The 3 W’s of Usability: What, Why and Where
Usability is undoubtedly one of the most important considerations in designing and building a website. Let us explore the What, Why and Where of this key element of website design.
What: Usability and How it is defined
Usability, simply put, is how easy it is to use the website. This primarily covers the following areas:
- How pleasant is it to look at the website? Does it hurt the eyes due to the size of the text or the improper use of colors? Or does it soothe and make the website visitor feel welcome and at ease?
- Can a user easily go to pages that he is interested in? Does the website let him know if has already visited a page? How quickly does a page load?
- Learnability and memorability. How easy is it for a user to go to the website, use it and get what he came for? Can someone intuitively use the website? If the user is returning to the website, how easy will it be for him to be proficient in how to use the website?
- Are there broken links, misspellings and missing information? How often do the errors happen? How severe are the errors?
Why: Importance of Usability
Your website is there for a purpose. No matter how useful it is and how complete the information it provides, if the user does not have a pleasant experience with the website, he may simply leave the website and not return. Usability also works to:
- Engage users. A website needs to encourage a visitor to interact with it and perform a desired action – to purchase a product, sign-up and give contact details or give their opinions. When there are elements that affect the way the user interacts (and enjoys) the website, the website will most likely fail to engage the user.
- Boost the company’s image. A well-designed website speaks well of your company. In fact, your website will most likely be the first “face” your potential customer will see. If you can produce a pleasant user experience with your website, your potential customer will also get a sense that doing business with you is a good choice. Also, the fact that the website is error-free, efficient and aesthetically pleasing also points to your credibility as a company and your commitment to serve your customers’ needs.
- Give value for your web design budget. Every dollar you spend in improving usability can increase your website’s effectiveness because it is able to reach and engage more users and can also lead to higher conversion rates.
Where: Which website components should you work on?
- Since this is the first thing a user will see (unless you direct them to a landing page), put a lot of effort into designing your homepage. This should give the user the basics about your company – what you do and what value you can provide for them.
- During the design stage of the website, the purpose of the website should be clear. You also need to identify the first three to four major tasks that your target market will do when they visit your website. You need to offer them a clear starting point that follows the “three click rule” – the navigation should enable users to get the information they want with three clicks, at most. Your menu buttons should be easy to use and consistently applied on each page, with one button taking them back to the homepage. Use bread crumbs to let the user know which areas of the website he has already visited.
- Ensure that all pages have a search input box. This is their “direct line” to getting to the page which has the information they want. In general, the input box should be 25 to 27 characters wide.
- Forms should be simple and only ask for the basic information. If you ask for too much or have too many required fields, this may put off the user so that he would not even bother to complete the form.
- Your website copy should be readable and well-written with no spelling and grammatical errors. It should also be written so that a reader can quickly skim through the content.
- Images are not simply eye candy. They convey meaning and can be used to interest the user and direct him to important areas of content. Make wise use of images, avoiding stock photos and going for authentic photos that use “real” people and that are relevant to the topic at hand.
- User interface. This should be consistent and based on interfaces that the users are familiar with.
- Page layout. Work to provide a good balance with white space, images and text. Enable easy visual scanning of content and images by organizing them so that they are visually connected. The website should be able to line up images and boxes so as to provide a balanced look and feel.
About Adaptivity Pro
Adaptivity Pro is your Utah web design team that provides you with a team of expert writers, SEO specialists, designs and programmers who all understand what usability is all about. We are your partner of choice in creating and increasing your website presence not just through usability but also through SLC SEO and internet marketing.