Usability: Why is it Important?

 

Why is Online Usability Important For a Company?

Online usability refers to the ease by which a visitor can interact with your website or mobile application and use it for his/her intended purpose. It is a measurement tool used to enhance the quality of a visitor’s experience. To maintain good online usability, companies with websites and mobile applications should have a goal of engaging visitors to the point where they will return.  When you focus on usability, the return on investment equates to repeat customers with high regard of your company.

What is Usability?

Simplicity of design is the golden rule for the website usability.   In this case, “design” does not mean just the graphical representation of your website or mobile application, rather the structure and the way it flows:  the layout, the content organization, the ease in finding information, the success a customer feels when interacting with your business online.  Your visitors should have productive and enjoyable experience whether that is relevant to learning something, getting know your product or converting to a potential customer. As it works out, a positive user experience (UX) will allow your website or mobile application to be a successful engagement tool.

The characteristics of the website usability can be defined in five key area. These include:

  • Accessible / Error Free
  • Simple / Clear
  • Credible / Trustworthy
  • Quick to Learn
  • Relevant to the User’s Needs

Usability increases outputs for both the provider and the users or potential customers.

Benefits To Providers From Usability

A business will set its usability objectives through the combination of the analysis of business tasks, user profiling and general business goals. These may couple with other factors such as competitive analysis, marketing information, informed opinions and technical support groups. With so many potential inputs, it is easy to develop a considerable list of business goals, so the company must prioritize them taking into account their users’ goals. A successful business will balance the usability goals of the business with those of its users.  There are times when marketing practices come into conflict with the usability of the website, but understanding and putting ease toward users reaching those goals are paramount to a positive user experience, resulting in:

  • Increased revenues
  • Increased referrals
  • Positive feedback
  • Returning customers
  • Reduced customer service engagements

How to Improve Usability

There are several ways to understand and improve on usability, but user testing is arguably the most effective and comprise of:

  • Identify the target audience — the type of customer you most want to engage with — and gather a representative sampling of users
  • Ask these users to perform scripted scenarios on your website or mobile application.  These scenarios might include asking them to find information or your site, purchasing an item, or engaging in a process
  • Watch and take notes on the positive and negative things you hear, on where they struggle, and on where they find ease.

These tests should be performed 1 on 1 (not in a group setting), and it is important that the facilitator in no way guides the users through the process.  If a user cannot perform a given task, it is not reflective of the intelligence or competence of the user, rather that the online interface was not adequately designed for the user.

Effect Of Website Usability

Imagine it is 6:00.  You have been looking forward to dinner at a specific restaurant for weeks, even had a light lunch in anticipation.  You walk in.  Someone who appears to be the host approaches you, speaking gibberish.  You are confused, but you ask “Table for two please?”   The host walks away and you follow.  He leads you into a storage room.  You say “No, no, table for two please.”  He speaks gibberish again and leads you into a game room.  And then he disappears.  You try a door but it is locked.  Then you try another, and it opens to a cavernous room that is pitch black.   You fumble around, bumping into tables.  You find an open table and sit down and call “Hello?  Can I order please?”  You get no response.

Can you imagine the confusion?  The frustration?  Would you at this point be wondering if you got the restaurant name right?  It is likely that you come to the conclusion that this is not the right place for you.  At a minimum, it is not a positive experience.  But one that you will remember.

“A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson.” – Jakob Nielsen

A website with a simple interface and user-friendly design will increase the satisfaction of your users, make them feel at home, make them feel you are talking to THEM and that you care about their needs.  Conversely, a website that violates usability confuses its customers and may result in frustration and dissatisfaction, and eventually, in a loss of profit for the business.

 

Yep, usability is pretty important.

 

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