually the best. In mathematics, they call this the concept of ‘elegance’ and it generally holds true in the laws of nature as well. The same principle can be applied to your website to get rid of unnecessary design elements that serve no functional purpose and allow you instead to focus on simplicity in a number of ways, including:

· Recognizing that white space is probably your most important design element, and is often the most overlooked.

· Be careful not to use too many colors in your site design; certainly no more than five, plus or minus two. Many design experts suggest three.

· Use a maximum of three different typefaces in at the most three different sizes. More importantly they have to be legible.

· Only use features such as graphics, flash animation, or edge-to-edge videos if they will help a user complete a task or perform a specific function.

2. Follow the 3-Click Rule

The 3-Click Rule emphasizes that users generally leave a website if they can’t access a feature or find information they are looking for within three mouse clicks. Going by this basic usability principle, you will create a website with a great intuitive user experience (UX) design and easy navigation. This is why navigation menus should be simple and short, limited to containing only five to nine items at the most. Keep navigation clutter-free to avoid confusing your site visitors. For a large site with many sections and

pages, it is better to use a mega menu, drop down menu or sub-navigation. Some other aspects you should consider for navigation are:

· Include a search box at the top of your site.

· Use breadcrumbs on every page.

· Multiple ways to explore content.

· Custom 404 Page.

· Good internal linking within your page copy.

3. Remember the 4-Second Rule

No doubt about it, we are impatient. And – bad news is – we are becoming more so each year. It makes for a better user experience the less you make anyone wait. Slow page load speed is a major turn off for visitors and one of the main reasons for them clicking out. In fact, many studies have been shown that thousands of dollars in ecommerce sales are lost with each millisecond increase in page load time. And Google’s ranking algorithm now factors in this element.

For good usability, your site must load the most important visible elements within 4 seconds. This is easily done by following a few simple rules:

· compress images,

· enable cache,

· limit use of plugins,

· minify JavaScript or CSS files,

· optimize databases, and

· most importantly, select a good hosting provider.

4. Pay Attention to the 5 Golden Rules Of Interface Design

This set of principles apply to most interactive user systems and web design.

1. Be purposeful in page layout and placement of items to focus user attention on the most important pieces of information and to improve readability.

2. Good error handling and displaying the right error message is a must.

3. Offer informative feedback as an indication of success or failure of your vistor’s actions. If necessary, communicate next steps to reduce frustration for your user.

4. Create a consistent experience and use common user interface (UI) elements to create patterns in layout and design across your entire website to help facilitate efficiency. If people aren’t taking time to learn about your cleverness, they will use that time to consume the information you are trying to provide to them.

5. Don’t hide all valuable content behind forms. Make web forms easy to use and accessible to everyone. And be sure to ONLY ask for information that is truly needed.


As is obvious by now, usability and design are interconnected. If you keep your site’s viewers at the center of your creation process when building a working website, you will end up with a beautiful site that promotes ease-of-use and functionality.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. Please connect with us on Twitter @DirectiveGroup or on LinkedIn. Let us know what you think and what you’d like to hear about next. And if you like our podcasts please share with your networks using hashtag #actionablemarketing.

Join us for an upcoming episode where we go over “How To Improve Your Mobile Marketing Strategy”