Usability and readability are believed to be issues that only web designers and developers have to worry about. This isn’t the case, however.
If you’re an affiliate of any product, and you’re running your business on a website of any kind – no matter WordPress or not – then you absolutely need to learn a thing or two about the principles of usability.
Just to name a few benefits:
- Usability can improve the conversion rates your site produces.
- Usability can improve the attractiveness of your content presentation.
- Usability can improve the quality of your design.
- Usability can improve the flow of your content.
- Finally, usability can improve the readability of your content.
Of course, usability isn’t any magic potion. Taking care of usability means doing some work. First to learn the principles of usability, and then to implement them in your site.
So let’s start with a quick definition.
What Usability Is
As Wikipedia teaches us, usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. In our case, the object is your website or blog.
In essence, the approach to maximize usability is all about making a website as user-friendly as possible. However, this isn’t as easy as it may – at first – seem.
The whole topic of usability touches upon some aspects of psychology and human behavior when dealing with websites. For instance, you can’t really know what’s usable and what isn’t until you test your website with a representative group of users, to see how they are using it.
But this is the most comprehensive approach possible. One for which you have to have a budget and a devoted team of people willing to help you with this kind of usability research, and then with improving your site according to the results.
Thankfully, there is a simpler approach – some general usability rules that every website owner can follow to improve their sites.
Where to Start With Usability
The initial step should always be to define requirements and set goals. Both for the website and yourself as an affiliate business owner.
Every website should have one primary goal. It can be anything, but for most affiliate sites it’s simply to sell a given product. It can also be things like: getting an email subscription, convincing someone to click your affiliate link, or to fill out a contact form. No matter what it is you have to define it exactly.
This goal will be the central point of your whole work on improving usability. Usability is about making things easier for your visitors, but only the things that you want them to do … so in the end, you get to see a bigger paycheck.
Rules of Usability
The most important rule is called “KISS” – keep it simple stupid.
The more cluttered your site gets the less usable it is, and what usually follows – the less conversions it generates.
Keeping things simple can be harder than you think. First of all, you have to remove all elements that are not truly essential to your message. Maybe this is a good moment to get rid of those social media share buttons? Or maybe this menu in the header is not doing you any good? Quite simply, take a long look at your site and get rid of everything that is not essential to achieving your main goal.
Use only simple messages and calls to action. If you want someone to click a link use the words “click here,” and if you want someone to fill out an opt-in form then say something like “input your name and email.” This short sentence is more than enough to get your message across.
Don’t use low-quality pictures or images. The images you use on your site are a direct indication of your professionalism. If you decide to publish something that has no business being on your site people will notice this and subconsciously don’t take you that seriously.
Place the most important information as high on the page as possible. There’s the concept of the “fold” in traditional publishing. The most important news in a newspaper are always placed above the fold (the place where the newspaper folds). For online publishing, above the fold means everything that’s visible without scrolling down to the bottom of the page. Usability teaches us to always put the most important information above the fold.
Use a clear layout on your website. It simply cannot be a mess. If you’re using a two-column layout then stick to it and don’t change things too much on every page. Visitors tend to leave if they get confused and don’t know what’s going on any more.
Place your conversion pages only one click away from the landing page. Here’s the idea: If you want a visitor to perform a certain action on your landing page then you want to make this action as simple as possible – preferably requiring only one click.
For example, if you want someone to click through to an order page of some kind then you should link to this page directly. Creating an additional step (like an additional opt-in form) will lower your conversions.
Make your links as visible as possible. This is about your site’s styling. There are too many sites with links that are not different in any way from the rest of the content. If you want people to click on your links you need to make them visible. The easiest way is to use a completely different color and an underlined font.
Valid HTML and Quality Code
Usability is also about making your website accessible for everyone no matter what device or browser they’re using. If your site runs on WordPress then depending on the quality of your theme your site can look differently on different computers and screen resolutions.
If you’re not a developer yourself then you’ll find it hard to work with the source code of your current theme. The best way of taking care of this is to get a quality theme that has a whole team of professional developers behind it and a devoted community of users.
Premium themes are called premium for many more reasons than just the fact that you have to spend money to get them. It’s all about code quality, design quality, professional support, huge number of features, and focus on usability and making the theme as easy to use as possible.
If you want to get something that’s tested and has great reviews around the internet then consider DIYthemes and their flagship product – Thesis Theme.
Usability is a very wide topic, there are many principles, techniques, methods of testing usability and guidelines on how to implement the most crucial changes. We hope that this short set of tips will get you going and improve your site’s usability just a bit.
What’s your approach at usability? Have you tried to implement any usability principles in your affiliate blogs before?