Usability Trends for 2015

It is not enough to have a beautiful web design with a high impact image on the home page like so many of the 2015 web design trends I have seen lately.  You have to make website usable, easy-to-use, obvious, accessible, and intuitive.  The best website user experiences (UX) will be those that are so easy to use, navigate, and operate that you don’t think about it … you just do it.  I have compiled a list of usability best practices that will go a long way towards making websites more pleasurable and effective user experiences:

Usability Checklist (Best Practices)

  • Don’t make web visitors read your mind
    • If you expect a date to be entered in a certain format, show them the format you expect before they enter the data
    • If a field is required, give a visual indicator (* required) that it is required
    • Give people relevant and appropriate instructions and helpful hints
    • Give people an indicator if the system is working and not necessarily stuck or waiting on you
  • Reward good behavior
    • If people enter data correctly, give them a check or a smiley face
    • If people do not enter data correctly, help them, don’t reprimand them or give them a warning or error!
    • Give people a status update, like a progress  bar
  • Eliminate the chance of human error
    • Give people a calendar or date picker instead of asking them to give you a date in free form
    • If you have discrete options then give people a pull-down pick list or radio buttons or check boxes
    • Make your CAPTCHA (Are you human?) easier to read and see
  • Be consistent
    • Don’t make people have to learn each new page or section of the site
    • Data entry forms on one page should have similar behavior to other data entry forms
    • Don’t move buttons around from page to page
  • Follow the proximity principle
    • Like things (similar things) should be grouped together
    • Relevant things should be offered to your web visitor
  • Be real
    • Buttons should look like buttons – if it looks like a button, it should be pushable
    • Links should look like links – if it looks like a link, it should be clickable
    • Headings should look like headings – a heading should not necessarily be clickable
  • Be organized
    • Thing should be where they are supposed to be
    • Have a place for every thing and put everything in its proper place

In its simplest terms, your website and application should be so simple and so easy that even a child, who doesn’t know how to read, and navigate it.