7 Critical Website Usability Principles You Should Learn

Fiona Leung
Fiona Leung • Posted on Jul 19, 2016

7 Critical Website Usability Principles You Should Learn


The future of competing websites is headed towards a new evolution; one in which websites that provide a greater user experience will gain superiority over ones that lack this fundamental attribute. In essence, modern and advancing websites are quickly becoming huge multifaceted structures than mere platforms for sharing content. It's all about bringing websites closer to meeting our user's expectations, aka. user experience (UX). This article focuses on 7 critical website usability principles that are simple and effective once learned.

Creating an overall better user experience for your visitors through a well designed website helps foster ease of use as well as greater user engagement, meaning your website will be more successful in driving traffic and generating leads for the long run.


After all, no one likes a website that frustrates them. What I'm trying to say here is....make your website easy to use!

Since design is just as important as functionality, here are 7 basic usability principles you should know in order to keep your website up to date and ahead of the competition.

#1.) 7±2 Principle

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According to George A. Miller's studies, humans can retain only five to nine things in their short-term memory at one time. Since the human brain is limited in its capacity to process information and handles this limitation by dividing information into chunks and units, it has been argued that website navigation menus should also be limited to containing only five to nine items.

So keep that navigation bar at the top short and sweet!

#2.) 2-Second Rule

Perhaps a more obvious principle is the 2-Second Rule which states that the less users have to wait, the better the user experience will be.

Thus, all users should NOT have to wait more than 2 seconds for certain types of system responses, such as application switching and application launching.

#3.) 3-Click Rule

The 3-Click Rule is one of the fundamental building blocks to producing a website with a great UX design. As stressed many times before, content is king but so is an intuitive website design and this principle does a phenomenal job emphasizing this significance.

According to the 3-Click Rule, users stop using a website if they aren't able to find the information they are looking for or access the website's feature within three mouse clicks.


Although, the number of mouse clicks is irrelevant to majority of situations, it still adheres to the basic usability principle and logicality that a good website is one that promotes easy navigation.

In short, please avoid confusing your website users!

#4.) 80/20 Rule

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Wait...so what does that exactly mean?


In the wonderful world of web design, this means that dramatic improvements can be achieved by identifying 20% of users, customers, activities, products or processes that account for 80% of your profit and then maximizing the attention you pay to them. For instance, if majority of your leads come from a certain e-Book you give out once every two months, consider pushing out that e-Book more regularly.

#5.) Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design

From his interface design studies, Ben Shneiderman proposed a collection of principles that were derived heuristically from experience and that apply to most interactive systems. These set of principles are relevant to user interfaces as well as web design:

  • Strive for consistency.
  • Allow frequent users to use shortcuts.
  • Offer informative feedback.
  • Design dialogs to yield closure.
  • Offer simple error handling.
  • Permit easy reversal of actions.
  • Impart a sense of control. Support an internal locus of control.
  • Reduce short-term memory load.

#6.) Fitt's Law


In 1954, Paul Fitts created a law stating that human movement towards a target area is dependent on the distance to that target and the size of it. Essentially, targets that are smaller and further away are more time consuming to acquire.

In relation to website usability, this rule reinforces the benefits of increased accessibility and improved click rates. For example, if a financial advisor wishes for visitors to click on his call to action button, he will place it near the top of the webpage and/or the sidebar versus in the footer which can impede on high clicking rates.

#7.) Inverted Pyramid


The Inverted Pyramid is also a well known principle in journalism whereby writers give their readers a summary before revealing finer details about a topic.

Also known as the "waterfall" effect, this principle can also be applied to web design since web users often enjoy instant gratification similar to how readers can gain a bigger and better picture of the topic immediately before unraveling its background information.

To Conclude...

Making great strides in building predictable and intuitive websites can eliminate frustrated users and thus, help you not only gain larger amounts of viewers that are coming to your site but, more importantly, help retain them.

As such, don't just make your website a pretty sight to see; ensure it also promotes ease of use and an intuitive functionality if you want your viewers to stay.


To learn more about what Advisor Websites can do for you, book a demo today.


About Advisor Websites

Founded in 2012, Advisor Websites specializes in helping financial advisors stand out and grow their business online with conversion-friendly, personalized websites and targeted digital marketing solutions, all which follow FINRA and SEC guidelines.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for informational purposes only. If you are planning to implement a new marketing practice and are unsure what the regulations are, always contact your compliance department first.

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