By Ron Jones
December 14, 2009
Usability and SEO best practices have a congruent nature. Designing your site for a compelling user experience means you’re already on a parallel path with your SEO efforts.
Let’s dive deeper and explore more usability concepts and introduce new thoughts on behavioral design and how Web accessibility factor in. Additionally, we’ll look at good usability resources and tips.
SEO and User Optimization
Designing sites for users and search engines is a process that needs to happen early and often. So, in addition to SEO, you should optimize your Web site to reach the right people and deliver what they want.
Think of this as user optimization. Search is the beginning of a site’s user experience. Understanding how your site is represented on search engines and reaches search users is an integral part of good usability.
Humans have the ability to retain short-term information. That knowledge should influence how we design our Web sites.
It’s important to optimize our sites for quick response times and visited link colors. Additionally, sites should offer help and user assistance features in the context to site content so users don’t have to navigate to a separate place to find a help section.
For more on Web usability, check out these 10 useful usability findings and guidelines, and also make sure to look at the links at the bottom of that article for even more usability resources.
Many times, a Web development project has compressed timelines. This usually results in shortcuts and some processes, such as usability testing, getting left out.
Many people feel this is unnecessary and too time consuming. If you spend a sizable amount of money designing or redesigning your Web site, don’t you think that testing it’s usability would be a good idea, especially when these sites are critical components to our sales and marketing functions?
This step should be added to the site design process and given ample time and energy. The fruits will pay out dividends in the end.
Many tools can simplify the usability testing process and keep costs at bay. Five of these tools — Userfly, UserTesting.com, Crazy Egg, OpenHallway, and Silverback — have their pros and cons, but they will help you with this important process.
Twenty-four top Web usability testing tools are covered here. Learn all you can about these tools, pick the ones you like, and start the process of testing for usability.
Web Accessibility and SEO
According to the Web Accessibility Initiative, “Web Accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web.” The practice of making one’s site Web accessible is growing in popularity. The tactics you use to make your site Web accessible are similar to SEO best practices and an overall better user experience.
There are also other benefits. Search crawlers can easily access sites that have been enhanced with site accessibility. For instance, adding descriptive alt text to important images is an SEO best practice. It is also what blind people hear in place of an image.
Updating your site to be Web accessible is a growing practice. You can greatly benefit by integrating this into your development process.
Hopefully, you’ve gained a new appreciation of usability and its importance to creating a great user experience. While doing so, you’re also optimizing your site. The world could use more sites developed with the user in mind.