There are multiple factors that you need to consider when developing your WordPress website. Everything needs to be visually pleasing so that people want to be there and browse through it. Also, it needs to accommodate your content, and most importantly, it needs to be usable and help visitors achieve their goals.
This is where usability steps in, as one of the paramount aspects of web development! Everything on your website must be user-friendly, you need to test each aspect to ensure the ease-of-use of your pages. With usability testing, you can get insights for your website that will help you deliver the right UX for your target customers.
In this article, we hope to present you with the ultimate usability testing checklist for your WordPress site.
What Is Usability?
Usability is quite simply the ease with which a user can navigate your site. It amplifies the positive experience of your website. On the contrary, non-usable websites confuse the users and bring nothing but lost conversions and revenue as a result.
Refining the usability of your site is a great way to scale your site to handle more visitors, and develop a competitive edge over your rivals.
What Is Usability Testing?
Usability testing is the process of assessing your website’s user experience. Checking the usability of your site helps you can gauge how intuitive everything is. The advantages of conducting usability testing for your WordPress website include:
- Objective UX Inspection: An unbiased analysis of your website UX.
- Convenience: To perform usability tests, all you need is your laptop, online tools, and a notepad.
- Predicting User Behavior: Learning more about what users do on your site and why they take a specific action.
- Resolving Issues: Addressing your website’s problems and resolve bad UX.
- Boosting ROI: Using insights to boost customer acquisition, which brings a bigger demand for your services.
Are Your Page Layouts User-Centric?
Usability means having a user-centered design. Developing a user-centric WordPress layout requires much more than design and development. You need to ask yourself if your WordPress site is usable, and most importantly, beneficial to your prospects.
Analyze Your Current Layout
Modern web users know what they’re looking for! They may not notice your layout immediately, but they will surely notice if it helps them achieve their goals. The aspects that you need to focus on when analyzing the design and layout of your WordPress website are:
- First Impressions: How do users feel when they open your website? Is your website structured so that people can easily find what they’re looking for?
- Content: Examine how your content benefits the users and how your page layout amplifies that. Is the layout relevant to your content and your target audience?
- Site Architecture: Is the navigation clear and intuitive? Is every element in your layout placed to encourage users towards conversion?
What’s Your Visual Hierarchy Like?
When it comes to improving usability, your aim should always be to guide the visitors to complete the desired action. However, it should be done in a natural manner. By modifying the position, color, or size of certain page elements, you can configure your site’s visual hierarchy to highlight the most important elements first.
Is Your Navigation on Point?
In terms of web usability, navigation should be one of your core focuses. Puzzling web navigation is one of the most irritating things that a user can encounter in the web experience. Thus, you need to analyze how the users navigate on your website when they’re looking for information.
Do You Have a Proper Sitemap?
For your website, you need a minimum number of steps from point A to point B in your conversion funnel. The more steps, the higher the chances that a visitor will leave without completing the user journey. A sitemap should help you ensure what those steps are, and where they can be combined on your WordPress site.
Without the right sitemap, you will have lots of unnecessary pages, which in turn make your website more complicated than it should be. The following practices will help you create the perfect sitemap for your WordPress website.
Create XML Sitemap With Yoast
Yoast SEO plugin is one of the best plugins that you can use to improve the SEO and functionality of your WordPress website. Apart from addressing content, keyword density, tags, and readability, this plugin can also help you create your XML sitemap.
To add an XML sitemap to your WordPress site through Yoast SEO plugin:
1. Install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin.
2. Navigate to SEO -> Features and enable the Advanced settings.
3. This enables the XML sitemap for your WordPress. In the XML sitemaps section, you can administer settings such as max entries per sitemap, excluding specific pages/posts from the sitemap, or suchlike.
4. This creates your XML sitemap using the Yoast SEO plugin. You can locate your WordPress sitemap URL under Your XML Sitemap.
Submit Your XML Sitemap to Google
Once you have your XML sitemap ready, you should you to submit it to Google. The first step to submitting your sitemap via Google search engine console is to verify yourself as the site owner.
1. Once you’re verified, open Google Search Console home page and select your website.
2. Navigate to Index and select Sitemaps.
3. Enter your WordPress sitemap URL and click Submit button.
How Do You Use Breadcrumbs?
Breadcrumbs improve the findability of your pages, and they help users reach pages faster.
If you have a large and multi-layered website, you need to ensure that the breadcrumb navigation:
- Makes Sense: Make sure the breadcrumb navigation has a linear structure. Don’t use it on a landing page where people will be confused about how they got there. Or, if you have a really small website with only a few pages, you probably don’t have to use breadcrumb navigation.
- Don’t Exaggerate: The breadcrumb navigation shouldn’t take up too much space on your pages. You don’t want your users to mistake it for the primary navigation bar.
