In a day when technology is constantly changing and improving, building a unique website has become more than choosing a WordPress template and plopping in your content. After all, there’s Flash, Javascript, a rainbow of color choices, gradients, boxes, bars, animated GIFs, widgets, gadgets, thingamajigs and many other programming and design elements to choose from, right? But does a website really need all of these "latest and greatest" web elements in order to be effective and usable? Many website developers and interface design experts agree the answer is a resounding "No." In fact, the wealth of possible website effects and features has lead to the detriment of many a website, when it comes to being user-friendly. And shouldn’t that be one of, if not the goal in any design?

GoalsSet Limits, Guided by Goals

One paramount way to increase website usability is in setting goals and limits. All websites should be built with a few goals in mind. Those goals may be actions that you want to encourage your users to perform on your site, like sign up for your mailing list or it could be to sell as many of a particular hot product as possible. If you don’t have any goals, your website will lack structure and purpose and more than likely not give you the best results. There are several ways you
can actually improve you website by setting limits:

Limit the Color

Just because there’s a color wheel to choose from doesn’t mean every
shade of green has to be used. Bill at GoMediaZine states, "Reducing the
number of colors we use in our design will make the piece feel
consistent. Keep the color palette small but vibrant." (Examples: Nike,
sports teams, chain restaurants)

Limiting Typography

Like colors, keeping a consistent font is easier for the eye to
follow. A fancy font may work well for headings, but body text should be a
standard font that is easily read – even at small sizes. However, do keep
in mind that the over-use of a single font within a single design can
also be confusing and difficult to read. Often a layout can combine the use of 2 fonts to emphasize the different between a heading and the body text.

Limiting Size

Website usability also means keeping the size of a magazine spread in
mind when designing your site. In fact, according
to web entrepreneur, Luke Wroblewski, websites and web applications
should be designed for mobile devices first, rather than the more common
order of designing first for the desktop. He supports this argument
citing that mobile use is growing rapidly. Designing for mobile devices
forces you to focus. Of course, page size is one of the many factors that has no hard set rule. In the planning stage, this should be one of the factors considered. For example, will your site be accessed more by people who have older computers with smaller screens? Will a mobile version of your site be necessary? Will people on iPads or other tablet devices make up a large number of your visitors?

Minimize, not Maximize

Rather than using a little bit of every cool idea you’ve ever seen on a website,
you should use a few things really well. Products like the iPod or iPad
are remarkable not for all the options they have, but rather for what
they don’t have. Instead of having a dozen buttons like many other devices, these products have 4
buttons, making them easy to use and some of the most popular portable devices of all time.

Simply put, much of the
features that improve website usability can be filed under the old
acronym K.I.S.S. Keeping it simple can go a long way to making visitors feel comfortable and eager to spend time there. And, that is
the point, isn’t it?