As you begin examining your website to see if it is usable to your visitors, there are many aspects you will want to research. Not only do you want it simple yet informative, you want your visitors to recognize, among other things, that they are important to you. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after much research and combined years of experience have released the following website accessibility guidelines to enhance a website’s usability.

    Website Usability Design Guidelines

    1. Provide content that is engaging, relevant and appropriate to the audience; this is the most critical aspect of the web page.
    2. Use all available resources to better understand the user’s requirements.
    3. Make sure the website’s format meets user expectations. It should
      be easy to use, have helpful content and be well organized. This will
      also encourage others to want to use your site. Also keep in mind the
      guidelines for Section 508 standards for being friendly for those that are visually impaired.
    4. Focus first on the users; get them involved to better meet their
      requirements. Some websites are better at this than others. Remember,
      just because your company personnel does not have trouble using your site
      doesn’t mean that your customers will experience the same thing.
    5. State and set goals; recognize and determine the goals of the site
      before beginning the design process; be clear and concrete. As King
      Solomon said in Proverbs, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
    6. Consider the numerous interface issues during the design process. These issues include:
      1. Context within which users will be visiting
      2. Experience levels of the users
      3. Types of task users will be doing
      4. Types of computer and connection speeds
      5. Evaluation of prototypes
      6. Results of usability test
    7. Implement good SEO practices so that
      your site will be listed in the top 30. Studies show that users do not
      look at web pages that are not in the Search Engine’s top 30 results.

    If, upon reading these guidelines, you realize that your website needs
    work, don’t despair.  According to a recent Public Accounts Committee
    report, one-third of government sites did not comply with its own
    accessibility guidelines. Of course, this doesn’t make having a website
    that is difficult to use acceptable, but it does show that even with the
    best of intentions, there are many websites that need more work. If you
    recognize that your own website needs an overhaul, keep these tips (and
    those in the upcoming posts) in mind as you consider how best to revamp
    or contact Page Progressive and allow us to improve your website’s usability!