- Include the Entire Path: Even if readers choose to open a random page, you should provide them with an easy way to explore your site by including each URL that leads to that page.
- Remain Consistent with Titles: If you’re targeting certain keywords and you don’t want to confuse the users, you need to remain consistent with the names in the breadcrumb navigation.
- Keep It Simple: Breadcrumb navigation should act as a simple help for the users, and it shouldn’t be overly complicated. Make sure that you don’t clutter your breadcrumb navigation with unnecessary text or elements.
Is the Search Function Efficient?
Users must be able to search via keywords or phrases without having to open each page of your site. Hence, you must ensure that you have a perfect search function on your pages that reduces the obstacles for users to reach the desired pages.
Some of the best practices to take into account for your internal web search functionality are:
- Place it on Top: In most cases, the search bar can be found at the top of a website page next to the navigational menu or in the blog sidebar. It must be easy to find and visible.
- Make it Noticeable: The search bar should seize the attention of your visitors while fitting perfectly into your site. It must be obvious and intuitive.
- Bold Search Query Results: When the user presses the search button, you may want to bold the search query keywords so the user can quickly recognize those words in the search results.
- Autocomplete: Make use of auto-complete to enhance the experience for your site visitors and encourage them to perform the search.
Are Buttons Prominent and Intuitive?
Buttons are an essential component of your web usability. They have a fundamental role in the interaction between a user and your website. When testing out their functionality and performance, here’s what you need to pay attention to:
- Appearance: If the users struggle to discover what’s clickable and what is not, it won’t matter how beautiful your website design is. This is why you must use appropriate visual indicators (size, shape, color, shadow, etc.) to highlight the button. Never assume that buttons are obvious for the users.
- Familiarity: When the users see a familiar button, they promptly know that it’s something they can click. Some examples of buttons that are familiar to most users: filled button with square borders, filled button with rounded corners, filled button with shadows, ghost button.
- Whitespace: The quantity of whitespace near the button can make it easier for users to realize whether an element is clickable or not.
- Location: The buttons must be located in places where users expect them. You should never make the users spend their time in searching for a button. If they can’t find it immediately, it’s like the button doesn’t exist.
- Label: An ambiguous button label can be a big setback for your users. For that reason, you must label the buttons clearly. A button’s label should explain its action straight away.
- Size: The size of the button should be an indication of the button’s importance on the screen. Therefore, you must make the most important button look like the most important one. The more distinguishable it is, the better.
Is the Main Navigation Menu Efficient?
One of the best ways to help users get around your website is the navigational main menu.
Here are a few questions to help you ensure that you have the most efficient main menu for your WordPress website:
Is it Simple?
The quickest path to an effective navigation menu is in its simplicity. However, achieving simplicity is not that easy, especially if you have a large website and you want to include each category in the menu. For a simpler navigational menu, take into account the following:
- Size: Keep only the elements that improve the usability or the overall UX.
- Structure: Test the menu structure. Can the users logically access pages through the main menu?
- Words: Words play a key role in the effectiveness of your navigational menu. If the buttons are named differently than expected, users won’t be able to understand them. Use words that people are familiar with. Don’t get too creative just for the sake of it.
- Responsiveness: For growing mobile traffic, responsive design is crucial. That includes your main menu as well. Creating a navigation menu for a smartphone screen is the point where you need to be inventive. The best solution is to use a dropdown menu that will fit each of your categories and subcategories.
Is the Logo Positioned Where It Should Be?
Based on research from Nielsen Norman Group, there are three main intents for logos on a given website:
- Reminding the visitors about the brand’s website that they browse.
- Allowing easy access to the home page through the integrated “Home” button in the logo.
- Increasing brand recognition because the logo always remains at the top of the site, and often it follows the visitors as they scroll down a page.
Left vs. Right
The NNGroup examined the response of 128 users. Each user was shown either the original website with the logo on the left or the one that NNGroup altered with the logo on the right. The results of the tests were the following:
- Left-aligned logos made people remember the brands more (39% contrary to 21% for the right-aligned variant).
- The majority of the respondents labeled the left-aligned logo as more “unique” and “stylish” than the one that is aligned on the right.
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Do You Use the Right Amount of Whitespace?
Imagine reading an old encyclopedia. You need some effort to read an entire page with that tiny text and columns that are pushed together into a dense piece of knowledge. It makes it complicated to find what you’re looking for.
The layout of this old encyclopedia book is too dense and dangerous for the eyes, hence those thick glasses. Believe it or not, there are still websites that look exactly like the book above!
In contrast, let’s look at a modern digital encyclopedia layout that has an appropriate distance between paragraphs.
It’s a huge improvement from the book, and it makes the articles welcoming and readable. That’s the power of whitespace in website design!
Whitespace emphasizes the content and its elements. That helps viewers to focus on what matters. Using whitespace should help you break up the layout and group-specific elements together on your pages. That creates an equilibrium of design and content.
