What exactly is website usability? It’s definitely one of those industry jargon terms that many entrepreneurs and business owners might not be familiar with, but should.
Website usability means: how easy is it to use your website?
If you’re unsure of what that is, then chances are you may need some help building a strategy for your website.
Your website’s use is how well it accomplishes the reason you built it. Is it to generate leads? Get someone to make a purchase? Direct people to something else? Each page of your website needs a purpose and if that purpose isn’t clear, then the usability is diminished.
When web marketers look at usability they’re looking to see whether or not a user can complete a defined task with little to no confusion or frustration.
So how do you know if your customers are finding your website easy to use?
Measuring user experience and usability
There are many services that have come and gone when it comes to measuring user activity and a site’s usability.
Heatmap services such as Hotjar or Crazyegg have been semi-successful though woefully abused in the hands of those who don’t know what to do with the information. These types of services give the website owner a birds-eye view at where their website visitors are focusing their attention.
Testing groups can be a great asset but at the same time, these are closed, controlled groups so they often inadvertently present misinformation by way of not being an accurate representation of the site’s actual target market.
The best way to check your website’s usability is your Google Analytics. Google offers its analytic web-based software for free for many reasons. One is so you can make your website better.
Within Google Analytics site owners can check things like how long someone is on a page, where they entered the page from, what they did on the page, and when they left.
If someone lands on your page and leaves nearly right away you have what is called a Bounce. If the majority of your users are bouncing (called a high bounce rate) then you have a usability issue and are offering up a bad user experience where they have left too quickly to take any action.
Another way to check is to set a conversion measurement. This is when you input information into Google Analytics that triggers a signal when someone completes a task as defined in there. You can even assign monetary values to the conversion if you want to measure the revenue generated through the conversion.
Measuring usability is as complicated or as easy as your website is. Larger projects with many types of users and conversion types will have more complicated ways to measure usability but the overall message here is: does your website accomplish your business goals set for it?
Are your users having a bad website experience?
If you’re looking at the overall stats and the numbers are not good then it’s time to look at why your users are having a bad website experience.
Here are 7 questions to ask yourself about your website to avoid frustrating your users:
- Have you clearly defined what your business does and is it appealing to the right audience?
- Did you make it as easy as possible for users to find the information they’re looking for? Typically there should be no more than 3 steps between landing on the site and finding what the user wants.
- Can a customer contact you easily if they are stuck or have any questions?
- Do you have any broken links on your site that will lead users to a dead end?
- How fast does the site load (see test above)?
- Is your website mobile responsive?
- How transparent is your About page?
Nothing can be more frustrating than a dead end so make sure you don’t have any. Users need to have trust established by a website if they’re going to commit their time, money, or both to it.
This is where user test groups can come in handy. Universal website staples that often get forgotten are there so someone who has never been to your website before can have a good experience on it.
Is user experience really the same as usability?
The experience and expectations will vary greatly between websites depending on their purpose.
For large scale big businesses, user experience transcends platforms and current award winners are melding online with offline in attempts to boost both point of sale ‘conversions’ on site and web conversions.
For anyone working in small to medium sized businesses usability is your website’s user experience so focus on that. Make sure when someone lands on your website searching for something, they find what they were needing as quickly and easily as possible.
And don’t forget your user experience doesn’t end there! A conversion is not the end of the road for a good website user experience:
Provide great support.
Your user experience doesn’t stop when the conversion does. Think about the process of your conversion from the perspective of someone performing the conversion. Once you’re done, are you coming back to the website? If you do, are you going to be able to get the support you need right away? Not having a support channel or any indication of one is a big negative for any user. They likely won’t buy from you if they don’t think they can contact you afterward regarding any problems.
Refine your website based on feedback.
Make sure you respond to negative feedback with more than dismissive apologies or a canned ‘thanks for the feedback we’ll work on it’ email. Users who have a bad experience during a conversion but a great experience with support can be recovered customers who will likely buy again. Accept negative feedback as an opportunity to improve even if you disagree with it. Take what you learn from the feedback as a gift. If a user takes the time to complain about something, treat it seriously and remedy the situation (within reason). Maybe they completed their task but have feedback on how easy (or not) it was?
In addition to analyzing your Google Analytics, you can follow up with surveys for customers (if they opt in for having one sent to their email of course) to help refine your user experience.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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