5 Guidelines to Improve Your Website's UsabiltyWebsites have varied goals. Some are created to sell things, others are created to entertain or to inform.  There is one thing that unites all websites, no matter their functions and that is user-friendly design.  No matter the intention of the website, if users cannot interact with it easily those intentions mean nothing.  Here are 5 guidelines to ensure website usability.

Always Keep the User In Mind

Throughout development and testing never forget the end user.  Always keep in mind their goals and desires and ensure your site's design caters to those needs. It pays to remember that those designing the site are not necessarily the end users.  Usability testing with those in the demographic of your end users will be infinitely beneficial during the design process.

Ensure Readability & Visibility

Low contrast text on a colored background can be hard to read (even if it does look great!).  If your users can't read your site, they won't stick around to use it or even see what you offer.  Avoid hard to read typefaces, like script or very thin fonts. This also extends to font size!  Avoid fonts sizes that are too small.  This extends to your images as well. Ensure they look good no matter how they are viewed and they are crisp and clear, especially if you know retina devices will frequent your page!

Clear Navigation

Ensure your navigation is clear and intuitive.   Search is always a helpful function to have.  Users who can't find what they are looking for on your site won't stick around, they will go elsewhere.

Cross Device (and Browser) Compatibility

Users should be able to access, view and use your site no matter the device they are on, or the browser they use. That means responsive design or entirely separate mobile websites to cater to mobile & tablet users.  It also includes following web standards in your code and lots of cross browser testing.

Accessibility

Don't forget about those who may access your site via screen readers or other technology.  Ensure you include things like alt tags, and proper use of header tags to ensure all visitors can use and access your site.

Website usability is key to a successful site.  Keeping your end users in mind throughout the entire design process will ensure you stay on track and develop a site that is easy to use.  Usability doesn't have to come at the expense of visual esthetic but the two can unite to create a truly wonderful site.  How big of a role does usability play in your design process?  Tell us in the comments!