One of the smartest examples of whitespace usage on the Internet that you can learn from is Medium!
The whitespace entices the reader to focus on the center column of the screen, featuring an attractive title and cover photo, along with the social proof in the form of article claps.
Is Your WordPress Site Fast?
In the pursuit of better design and functionalities, you’ll inevitably run into performance challenges. Modern websites have more features than ever before. So much so, that many of them struggle to achieve better performance across a variety of network conditions and devices.
47% of consumers expect websites to load in two seconds or less. This means that if your website performance is bad, you might lose almost half of your visitors before they even discover what you offer on your site. Even if a portion of the users decides to stay on your slow WordPress site, the poor performance will discourage them from returning. Up to 79% of customers said they would not return to a slow-loading website.
Testing the Performance of Your WordPress Website
The easiest way to test the performance of your WordPress site is by using appropriate tools. There are two powerful tools that you can use to audit your site’s performance:
Pingdom Tools is an easy to use tool that enables you to test the performance of your site with multiple test server locations:
To use this tool, just enter the URL of the page you want to test and choose a server. Each test shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. After that, you’ll get the results:
A single test might not be enough to correctly assess your website’s performance. Depending on traffic, server load, and a lot of other factors, page performances can vary. You need to run at least three tests using various servers, and gauge the average loading time from those results.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights works similarly to Pingdom Tools. Just enter the URL you want to test, and wait a few seconds for the results. It locates the aspects that need improvements, and provides you with suggestions on what to do next:
Under each suggestion, you’ll find the information about the files you need to optimize, and how you can repair them. With PageSpeed Insights, you can see how the site performs on multiple devices:
Focus on the mobile performance score. People spend more time browsing the web on their smartphones. Consequently, if your WordPress site doesn’t load quickly on mobile devices, you might be losing a big portion of your potential audience.
Speeding up Your WordPress Site
The following tips will help you gradually improve the performance of your WordPress website:
- Reduce HTTP Requests: 80% of a website’s load time is spent downloading images, stylesheets, and scripts. For each of those elements, an HTTP request is made. As a result, the more on-page components, the longer it takes for the page to be rendered. Reducing the number of requests will speed up your site.
- Minifying Files: Minifying files involves removing unnecessary formatting, whitespace, and code. Because the unnecessary piece of code increases the page size, you must eliminate extra spaces, line breaks, and indentation, which in turn, improves the page performance.
- Asynchronous Loading: If your scripts load synchronously, they load one after another, as they appear on the page. On the other hand, when your scripts load asynchronously, part of them will load simultaneously. This speeds up your pages because when a browser loads a page, it moves from top to bottom.
- Enable Compression: The smaller your files, the faster your website will be. Compressing files is one of the best ways to minimize load times. For this method, enabling compression with Gzip is regarded as the best practice.
- Enable Browser Caching: Enabling browser caching lets you store a cached version of your site in a visitor’s browser. This means that when the visitor opens your site again, it will load faster.
- Use a CDN: With a CDN, you can cache your site on a global network of servers. When a user’s browser requests files from your site, that request is directed to the closest server, and the information on your page loads much faster as a result.
Are the Forms Usable?
At first, it doesn’t appear so, but forms can be one of the most troublesome elements of a given website. There are lots of cases where visitors take too much time to fill out a form, and after they submit it, nothing happens and the information gets lost.
Even more concerning, if you don’t regularly get messages through your site, you might not even notice the problem. Speaking of which, when was the last time you checked that each of your website forms was working 100% correctly?
If it’s been too long, the following guidelines will help you out:
Examine how it Works: Make sure that the data users enter goes in the correct database fields.
Define the Required Fields: There are mandatory fields such as the ‘Email Address’. You need to label them as required fields and test the form without filling them out to check if you’ll get a warning. Also, make sure that the error messages guide the users where to place the right input.
Validate Fields: You need to validate some form fields and check that the users input the right data. For example, you may want to validate the email address to guarantee that visitors will always type in the right email addresses.
Prevent SQL Injections: SQL injections can be a serious security risk and you must close this vulnerability. This is where validation steps in again, making sure that the right type of input is provided by users, neutralizing any potential SQL injection that might be embedded in the input string.
Ensure the Users Receive an Auto-Response Message: Make sure the users receive an autoresponder email as a ‘thank you’ for contacting you. Finally, check if the autoresponder email is always sent to the right location. Make sure that it’s displayed properly on every device.
In a perfect world, your WordPress website will be usable without you having to test and improve it. However, in reality, nothing works without usability testing and subsequent enhancements. The checklist above can seem pretty comprehensive. Still, it covers every aspect of your website usability that you need to work on.
Usability testing should be an integral part of running a successful web presence. With all the tools and techniques available today, it has never been easier to ensure that your website is user-friendly and beneficial for your target audience.