‘Usability’ is one of the most important considerations for any website, yet it is often overlooked when the focus is placed on other issues, such as a 'state of the art' design or the requirements for effective search engine optimisation.
Usability is about putting the needs of the user first. It is measured by the quality of a user’s experience on a website - how simple can the site be used, from navigating around, knowing where you are and where to go next, understanding the content and what to do, plus if it’s an e-commerce site, how easy is the checkout process to understand and complete?
Planning and designing your website needs to achieve a balance between all of its potentially conflicting requirements, from being attractive and inviting to look at, to making the content encourage repeat usage, to having a high usability rating and to enable search engines to rank it well. There may need to be a trade-off between some of these factors, but ultimately the balance needs to be achieved so that your site performs its main objective as best as possible – which is ultimately to sell a product or service!
Improving the usability of your website
If you’re developing a new website, you need to consider how it will achieve your objectives most effectively – whether that means providing information or a service, or to sell a product. These are some issues to consider:
- How will the structure of the site enable users to complete a task?
- What type of navigation structure is required, depending on the size of the site?
- How will graphics be used and can they be optimised to reduce load times?
- If the site is selling online, what information needs to be collected and how many clicks are needed to complete the sale process?
If you already have a site which isn’t working as well as you would like, you may need to review the overall user experience to understand why, such as:
- Look at your website traffic statistics to see what clues can be found, such as with page usage and departure points
- Compare your website with competitors in your market and score each site’s performance across a range of key factors
- Conduct user surveys, which can range from online analysis tools to more in-depth focus groups.
How the Web Marketing Workshop can help
Having worked with many different websites across numerous market sectors, we can help by managing the design process of your website, including the ‘requirements elicitation’, which helps to identify your user expectations so that the resulting website will achieve them as efficiently as possible. We can also help by:
- discussing the main objectives of your website and agreeing how to meet the needs of your users
- working with the website designers to produce graphical diagrams or descriptive case studies to visualize the site
- preparing navigational flowcharts, sample site maps or diagrams to simplify the e-commerce processes as simply as possible
- identifying and implementing the best methods of undertaking user reviews or analysis of your website to highlight potential problem areas – and then take action to resolve them
- adding the element of common sense to your website design, using an external customer perspective which can sometimes get overlooked in the desire to achieve an award-winning website!
If you would like to review or revise the usability of your website, contact us now for more information and find out how we can add value to your website development. Alternatively, request our FREE marketing assessment for an initial report on your website, together with our recommendations for action.