In the age of information a website for your business is the essential tool to help your customers and prospects understand your products or services and exactly what you can offer them to meet their needs. Those looking for a product or service turn to the web to find suggestions and learn what others have experienced.
It isn't enough, however, to stick a website up and hope you will get clients and customers flocking to your door. One of the most important aspects of a website is its usability. In general, this indicates how easy it is for someone to get the information they are looking for and it's critical that your customer's journey is a smooth and effective process. Conducting regular usability testing is great way to ensure your brand's website stays up to scratch.What is usability?
Usability is composed of five components. The ideal website takes all five into account where designing and maintaining is concerned. Let's take a look at these five components -
Learnability - How easy is it for new visitors to your website to figure out where everything is. Do you have a search box that is easy to find and use? Are your different pages accessible regardless of where a visitor happens to find himself. If a website is too complicated to learn, visitors become frustrated and look for another place to find their information.Memorability - Among the thousands of websites on the Internet, your website needs to stand out so that it can be remembered when a visitor wants to return. Is your logo easy to recognize and remember? What can you include in your site that will make people remember it a week or month later?
Efficiency - Does your site contain the kind of information that a visitor will be looking for? Have you included a FAQ page of the most often asked questions? Are there easy to read and understand articles that help convey the information most needed by clients in your field? Attention spans are short. You need to make sure relevant information is not only available, but can be found immediately when someone is looking to find it.
Satisfaction - When a visitor leaves your site, you want them to be happy about what they have found there. You want all their questions answered and for them to leave with knowledge, not confusion.
Errors - This is one of the quickest ways to lose credibility with visitors. Spelling and grammar need to be correct. Information needs to be valid and easily verified by other sources. Links need to work properly and be easily recognized. Taking the time to proofread everything and regularly check whether or not your links are live will go a long way in giving visitors a sense that you can be trusted.
- Why is usability important?
You may be wondering why usability is so important. Isn't it enough that the information is there? No. Short attention spans and the easy access to competitors makes it necessary to keep visitors on your site as long as possible. If they leave unhappy or frustrated, you have lost a potential customer. There are a few other reasons that make good usability essential.
- Complication means dissatisfaction - It also gives the impression that you do not care about the time and feelings of visitors. If people get the impression you don't care about them, you lose any credibility. People want to feel their needs are important.
- Your website is your image - Customers may never have the opportunity to meet you in person. Even if they do eventually, your website is your first impression in most instances. Trust is based on knowing the person you are doing business with. A website that isn't usable gives a bad impression of both you and what you have to offer. Think of your website as dress clothes you would wear in person.
- It's all about the content - A nice-looking site is great, but the most important aspect should be what the site can give to your visitors. If the information is hidden among a lot of useless fluff, it will send people elsewhere. The same goes for making visitors travel a maze to get to the good stuff. Keep in mind that content comes first and pretty second.
Why conduct usability testing?
Your site looks good. You know it has everything necessary and you made sure to include all the important elements that you were told was necessary by those who have more experience. Why then should you bother taking all that extra time to test for usability?
- Your viewpoint is skewed - Think of your website as your home. You can walk in your home and probably navigate in the dark. You know where everything is and how to get to it. You know what might block a path or cause you to trip. Invite a stranger in, however, and even with the lights on, they won't know how to get to the kitchen or the bathroom. They won't know the aspirin is on the second shelf of the upstairs medicine cabinet, right next to the heartburn medicine. It is the same with your website. You can navigate it perfectly, but visitors won't instinctively be able to know where everything is. You need to make sure they can find there way.
- If they don't like it, they won't stay - or return - With all the choices available to internet users, they aren't going to stay on a website that causes confusion and frustration. They will leave and search for a less complicated way to find the information they seek. You need people to stay on your site if you are to build a relationship with them and make them feel comfortable doing business with you. It is rare that sales are made based on one visit. If a visitor leaves quickly, they are unlikely to return and give it a second chance.
- Usability builds trust - You pass on the unspoken message that you respect a visitor's time. You show that their needs are important and you don't make them feel as though it is all about the sale and getting their money. The more usable your site, the more positive feelings you build with visitors. It is these positive feelings that build trust.
- Usability creates conversion - Happy visitors are more likely to click on a button for more information or to make a purchase. You have made it possible for them to get their questions answered, find out about you and what you offer and made them feel valued. All this adds up to creating a greater willingness for them to continue onto the next step with confidence.
- Competition is fierce - The internet makes it possible for your visitors to also visit every competitor you have. If you make it difficult for visitors to get what they need, it is only a matter of seconds before they can be looking at the site of a competitor. If that site is easier to navigate, gives more information and is generally more usable, you have lost a sale.
Wrapping it Up
Your website can be one of your greatest assets. It can also be your biggest downfall. You want your first impression to be a positive one that leads people to wanting to get to know you better and trust you enough to spend their money on what you have to offer. By making every effort possible to see that your website is usable to as many people as possible, you increase your chances of this greatly. With all you have put into the other areas of your business, don't allow your website to be your downfall and make sure usability testing is on your to do list!
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