Photo Credit: Sybren A. Stüvel
Have you ever been looking for something on a website and had trouble finding it? Or maybe you have had issues filling out what should be a simple form? I experienced both the other day while trying to place my engagement announcement in a couple of newspapers online. The first newspaper website was easy as pie; I just filled out a form and submitted. The second one however was a different story… First off, I could not find the celebration announcements for the life of me. Eventually I did find a link to submit an announcement, but when I went to it, the site had an error and I was unable to continue… A few grumbles later, I finally found an email address and sent the announcement through, fingers crossed that it would be the right place and actually make it to the paper.
Don’t Waste Time
One of the worst things you can do on your website is waste someone’s time. The only reason I was persistent with the second newspaper website was because I needed to get my announcement published. Otherwise I would have quit 10 minutes earlier and they would not have had my business. I am always surprised when such basic functionality is so difficult, but I see it all the time. Technical errors and usability issues are two of the biggest issues that sites have in maintaining visitors.
Why Won’t This Work?
If you have broken site functionality, then visitors will get frustrated fast and leave to find what they are looking for elsewhere. Periodically test all functionality so you know that everything works as it should. Just because your site worked fine when it went live doesn’t mean it is set forever. When there is an update to your website, take a moment to go through your forms and make sure everything is still running smoothly. You want to catch any problems before obstructed clients take their business elsewhere.
How Do I Get There Anyways?
On the other end, everything may be running fine, but visitors find it impossible to locate something on your site. Even if your site was originally well laid out, content additions over time can build up and get out of control. All it takes to prevent this problem is to have someone review your site every so often and test it as a visitor. This will show you if content is easy to access and the site is simple to navigate. Another idea is to review your site’s analytics to see what pages are popular and where they are leaving. If you are finding some usability issues, then take a step back and figure out how to arrange your content so that it is more accessible.
Reviewing your website may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised at how many people make updates to a website through a CMS and never check from a visitor’s point of view to make sure everything works properly. I have seen broken links and pages that will not load from mistakes that are simple to fix. I have also seen sites that have so many pages added on, it is impossible to navigate through it. You want your visitors to have an experience that is helpful and beneficial. So keep an eye on your site, because you never know when an error or usability issue might arise that will frustrate visitors to no end!