Website usability checklist for dummies

You do not want this to be the entirety of your home page.

You do not want this to be the entirety of your home page.

Category: technical

No, this is not about avoiding grey-on-grey colour schemes, inserting alt text, or making sure your site loads 'reasonably fast' (what does that even mean). This is much, much simpler. This is about the bare necessities of public-facing-sitehood: if you expect people to read/interact with whatever content you put on your website, then you need to make sure it meets all of these requirements.

Your website should have:

  1. An 'about' section explaining why the website exists (unless it's self explanatory). On its own page, or in the header/sidebar/footer. Either way, users should be able to find it by doing a Ctrl+F search for 'about' or 'FAQ' or 'Q&A' on the home page. If it's a one-liner, or if you insist on naming it something twee like 'regarding the purpose of this site', place it somewhere ultra prominent (e.g. next to the title). Surrounded by flashing lights if necessary. Just kidding.

  2. A reason for the user to engage with your website. Why should they buy your product? Why should they use your app? Why should they browse beyond the landing page? Why should they bother staying for more than two seconds? You can do this however you like: taglines, diagrams, testimonials, reputation, compelling/useful content, an existing userbase...anything. Just be careful with videos - they take time to download, buffer and watch, and may not be available to everyone.

  3. A 'contact' section so users can connect with the entity behind the website. Same rules as the 'about' section. The section should contain either an email address or a contact form. Businesses and organisations must also include the following:

    • address
    • telephone number
    • opening hours (if applicable)
    • pricing information (if applicable. And no, 'register to get a quote' doesn't count.)

That's it. Oh and if you're really conscientious, consider putting your site name in the <title> tag.

About this blog post

I've seen too many sites that don't know the first thing about being a website. Both my day job and hobbies involve searching for and validating information on the internet. As a result I eat websites for breakfast: if, say, your contact form is buried deep within five levels of nested links, I can and will find it if I want to. But if it has to be there first, no??

Further reading.

How to draw a Geneva drive using a compass and straightedge How to make your own 3D Minecraft font logo in GIMP