What is usability and why does it matter?

Definition of usability: a measurement of how easy or effective an interface system is to a user. 

But, what does this mean for your website? Let’s say your website’s main goal is to allow people to buy flowers online, usability can measure how well the user interface allows users to accomplish this goal, how fast and what errors are present – if any! Ultimately, the easier and more enjoyable your site is to use, the longer people will stick around.

3 Examples of Bad Usability:

  • Users get confused or frustrated by the site's layout
  • The site uses vague terms or jargon, resulting in pages being flooded with irrelevant and unnecessary content that hinders or distracts the user
  • The user-buying process is complicated or time consuming

3 Examples of Good Usability:

  • The site's layout is intuitive, follows a hierarchy of importance with key pages easily accessible
  • Information is simple and clear; users can easily find out how they buy flowers using the website
  • The buying process is quick and easy, and is similar to other check out processes’ users are familiar with

What’s the difference between UX (user experience) and Usability?

User experience and usability are terms used by a number of professions, especially web design. The meaning of each can sometimes be used interchangeably or misunderstood, and although both share similar goals, there’s a difference.

Whilst usability determines errors and measures user satisfaction, UX is a large umbrella term that encompasses many different aspects contributing to what a user experiences during an interaction; usability being part of this. UX considers more complex aspects of the users’ interaction, such as user needs, wants, abilities and motivations, as well as usability.

Why is usability vitally important for your website?

There’s nothing worse than not being able to easily interact with a site, you know could have what you’re looking for on it. This is the exact reason why fine-tuning your usability is key and has to be well considered – after all, you don’t want your user going elsewhere! 

Ensuring the navigation of your site is streamlined and interactive is 100% expected by users of today, without this you could be risking losing them to competitors. Accessibility to alternative solutions is far too convenient for any user, meaning their tolerance for poor usability on websites is usually extremely low. Simply put: the convenience of leaving a website and finding another, outweighs the poor usability of the site.

Users must find what they are looking for easily and quickly via clear information and intuitive design, or they will undoubtedly leave.

Here are 7 questions to consider about your website:

- How accessible is your site? Can you be found easily?

- Does the design of the site fit with your brand and make the right impression?

- How easy is it to navigate around your site?

- How long does it take for your site to load and do some pages load faster than others?

- Is the website’s goal clear and prominent?

- Are your call to actions easily visible and accessible?

- Are there any errors present?

How do we get usability right?

Although usability testing is commonly practised by marketing agencies and companies alike, it doesn’t mean you can’t be included in the process. It’s always a good idea to include testing within any sort of design development. This involves getting a group of people who are relevant to the target user group to simply use the interface or system, to perform intended tasks (ultimately, carry out the process to achieve the goal of the website) to find any errors or issues.

Solid and well-tested usability design on websites allows users to achieve their primary goals and adds to a positive user experience overall; increasing your websites success and saving you money.

If you would like us to provide you with a full site audit with recommendations on how to improve your usability and user experience, email me: josh@dreamscape.solutions or call us on 01925 755 960 – we’d be happy to get you get your site up to speed!

About the author

Josh Robins

Award Winning Websites That Deliver Results

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