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Usability Tips For Websites

Web page usability tips to help your  users to get the most out of your site. These tips will help small business owners maximize their ROI.

Usability Tip: Social Media Sharing Thumbnail Images

It’s well-known that a picture will make your page stand out when shared on social media networks. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ will scan your page for images to display a thumbnail with the link. Twitter will also do this if you’re approved for Twitter Cards. Each network follows the Open Graph Protocol. Except for Twitter, they will scan your page and try to figure things out if those tags are not used. Each network has different rules for what size images work best.

Web Usability Tips: Sharing Image.

This image will is proportional to the 180×110 necessary for LinkedIn. It has an aspect ratio less than 3 and will share well on Google+ and Facebook.

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all cache requests for one week. Google+ honors cache-control directives just like a web browser would. Facebook’s Debugger (formerly called Lint) allows you to clear their cache. The Twitter Card Validator (usually) clears the Twitter cache.

LinkedIn does not offer a cache clearing mechanism at this time. The only way around this is to append a query string to the URL for the page (e.g. “?try=first”). Because of this I would recommend all of your images try to keep in line with LinkedIn’s 180×110 ratio. I’m hopeful that this will change in the future. They are the go-to place for listing your employment skills and experience. If they can’t find quality developers, who can?

Usability Tip: Avoid Opening New Windows

I know I’m going to get some internal flack for saying this — it is the top most web design debates — but simply don’t open external links in new windows. Top user interface and usability researchers agree that you should place users in control. A PhD thesis has been successfully defended showing that users naturally have trouble returning to items that they have visited before.  Government reports show that a disabled back button can result in confusion and frustration for users.

The user interface experts have one exception to this rule. This exception is for PDF and other non-web documents because users forget they’re in a web browser and accidentally close the browser window. That is why the government report I linked to earlier opened in a new window.

Usability Tip: Bold and Bulleted Content

Did you find yourself drawn to the four bulleted items in the first tip? How about the headlines and the line about LinkedIn caching earlier? You’re not alone. A ClickTale study found that bold words and bulleted content draw attention. Even more so than the content above the fold! These points are so strong that they found that it caused users to re-engaged with the content after attention waned.

Do you have any usability tips you would like to share? Any thoughts on the tips covered in this article? Let us know your thoughts.

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About

Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.

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