Web Design Articles

Website / Web Application / Mobile App Usability


Your website, mobile app or web application is a communication medium that uses visual clues to talk to the users. It should cover all aspects of what you might find inside, and will shape the web experience of the user from start to finish.

Website usability is a key concept in website designing, and a much maligned word. Website usability is NOT ‘a nice looking website with good pictures’. Rather, it should address the more important question of ‘are the people for whom the website / web application is being developed getting what they are looking for?’ In other words, website usability focuses more on solving the needs of the target audience than just a designing a ‘nice looking website’.

Website Usability Vs. Website Accessibility
It is important to understand the difference the website usability and ‘website accessibility.’ Website usability is all about how useful a website / application / mobile app is as against website accessibility which implies how much an app / website is accessible to the visually challenged.

Website / Web App / Mobile App Usability

Web usability can be understood more clearly if the designer answers the following three questions:
1.What do you want your website / app to say?
2.Whom do you want to say it to?
3.How to say it

What do you want to say…

Let us face it – with easy to use CMS tools, designing a website is child’s play now. However, most of the people do not apply thought to the website they create. It is simply a hodgepodge way of quickly - and mostly thoughtlessly – putting up a few web pages that are connected together by some links. 
Before putting up a website or a mobile app, a designer should remember the childhood adage “think before you speak”. As we grow, we also understand that there are more than ways to communicate than only speaking. Your body language, the tone of your voice and your eyes are all visual communication tools. Likewise, in website designing or application development, there more to what you want to say than only the content. The colors you use, the fonts you choose and the images you use are all visual clues to what you want to communicate.

Whom do you want to say it to…

No two people are alike. For a web app / mobile app / website to be useful, it should communicate in such a way that there is no scope for ambiguity. Or at least, in a way that it keeps the ambiguity to a minimum. Your website should give a single and consistent message across all pages. Most clients have a vague notion of why they want to develop a website (‘everybody has a website nowadays, right?’). Well, that is not exactly a good reason to build a website. You need to have a tangible message to say, a service or a product to sell. In short, you need to identify and define the one point one of your website / app first. A good designer will need to find the motive behind why a client wants to develop a website / app before even thinking of other aspects of the mobile app / website.

How to say it…

Invariably, users come to your website or download your app because of one simple thing: content. A good way of ‘how to say it’ is simply to provide them the content they are seeking. It is also important to know who you are saying it to. For example, if you are building a website for 8 – 10 year old kids, you need to keep your language extremely simple, the visuals vivid and the font legible and fun. 

One of the most neglected areas is the naming of the links. Their names should be intuitive; too much jargon or complicated names and you have lost your audience. It is also important to organize your site in a logical way. When you have clarity about who your audience is and what they are seeking, you will have a good idea of how to fulfill their requirements.

It is also necessary to retain consistency in the navigation. Basically, this means that even if you drill down deeper, you keep all the aspects of the website (or app) the same.

Your web application / website / mobile app will be used by many kinds of people. The need of first timers will be different from the repeat audience. You should therefore develop it in such a way that both the new comers and the old timers do not find the content / navigation confusing or boring.

Web Hosting Matters!

Web hosting may not directly relate to web usability, but it is indeed a part of web usability. If you follow all the aspects of usability, but host your website / mobile app on a server that is notoriously slow, you have lost the user. No user likes to wait for more than 20 – 25 seconds to get to the content they want. So, choose your web host carefully!