Do you know your site has issues? The fight for usability.

Posted on 16. Dec, 2011 by in Digital Marketing

Driving quality traffic to your website is a key goal for most our media services, but what happens to that traffic once it gets there?  Are your users getting what they expect from your site?  Do they find the information they are seeking or are they leaving?

It is not only important to drive traffic to your site, but to address the experience your users have once there.  Your site could be performing better but you just don’t realise it.  There may be barriers to conversions that you do not know about.  The answer, better usability.

There is a belief that more visitors equal more conversions right?   Not necessarily true, and in most cases, not a guarantee.

More traffic means more conversions? 

Yes SEO and PPC help you attract quality traffic, and better qualified traffic may increase conversion rates slightly.  However, combine that traffic with a better, more user friendly site and you will increase your chances of creating even more conversions.

People are what make your website survive, therefore it seems logical to make it the best experience possible for the user.  Fundamentally, as Shaun Gomm so righty states – “if a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people will leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If a website’s information is hard to read or doesn’t answer users’ key questions, they leave”.

You may not realise that your site has potential issues that result in increased bounce / exit rates than necessary, nor that with help you can identify and address those issues.

Usability identifies, tests and fixes these issues

Why fix something that’s not broken?  Our argument is, how do you know it’s not broken?  Often we are tasked with resolving the issues you know about.  What about the issues you don’t know about?  A site that is converting well can still make improvements.  Don’t settle for good, aim for better.

“They won’t buy usability if they don’t know what it is.”

W.Craig Tomlin sums up the problem, and I fully agree, ‘if clients don’t know what it is, they won’t invest hard earned resources into it’. Why would anyone buy a service they do not know about?  Perhaps the real issue is education.

The problem – education

One of the more unhelpful claims I hear people make is ‘we’ll improve usability’.  As nice as that sounds, this is sadly not as helpful as they think.  There are many components to web usability, in particular, the separation of usability and user experience to its individual components:

  • Learnability — how easily a beginner can use the system, and how easily they can become an expert.
  • Efficiency — how quickly people can achieve what they want.
  • Memorability — how easily people can remember how to use the system or feature, after not using it for a while.
  • Safety — how rarely people experience errors, and how easy it is to fix any errors.
  • Satisfaction — how pleased people are with the overall experience.

By understanding the different services available and how these are vital to a user’s experience, it is possible to find and address potential pitfalls within your site that reduce your conversion capability.

When do you need to think about Usability?

We are often asked ‘well when should usability be considered’.  There is no when, the time is now.  Any website, at any stage of design/build/development/on-going optimisation can benefit from improved usability.

Final thoughts

The Holy Grail is in fact self-advancement, a never ending quest to better your website through trial and error through an effective web usability campaign.  By understanding your user you can effectively design an experience that captures and drives all the valuable efforts of other media services like SEO effectively.  Don’t just drive traffic, understand your user and develop a site for them by addressing the issues you don’t see through web usability.

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  • Fulton

    Excellently put and explained.
    Any Site no matter how clever and brilliant can always be improved to achieve its aims.
    Sometimes “simple is best!”
    We must always accommodate all levels of users, think of others not just ourselves when developing sites.