Usability Best Practices

Website usability refers to how web visitors experience the site. Following best practices ensures that people will have an easier time finding information.

Search engines like Google and Bing use algorithms to determine search ranking. The best way to get a high search result is to follow these steps:

  • Clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.

  • Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map has an extremely large number of links, you may want to break the site map into multiple pages.

  • Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.

  • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.

  • Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.

  • Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn't recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the "ALT" attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.

  • Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.

  • Check for broken links and correct HTML. If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a "?" character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.

  • Check your work using a validator such as the W3C Markup Validation Service. Style sheets can be validated using the W3C CSS Validation Service.