Home Page Usability Tactics

In preparing for updates to many websites I’ve been reading “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It’s a book on “A common sense approach to web usability.” The purpose of the book is to get out of the mode of thinking about what a website owner wants for a website; and to get into thinking about what USERS want from a website. The main elements of this are making key elements insanely easy for new users to access (hence “don’t make me think) and to employ usability testing.

Usability testing can be as simple as videotaping three people using your website for the first time. Have them do set tasks and let you know about their experience. The videotape is helpful for review to see what areas are unclear to new users. Interesting that this reminds me of Stephen Sondheim’s advice for writing musicals: Sondheim says he’s not concerned with whether an audience LIKES his scenes, he’s just concerned that the scenes are clear in their intention. Rewrites are done to improve clarity of intention. And so the same concept applies to web usability.

Steve Krug says there are four questins a website home page needs to answer:

  1. What is this?
  2. What can I do here?
  3. What do they have here?
  4. Why should I be here – and not somewhere else?

In regards to my personal website you’re reading here; I find that none of those questions are fulfilled. Most of my readers come in off search engines to specific posts that answer questions or has content for the niche they were searching for. So when they come in to a specific post it works well.

But what about users that come in fresh to the front of my personal website? I imagine they have no clue. Especially since my personal site roams freely between music, religion, software code and a myriad of other random subjects.

Steve Krug’s small book was very expensive to me, retail price $40USD but I actually paid over $50 in Hong Kong for the book. Well worth the money just for the four points listed above.

And for restructuring my ecommerce and community websites? Well, it seems I have a lot of work ahead of me…

One thought on “Home Page Usability Tactics

  1. That is why having a clear tag line or/and introduction message is so important. They can answer all of those questions in seconds, which happens to be the amount of time you have to capture the visitor.

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