Everyone loves WordPress due to its incredibly easy set up. But lots of times, people who are setting up their WordPress sites want to change the look of the homepage to create something more aesthetically pleasing. But whether you are new to web design or just trying to make something more visually appealing, you could be making a big mistake when it comes to usability.

Usability is one of the hot tech terms you’ve probably heard recently. There are entire agencies and firms dedicated to studying usability and creating the most easy-to-use website and tech products. To back up, the basic definition of usability boils down to how easy it is for a user to interact with your website.

Scared you may have made your WordPress site’s usability worse by trying to make it look better? As follows, we’ve created a quick check-list full of practical tips to boost usability on your WordPress site and ensure your users have a solid experience surfing your site.

Spend some time perfecting your navigation menu
The navigation menu (or, navigation bar – aka “nav bar”) at the top of your web page helps direct your visitors to the desired content. This means you need to really create a logical plan for presenting your content as if it were a roadmap guiding users to the most important pages. Sure, you may create drop downs for sub menu items, but do you really need them? Question whether small bouts of copy are better used as additional paragraphs on an existing page rather than their own separate page. Here’s another way to think of it: sub menu items should only get placement on the nav bar if they align perfectly with one of the main menu items.

If you are a small business owner, don’t worry if your site has only the four basic tabs: “Home,” “About,” “Products” / “Services,” and “Contact.” Depending on the nature of your business, you may think to add an “FAQ” section as well. When in doubt, these are certainly the most user-friendly navigation items so that site visitors are able to find important information right away.

If you’re questioning whether or not to include other types of supplemental content such as case studies, you can either connect them as a link on the about page (vs. a sub-section), or you can just reference them in your contact section. For instance, “Contact us today for more info or to see case studies.”

Another common way to look at navigation is to compare it to how users interact with your service or product. If you are in a time sensitive industry (maybe plumbing or towing), think about displaying your contact information and services prominently to reduce the amount of the time visitors have to look for this information. Oppositely, if you are in a high-end or high-cost business (such as a luxury automobile dealer or an architect), you’ll want to make sure galleries of your product or past work is the more forward-facing navigation item.

Plan the content
WordPress website usability boils down to creating content that is easy for the user to digest. That said, check to be sure that your copywriting strategy contains paragraphs that have less than five sentences each. Wherever you can, keep your content extra concise by using bullet points instead of long paragraphs. This would be effective in describing your services or listing your past clients.  You also want to make sure everything is displaying in a consistent manner. Think: the same size, style, and fonts throughout. Remember: most people are looking for something specific on your site, not to read every single word. And if they can’t find what they are looking for easily, they will be sure to utilize your contact form (just make sure it’s inviting and easy to do!).

If planning feels difficult, there’s something called a “wireframe” – which is a basic sketch of what a webpage will look like. Think of it as drawing a large rectangle to represent your bedroom, then mapping out where your bed, nightstands, dressers, etc. will go. This provides you with an easy visual to execute the plan for your WordPress site.

Define a call-to-action
What do you want your visitor to do when they get to your site? Whether it’s to sign up for your newsletter, contact you for more info, or purchase your product, the answer to the question is known as your call-to-action and it should prominent on your WordPress website.

Half the battle is creating an easy-to-see call-to-action. This could be a large, colorful button. The other part of the equation is to make sure the actual direction is clear. Don’t just make it say “Click here”… make it say “Click here to buy.”

Permalink? What’s a permalink?
Now this one is a bit technical, but also very important when it comes to making sure your content is easy for users to find.

A “permalink” is a default URL that WordPress creates for each page or post that corresponds to the database ID number. Unfortunately, this URL doesn’t show up in search results very easily – if ever. Never fear. The back end of WordPress makes it simple to edit your permalink settings.

Follow this navigating to change your permalink: Settings > Permalinks > Post Name. Now, the URL of each page will actually be the title of the page you created. It makes it much easier for people to find and view your content.

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3
Spending a long time working on your WordPress website on the back end just means that you need to take time on the other side of the site to get feedback. For this, recruit your friends, family, and co-workers and conduct mini usability tests. Watch and see how they interact with your site and do not assist them. You want to see if accomplishing specific tasks on your website comes intuitively or not to them. If you routinely see someone struggling to figure out where the contact form is, well then that is key insight to refine your site.

This is just a basic round-up of how to improve your WordPress website’s usability. Have you tried other ways or services to ensure prime usability?

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