usability - can visitors find what they are looking for?
A website may look good, but does it force a visitor to think too much when they try to find information?
If you don't make the navigation and structure of your website clear visitors will give up and leave very quickly!
Of course you have the final say on what is in your website and the way information is accessed but I'm always happy to advise to ensure your site 'makes sense'.
Common mistakes include using obscure terms to describe simple pages - for example 'More Information' leading to a contact page. This can leave the visitor feeling frustrated. Most people would expect to find more details of your products or service. If they wish to contact you they will look for the 'Contact Us' menu heading. Another problem area is fly-out and drop down menus that have to be negociated for every page change. Whilst unavoidable for some very large websites, for smaller ones there are better ways to create menus.
Visitors expect your website to be like others
Visitors take ownership of their experience on your website. Imagine you visit a different branch of your favourite supermarket looking for a newspaper. You understand you'll need to find the news kiosk, but you fully expect signage to help and for it to be in a logical place. As its a quick purchase and as every other store has the kiosk near the entrance you'd be very frustrated to find it at the back of the shop. Visitors to your website have the same type of logical expectation based on most of the other sites they have seen.
How do I know of my site is Usable?
There is no absolute answer to this. One extreme is to pay for extensive testing with a wide sample of audience types - the other is to ask around as many people as you can for their feedback and look for the common problems. A small sample group is more likely to produce subjective results than a large one. However, I'm confident I can identify most of the common problems in your site and design them out.