Usability – or why is it so vital for your online business

Usability – or why is it so vital for your online business
  • 16 [May] 2018
This material will provide you with the basic, but mandatory idea/knowledge with the help of which you can join the side of survivors. Due to the fact that our site is being visited by people familiar with this matter on a different level, we can start from the lowest to the highest level – which perhaps could cause some irritation to the people who have more knowledge of the subject. So we ask for your forgiveness if you are one of these people!

So... what usability is, or – why do visitors leave my website so quickly?

Every person who had developed ‘something’ for someone else has inevitably faced directly or indirectly with the measure for continence. And namely – usability is the measure that answers the question how easy it is for the other people to use this ‘something’ in question. Whether we talk about an internet website, digital marketing, banner advertisement, blog, application or even a post in the social network – we will always experience the measure of usability and convenience.

After reading these few lines you could easily say: ‘Wait a minute! How’s that? Is it only this? Why Amazon then has a bunch of books on the subject’ Yes, that is true, there are 6 167 results up to date. This is a simple, but quite important and profound subject. Usability can actually be separated as a science with a whole range of divisions and specializations. We will be reviewing here only the essence/the basics, because once you have understood what is it about is just a matter of time to learn, to use and to improve this indicator in practice.

In order to escape the trap of the losers, it is vital to learn about Usability

As you know ………. if you still do not know, it is time to figure it out that the dynamics with which information is spread out in Internet is at least enormous. This means that your online authority, popularity, advertising, articles, etc., are things that get really difficult to be managed once they are launched in the global network. The result is that if all those ‘things’ (listed above) work and users come on your website, they need to get a maximum dosage of ease when using your website, to easily read the articles, to easily recognize and learn the functionality, so that they could clearly see what kind of services you offer, etc.

It was not so necessary before (due to the less volume of informational noise), now it is a different situation – the knowledge and application of systems, methodologies and tests for usability are mandatory conditions in order that your website, blog, brand, product or service could survive in internet!!!

If a website /blog or service is difficult to be used – users just leave
It the path leading towards the product that you offer in your online store is long and requires ‘wandering’- users just leave
If your website design tires and ‘annoys’ the user’s eye - users just leave
If the information that you offer is of poor quality and poor structure - users just leave
If users cannot easily navigate the home page - users just leave
If you have not thought about these issues – just hope that it is not too late to think about them now.

On what levels /elements usability divides?

In order to have a clear idea about what exactly falls under usability, we will list here all the components according to which we measure and improve usability.

Learning is a factor that reflects on the thing how easily a user that has visited your website, blog or application for the first time – learns functionality, navigation, elements, etc. If you have already applied techniques and methods for easier cognitive perception of information then you would have done larger part of the work on this section of usability.

After once the user has learned about design features, functionality details, navigation location, etc., then the important factor here is – how quickly (how much time will it take) he would perform a functional operation or a task on your site. The more intuitive actions website design and functionality can offer, the highest results will be achieved in this direction – from this component.

This factor will have a greater value in case you want to improve your sales, to reduce the Bounce rate and to increase the ratio between new users and returning users. The important thing here is that in order to measure the result of this component of usability science – again an eye should be kept on how easily users can fulfill tasks or operations, but only after they return in a certain period of time. Shorter times of implementation are a better indicator.

usability elements

While the users interact with your website, blog, product or service, he will make mistakes. People always make mistakes. If the website design along with the users interface and functionality are well designed – the level of mistakes will be minimized. This is extremely important condition for increasing the usability rate. It is exactly the mistakes and the possibility for setting them right quickly and intuitively, are the things that find place in this component.

Contrary to logic, web browsing requires physical effort which directly affects the users’ experience. Human brain (on subconscious level) always strives to reduce the effort by finding the shortest way to do it. This component measures and improves all physical efforts that the user makes – such as eyes movement, frequency and number of clicks, tension on fingers from using the scroll, wrist movements, etc.

