Key Usability Principles for Web Development You Need to Know

Usability Principles in Web Development

One of the first things SEO services specialists look at in a website is whether it meets the basic usability requirements. This is one of the core goals of web design: they exist to help any user interact with the web interface, even if they have no prior experience of browsing the Internet.

So, why is website usability important? In this article, we will explore what it is, why it matters, and what are the usability goals of web design and development that should be implemented in every site.

Why Is Usability Important?

Why should you test and improve usability requirements for a website? Is it such a big deal? The answer is: absolutely, yes. When a user reaches a site, they should enjoy a smooth browsing experience and actually achieve what they wanted to do: read an article, look at product specifications, get the company’s contact details, etc.

Even a user who goes online for the first time and reaches a website should feel comfortable that they know what they are doing. Usability principles exist to avoid making the user feel that the website is too smart and complex for them to understand it. You do not want to make a potential client feel that they are not adequate or good enough to navigate your site. They will get frustrated and leave it, looking for a site where they can do what they need without any struggle.

Specialists can test your site for usability requirements and then fix all the problems.

The 10 Core Usability Goals for Websites

Now you know why website usability is important – to help you retain as many visitors and convert them into customers. The next step is learning about the system usability requirements for each website. They are expressed by 10 goals, derived from Jakob Nielsen’s usability heuristics.


This is the first of the usability goals for any system, not just a website. An effective system must achieve its basic purpose. Consider, for example, the face of a wristwatch. Some of them are very complex, others are absurdly minimalistic. An effective wristwatch will help any person tell the time with reasonable accuracy (the hour and the minute).

Thus, improving usability is a must if the average user is unable to make sense of a web page and follow through with the expected CTA (signing up for a newsletter, leaving a comment, registering for a webinar, etc.).


Effectivity in itself is not enough if the user needs a lot of time to figure out what to do on a website. If you still wonder why to think about usability and user experience, remember that you have competitors who are trying their best to attract your clients and website visitors and convert them. Efficiency is the usability goal that ensures this does not happen once you reach it.


One of the core usability principles in any field is that the user must feel in control at all times. Thus, they must be able to pause videos, go back to the previous web page, jump directly to the product specifications, and take any other actions they wish. 

If they feel that their actions are dictated by the web interface, you have failed in one of the major usability goals. Nobody likes feeling restricted in their actions and choices, so the user will probably close the browser window and look for another website.


A key requirement for a website is that anyone should be able to use it. This is one of the most critical usability goals, especially in a world that tries to be as inclusive as possible. Thus, users should be able to adapt the font size, switch from light to dark mode, and make other changes to the way your web page is displayed. This will give them an optimal browsing experience and allow them to understand your content.


Among other important usability criteria, consistency stands out as beneficial both for the user and for your brand. Everything in the web page must fit together, and the pages in your website should have a consistent, recognizable layout. People should experience the Gestalt – the feeling that all the parts form a whole and nothing is extra.


Form must complement function, not the other way round – this is one of the core usability principles. This means that you should not sacrifice ease of use for a spectacular but difficult to navigate website layout and design scheme. Your website is not a work of art to exhibit in a museum and let critics wonder what it means. It is the online presence of your business and it must allow all users to browse it with ease.


Usability goals include giving the user the assurance that they know exactly where they are and what browsing possibilities they have. It is similar to the plan exhibited in public buildings with a red X marked on a spot and reading “you are here”.


How do you know that a video is loading? You look at the little spinning icon. The presence of this icon is a system feedback – it tells the user what is happening. Principles of usability say that websites should offer this type of feedback at any stage during the user’s visit to the page.

Error Tolerance

Users make mistakes – they click on the wrong button, they try to send a form without filling in all required fields, etc. One of the usability goals is to prevent this from happening without “punishing” the user for their mistake. The error message must be simple, friendly, and easy to understand.


User experience may be the last on the list of usability goals, but not the least experience. Whether they read a blog post or look over the technical details of a product, the usability principles state that the user must have a good and enjoyable experience.

Specialists work on improving usability on all levels, including mobile browsing experience.

Still Confused? Let the Team at Direct SEO Handle Your Website Development

Making sure that you implemented all the usability requirements can be a daunting task. This is why the team of professionals at Direct SEO is here to help you with anything from creating a new site to improving usability on an existing one. We are located in Philadelphia, PA, and serve both local areas and nationwide, so call us now: 267 626 2554

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