- Keep Your Content Concise
- Website content (headers, lists, tables, paragraphs, etc.) should be concise and logical. Headers should be given short, accurate descriptions that use familiar terms so that users can quickly scan them. Keep paragraphs reasonably short and use lists where necessary to improve readability.
- Use Sensible Link Names (Avoid “Click here”)
- Link names should have an accurate description of where they lead. For example:
Learn more about <a href="#">feeding bonsai trees</a>.
is far better than
<a href="#">Click here</a> for more information on feeding bonsai trees.
This is also better for SEO, since the link has some context.
- Color Code Links
- Make sure users can tell that a link can be clicked on. If you have to change the default link color for aesthetic reasons make sure it still stands out as a link. Visited links should have a different text color from links that have never been visited. This isn’t usually a problem, since you need to go out of your way to change it, but it helps users a lot if they know where they’ve visited already. Especially when interlinking is so important…
- Interlink Your Site
- Interlinking involves creating links to other pages within your site. It’s not only great for SEO but it provides a good way for users to explore your site. Don’t confine internal links to the navigation menu, make sure you include them in your content so that users can find new pages while they’re reading.
- Use Bold
- Remember, users don’t read content, they scan it. Strip paragraphs of unnecessary language and draw attention to key words or phrases by putting them in bold. Highlight keywords so that they stand out when users are scanning. They can conduct more in-depth reading if they find the snippet of interest. Just don’t go too crazy with it and be careful that your bold text isn’t competing with your headlines.
- Line Length
- Content can be hard to read if the line length is too long or too short. Research has shown that around 11 words per line is optimal for adults. Children tend to prefer slightly shorter line lengths. Obviously these days with flexible and responsive designs this can be difficult to control, but it’s worth considering when designing your layout.
- Use White Space
- Don’t be afraid of white space. Not only can it look sophisticated but it can act as a great separator between content areas and is excellent for avoiding a cluttered site.
- Use Sans Serif Fonts
- Sans serif fonts have been shown to be easier to read for main body text, although serif fonts can work well in headings as it gives them a distinct look.
- Keep Color Blindness in Mind
- A lot of people don’t realize this but around 8% of males (and only about 0.5% of females) are color blind (myself included). Don’t forget to take this into consideration when choosing colors. Red & green color blindness is the most common, however other color combos such as blue & purple can be problematic. For information on which colors combinations to avoid read about color blindness at usability.gov.
For more tips on how to make your website more usable take a look at my other articles on website usability.