The ending point of all measurements and the final factor from the sections concerning the usability of a website, blog, application or service, is – how satisfied the user will be after his interaction with the design, functionality, information, etc. The chance for having a satisfied user is increasing with every element that you have asked yourself how is the user going to interact with it, if it is going to be easy, will it confuse him, what effort will it require, etc.

And was this the most important? NO!

Once we know what usability actually is, all the rest will spin around it. Psychology, physiology, good practices, visual manipulation, user behavior – everything that helps us in achieving website goals, gets under usability ‘umbrella’. However, this is not the subject of this article. These subjects are directly related to users behavior and users experience (UX).

A particularly important rule is that no matter what the good practices that we follow are – until we see, trace and analyze how successfully users handle with the website, we cannot use any method with a 100% trust. We can gladly recommend you an article from Lifehack website, where you can read for number of consequences coming from users’ behavior which is directly related to the usability level in a website.

It is good to know that even the most tested method, defended by five institutes of human behavior, with 100 years of practice and which has over 100 scientific works about it, will be a real insane thing to use it if it does not fit the project and the website goals – there aren’t two opinions about that. Good practices provide guidelines which are based on certain expectations and measurements. At what extend our website and our users will fit there – depends on the situation. Only the clash with reality could show you this.

But how can we find out if we are moving on the right track?

The simplest, but effective and underestimated way for finding out if our usability works, is to make simple tests with real users, who had not seen the website before that. So we take the users (mother, father, brother, niece, boyfriend, girlfriend and a couple of friends) and we place them in front of the computer. It is important that the user is relatively close to the expected audience – technical knowledge and users search.

the right way

So we leave the user in the website, without saying anything, and we watch what he or she is doing, where he clicks, what he is looking at. It is very important just to observe without asking questions (not yet), because people do not actually realize most of their actions. If this measurement concerns driving a most serious business website, building a brand, etc., you should approach more professionally and more precise group of respondents should be assembled, and more specific test should be carried out with this group.

In addition, lots of companies build in Heatmap applications in this case, with the help of which they can track where users click, how quickly they scroll, which are the elements that they point with the mouse cursor, and the companies that have a budget set for testing and improving of usability, rent or buy eyetracking equipment with the help of which they also analyze which elements attract users attention, where they read, where their focus is, which element draws their attention more in comparison to other element (it is measured with time), etc.

So… we give the user one really simple and basic task– ‘Choose a pair of shoes and buy it’ or – ‘Register in the website and make a comment’ and we carefully observe how the user gets oriented.

In general – you observe how easily the user will manage with the task, and the easier he does it, the better we have managed. Otherwise, we need to find out where exactly the user wanders, what confuses him, what he expects to happen and to proceed with corrections having this information in mind. It is important to mention that only one user is not a representative extract for website effectiveness. In general– the more they are, the better feedback you receive. Of course we do not mean using hundreds of testers. But around 10 people can give us a great extract how we are moving with website fulfillment. If we catch a trend in disparities– this is the place where it should be analyzed.

The conclusion from the information so far

This is a fundamental subject in every website development or web based marketing, or online sales. The advice and conclusions here may seem extremely simple, even offensively clear, but practice and experience show that many web products suffer from the lack of them.

I will repeat myself – the easier, the most receptive and physically easier working with our website is, then users can do whatever they want with our website – it is better for them and for us. If users experience difficulties, their first reaction will be to leave the place that violates their comfort zone.

Of course in order one goal to be successful, some things should be absolutely clear to us – to know what users want (which usually is not easy at all) and to build the website in such a way that it meets their needs.

All disparities with users’ expectations and our expectations are a huge problem – then our whole concept is garbage (unless the goal of the project was to identify such differences). Also, this is a commonly met problem. At one simple planning, even an average test and asking a few basic questions, will save us a number of problems that may literally cause the difference between success and failure.

And as for a big final ……… How do you feel about our website? Would you use our services?

About the author
Slavcho Panov

Long-time SEO Expert and Digital Marketing Specialist. Big fan of white-hat seo, author, lecturer and magician.

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