How to Make a Better Website

by | Jun 4, 2013

The AV team stuffed our brains with awesome usability tips and strategies at The Rosenfeld Summit this week. Six of the best minds online talked about how to make your website better.

What’s usability?
Usability is about making the web easier for people to use.
– Making it easier to buy from an ecommerce site.
– Making it easier to check restaurant menu & hours.
– Making it easier to get directions to an event.

Sounds simple enough.
Yet it’s so hard to put into practice. Fortunately, we ascended the mountain to gather wisdom from the sages. We’d like to share this great knowledge with you. Together we can make the web safer place for humans.


Steve Krug

This man is a genius

“Usability is more about people than technology. And people don’t change very fast.”

“The biggest challenge is responsive design. We’re back in the wild and woolly days of the early interwebs, trying to cope with the fact that people have different screen sizes, and different browsers interpreting things differently.”

Tip 1) Never underestimate how little people actually know
“We like to think that people, on average, are reasonably smart. It’s comforting.”

“In reality, people don’t know as much as you’d expect them to. They think they know how to use things, when in fact they don’t.

“Users are used to muddling through; which basically means going in and trying something. If it works, they keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, they try something else.

“People usually breeze through the stuff much faster than you’d expect –much faster than makes sense. People miss things right and left in usability tests.”

Tip 2) Always start by testing other people’s stuff
“User test competitor websites. Find people who are using the same technology you plan to use, or trying to solve the same problem you’re trying to solve.

“Without putting pencil to paper, you can learn a lot about how people use the kind of thing you want to build.

“It’s not terribly important to recruit the perfect demographic. Do not let the difficulty of recruiting people from your target demographic keep you from testing.

“Testing 1 user early in the process is better than testing 50 late in the process. And you need to test with people who really don’t know much about your project. You can’t use insiders.

“Finding the problems isn’t the problem. It’s fixing them; that’s the problem. If you test just one morning a month, they you’ll turn up more usability problems than you can shake a stick at.

“Focus ruthlessly on fixing the worst usability problems first. For every serious problem, there exists some tweak that would mitigate the problem with minimum effort.”

Tip 3) Clarity trumps everything
“Minimize cognitive burden on users. Don’t force people to think.”

“Clarity trumps simplicity, consistency, and just about everything else. Clarity is different from simplicity. Simplicity means removing extraneous stuff. Things that are clear don’t have to be simple.

“If the thing is clear, it’s clear to people who have Ph.D’s and people with 4th-grade educations. People at each end of that spectrum appreciate clarity.”

A final Krug pearl of wisdom:
“Writing is thinking for people so they don’t have to.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed not having to think through this post. 🙂

Want to improve your website?

Need help making your website easier for users, and more profitable for your business?
It’s simple. Contact us, or give us a call 918.518.6576. It’s what we do.