Site Usability and Accessibility, moderated by Anne Kennedy

Site Usability and Accessibility is next, moderated by Anne Kennedy from Beyond Ink. And Shari Thurow is the speaker from Omni Marketing.

She begins by asking where we would be without the search engines. The answer is we would be a bit screwed, frankly.

What is website usability? It’s not quite what people think it is. It’s not about personal opinion, not even your SEO people’s opinion. It’s only about your users.

Find out why people do what they do on your site and how. Can they achieve their desired goals, how easily and how quickly? How easily can people who’ve never been there before use the site?

Even if they love your video, if they don’t find what they want they’ll still report low satisfaction.

The scent of information consists of a set of textual and graphical cues that allow people to know where they are, where they can go and is it what they want. Get good and smelly, folks!

Make sure people know what the stuff on the page is for. Tell them how they can get what they need.

What about when Wikipedia comes at the top all the time – people are pleased. They know where they are and they are happy to click it because they are sure it’s going to give them what they want.

There are three types of searches: navigational, informational, and transactional.

People are poor at evaluating their own behaviour – for example a search for ‘united’ can be people looking for the Manchester United score or to check their United Airlines frequent flyer points. Same search.

Some keywords are not often used. When people want to listen to a podcast they don’t search ‘listen to a podcast’. Similarly they may not use the word ‘buy’ when they want to buy something.

A plural search term often indicates they are looking for a list. Sometimes a high bounce rate is a good thing if people were looking for a quick piece of information. The quicker the bounce, the happier the customer.

Be wary of Flash. It looks good, but it can distract people and search engine crawlers from their tasks. Motion can attract or distract. And distraction from goals is a bad use of your time and website. Test first before filling a site with Flash or videos.

She says sites should be designed for humans, not just the search engines. Understanding how and why people search is important as well as just how the search engines work.

Testing is fundamental. Make sure that a high page visit rate per visitor is a good thing and not just a lack of the scent of information forcing people to stay there too long looking for what they need.

One good test is to show people the page for five seconds and then seeing what they remember about it. If it’s not your keywords, then you have failed.

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