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10 Essential Usability Articles for Business Owners

Learn the essentials of usability so you can have better discussions and make better decisions when planning your website.

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April 12, 2013

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Usability is one of the most important things to keep in mind when planning a website. Usability is how easy it is for your visitors to use your site. This includes navigation, buttons, labeling, messaging, order of operation, and site architecture. A good design team will understand the goals of your users (and your business) and design with these in mind, but it helps if you have some familiarity with key concepts.

This reading list is designed to quickly get you up to speed on the basics of usability and navigation, so you can ask the right questions and make smart decisions about your site. The emphasis is on what NOT to do but there are also some ideas for better planning and optimization.

  1. Smashing Magazine – Website Navigation – Planning And Implementing
    • Read it because: A great starting point for understanding the role(s) of site navigation and what to consider in terms of organization (user intent, key content, logic). Also includes breakdowns of websites.
  2. NNGroup – Scrolling and Attention
    • Read it because: This article will give you pointers for keeping people on the page when you have a lot to say.
  3. UX Myths – Myth #2: All pages should be accessible in 3 clicks
    • Read it because: The 3-click rule remains gospel to some people and it can lead you to make sub-par decisions in your navigation. Read this to get some perspective on what really matters to visitors navigating your site.
  4. NNGroup – Corporate Blogs: Front Page Structure
    • Read it because: You probably have a company blog or have been thinking about starting one. Getting the front page right will increase your chances of engaging your visitor and seeing value from your blogging.
  5. Marketing Experiments – Even Marketing Experts Can Be Wrong
    • Read it because: Because your audience is unique and no one can no for sure how they will react. Don’t let best practice box you in.
  6. Smashing Magazine – Planning And Implementing Website Navigation
    • Read it because: Bad navigation will ruin everything. That’s not an exaggeration. Don’t ruin great content with poor navigation choices.
  7. Six Revisions – User Testing for Web Accessibility
    • Read it because: Accessibility issues can effect anyone  not just the “officially” disabled. Most people don’t have sniper vision and finding the cursor can be a pain for anyone. Basically, working on accessibility will make your site better for anyone over the age of 25. Your mother will thank you.
  8. W3Schools – CSS Tutorial
    • Use it because: At some point you’ll want to change font sizes, increase line height, or change the color of a link. Basic CSS will let you do this without blowing up your layout.
  9. I Love Typography – A Guide to Web Typography
    • Read it because: It will keep you from driving visitors away from your great content with ugly fonts, tiny letters or headache-inducing contrast.
  10. Unbounce – 101 Landing Page Optimization Tips
    • Skim it because: There is a lot of good stuff in there, but it won’t all be relevant to your site. Fortunately, they give us a table of contents: Chapters 1, 4 & 10 are ones everyone should read.

Note: We replaced a couple of articles on 8/29/21 that were no longer available (404 errors). Linkrot is a real problem on the internet, but we’ll try to keep this and other content usable.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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