What is meant by user experience?
Did you know that user experience is the most important consideration when Google ranks your website? A user experience is the impression that your website makes on your average user. Key considerations are if your website is intuitive, easy to navigate, written in plain language and just makes good old common sense.
We build navigation and information architecture that is task centered and user centered. We zero in on the top seven to ten user tasks pertinent to your business and integrate them into the web structure. We help you determine these tasks based on a heuristic analysis, environmental research and user testing. It’s so easy to get stuck in the organizational structure mindset and forget about your users. We help you change your focus and put your users first.
We also conduct accessibility audits and provide you with technical advice on how to make your website accessible to persons with disabilities (WCAG 2.0 AA, Section 508, and other relevant standards). For all of our projects, we follow the usability principles developed by Jakob Nielsen. We can help you with online usability testing, including Treejack and other mind-mapping tools, and we can provide usability recommendations.
Why usability matters
It’s all about user experience. We often hear advice like “Usability is creating a great user experience,” but if it were simple, we wouldn’t see so many people get it wrong. So, we did some digging.
Jakob Nielsen, usability expert at the Nielsen Normal Group, says that ease of use and functionality are paramount. If you visit Nielsen’s website, you can see that he practices what he preaches. Of course, you won’t have the time of your life visiting Nielsen’s website, which is the other dimension of usability—user experience.
Vishal Mehta says that it’s only natural for people to be more attracted to the appearance of a car over the functionality of its parts. And though the same applies to websites, “not many achieve the balance of their site/app being desirable, at the same time high on usability: useful, usable, etc.”
The key here is finding a balance between good, attractive design and functionality. Are we implying that Nielsen’s design is bad or that he should open his page with a flash presentation? Nope, not at all. Nielsen, when he designed his site, was thinking about his users and what they were looking for. His design delivers on that, which leads us to our next topic.
Why accessibility matters
What the heck is WCAG 2.0? This is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version 2.0, and it’s a list of recommendations for making content more accessible to those with disabilities, like hearing loss, poor vision, learning disabilities, limited movement, photosensitivity or a combination of these. Here are just a few examples of WCAG 2.0 recommendations:
- Non-text content, like videos and CAPTCHAs, should have text components so those who are vision impaired can still use these features.
- Provide text for prerecorded audio to accommodate hearing-impaired users.
- Make sure your website’s functions can all be available from a keyboard.
- Stay away from designs that have been shown to cause seizures.
- Make your website friendly so users can easily recognize and correct mistakes.
What the heck is Section 508? For a private website—Section 508 doesn’t apply. Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires government agencies to make their information accessible to those with disabilities. It’s meant to encourage the government to develop technologies that would achieve these egalitarian standards.
What does it mean for you, your website and your business? Well, for most of you, Section 508 doesn’t apply, but it’s always a good idea to consider all of your potential customers when designing your website. Although WCAG 2.0 is a set of recommendations (not rigid, enforceable standards), it’s still considered good practice to be as inclusive as possible.
It is just good business!