Utilizing Usability.gov to Assist Your Clients

In June of 2015 I wrote a blog post on information architecture and user-centered design that discussed creating a content inventory, writing for the Web, focusing on page layouts and navigation, and conducting user testing. While there are many books and resources available to learn how to successfully follow each of these steps, usability.gov is a one-stop resource for teaching your clients to improve the user experience on their site.

The site is broken into two main sections: the What & Why of Usability and How To & Tools.  The “What and Why of Usability” goes into a brief explanation of all of the areas that comprise usability:

  • User Experience – The characteristics involved in providing a meaningful and valuable user experience.
  • User Research – The use cases for focus groups, expert reviews, individual interviews, surveys, and personas.
  • Information Architecture – How to best categorize and structure information, how to represent information, how users navigate through the system, and how users search.
  • User Interface – When to use interface elements such as form elements (radio buttons vs. checkboxes, buttons vs. links, etc.), navigational elements such as breadcrumbs and pagination, and help elements such as tooltips and overlays.
  • Visual Design – With a focus on Gestalt’s principles of design, such as grouping elements by proximity and similarity.
  • Content Strategy – The content lifecycle and how to best create meaningful content.
  • Accessibility – Some basic 508 compliance principles and resources for learning more about 508 and accessibility.
  • Web Analytics – Information on what metrics are most important, and what the best practices are.

Using the information above, you can assist your client by going step-by-step through these areas to determine what will be most valuable for their site, and where they may need your assistance.

The two most important sections in the “How To & Tools” section of usability.gov are the Methods section and the “Resources and Templates” section.  The Methods section goes into more detail on all of the sections described above, to talk about how to implement each. Instead of giving users basic information, the Methods section gives very specific and detailed information on how to correctly follow best practices and get the desired feedback or results.

The Resources and Templates section provides templates for usability studies, usability testing reports, surveys, personas, wireframes, and more. This section also provides books and publications in case you and your clients are interested in learning more about a specific area of usability.

With usability.gov, both you and your client will be armed with all of the necessary resources to improve the usability on your site, and to provide site visitors with a positive user experience.