Cameron FrancisAugust 29,2013

Design Mistakes That Reduce Your Site’s Usability

Usability has been defined as the extent in which a particular product can be utilised by a user to achieve specific goals with efficiency, satisfaction, and effectiveness in a particular usage context.

The implication of good usability is that users will be able to easily make use of a product and achieve their goals without becoming frustrated. To construct websites with good usability one most be focused upon website usability in the design process.

We will present you with several common design mistakes that will adversely affect the usability of a site and thus have a negative impact on the user’s experience.

Site Look And Feel That Is Impersonal

Site content must be presented and structured in a logical and clear manner. At times you may have to adhere to the style guides of a company that will already define some of this for you.However, you still need to be aware that the look and feel of a site is a crucial component of the site’s usability. When someone visits a site, they will normally be seeking something from the site. For instance, visitors may be seeking general or specific information or they may be seeking entertainment or to correspond with others.

Regardless of the reason someone is visiting a site, their initial impression is critical. It has an impact upon their trust and appreciation for a site.

This is of importance for the usability of the site. A site that visitors don’t trust will end up being useless. It may feature the information the visitor is seeking, but they will still go elsewhere, since they do not have trust in the source. A site with a design that is outdated and that appears impersonal will come across as boring and not trustworthy. You can make your site appear more credible by infusing your design with personality.

Clear and Concise Contact Mechanism

You need to ensure that you have availability for site visitors to contact you. New web technologies provide a means for increasing engagement and interactivity and that is what many people desire when the visit a site. They have a desire to have interaction with your website. They want to be able to meet the people who power your business, even if this meeting is limited to some type of mediated communication.

A company blog, contact page, and various social media platforms are good places to begin. You can engage with your customers in this manner. Having availability as a business is a key aspect of providing good usability. You may have the product or service that a visitor needs, but if visitors cannot easily find your contact details or any proof that you actually exist and are trustworthy, the visitor will not be inclined to purchase your products or services.

Content That Is Difficult To Read

An important aspect of a design that directly affects a site’s usability is its content readability. If you have a lot of text on your site be sure your visitors are able to access this information easily. Be sure they can easily read the text and quickly scan it to obtain the main idea it conveys.

People are in a habit of rapidly scanning text on the internet. You need to cater to this online reading method and be sure your text is structured accordingly. If visitors come to your site and have difficulty reading your text, your site will lose a lot of its impact and value.

For instance, short paragraphs, relevant sub-headings, images that have descriptive captions, and embedded videos will increase readability. Here are some more tips to make your content more readable:

  • Be sure you select colours that enhance and do not diminish readability. It is important to have high contrasts
  • Sans serif fonts should be used in body text
  • Do not alter font size too much. Three sizes are normally sufficient for main headers, sub-headers and body text
  • Adjust the height of your lines. Standard settings are not usually best for readability
  • Use features such as italics, underline, and bold sparingly
  • Examine the alignment of your text. Left-aligned text is generally easier to read


A basic aspect of good usability is consistency. After learning how a concept functions, it is applied to additional situations. This helps to make us increasingly efficient when using various website interfaces. Consistent navigation, links that bring us to different pages in the same site, and a logo that will bring us to the site’s homepage are standard design elements. If these actions do not work as expected, it can cause frustration and confusion for a user, reducing the usability of a site. You should try to meet the expectations of your users and satisfy their pre-existing mental models.

Inappropriate Use of Whitespace

Even though whitespace contains no information, it is not useless. Whitespace can be a powerful design element that can make your design more soothing and guide the attention of your visitors.

If your design is packed so tightly that almost every pixel is filled with content, links, and visuals, there is a high probability that you are overwhelming your visitors. This can result in user confusion and make it difficult for them to decide where to focus.

Whitespace assists you in maintaining a clean website design. By using it, you are able to highlight selected elements and assist your users to navigate your site and digest your content. A website that is exceedingly busy can become useless.

Author: Cameron Francis Cameron Francis is the Director of eTraffic Group. He has been engaged in all aspects of online marketing for the past 8 years. He is actively involved in SEO, Paid Search, Social Media Optimisation, and Web Design.

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