Usability, a balancing act to increase user satisfaction & conversions

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Mon, May 12, 2008 at 9:20AM

A usability professional observes what users do once they get to a web page.  Their job is to make sure once on the website the customer is able to achieve there goal.  Does the web page meet the need?  Is it easy to navigate to other web pages?  Understanding the browsing and scanning process of customers is key.

Usability research assures traffic and conversions

Usability consulting uses a usability analyst who can find obstacles preventing customers from buying.  They do a usability evaluation, which will evaluate marketing, layout, technical and design issues that may be driving customers to leave the website.  With good SEO and Usability, you can produce traffic and conversions for a website.  SEO’s are teaming with usability analyst and providing higher conversions.  Resulting in positive testimonials of satisfied customers with the buying process.

If money is an issue, do a simple test and have 20 people access your website and have them answer a set of questions to see their overall opinion.  This will prove to be an eye opening experience.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is important before and after the construction of a website.  A good SEO company understands the customers query, browsing and scanning behavior and incorporates this into a well-designed web site.  Many users will not see your home page as the first page after clicking your listing in a search engine.  This means it's important to design all pages of a website so that they are user-friendly.  Good design firms consider SEO and usability for all pages of a web site.

SEO without usability is a costly mistake

A web site may have great SEO to get the customer to the website but then falls short on usability when a customer is on the website.  Some frustrating things that a customer on a website may encounter are:

  • No prices listed on product page
  • Limited description
  • Poor quality pictures
  • Poor Navigation
  • Unusable shopping carts
  • Unsecured order forms
  • Bad organization of products

Track how users enter and leave the website and if they leave on the same web page maybe this page needs to be addressed for usability.  With poor usability on the website, this can cause a customer to bounce off the website and be frustrated.

Usability Tips

  • These simple steps can be what a customer finds useful and stays on a website:
  • Make the "call to action" a prominent part of the web page.
  • Make sure your topic is briefly described near the top.
  • Add a search form.
  • Use color to show the user the difference between visited and unvisited links.
  • Make font size large enough to be legible for your users
  • Break text into paragraphs.
  • Make sure the website works with all major browsers.
  • Make forms easy and short.
  • Follow web standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

Accessibility & Section 508 Compliance

Making a website available to all customers and those with limitations or handicaps is also part of usability.   With over 30 percent of people on the web being elderly or disabled, this is an important part of the market you don't want to miss.  Some types of web sites may be required to be Section 508 compliant.

The US government enacted a law, Section 508, to address this issue:
http://www.section508.gov/

Summary

Usability is as an important part of an effective website.  Investing in a well-executed custom web site from the beginning is best.  Whether you are required to be Section 508 compliant or not, usability will increase your business by helping more users find the information they need and complete your web site goals.  


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