Looking for a surefire way to boost conversions? Common advice is to put your website to the test and find out exactly what you can do to improve its usability.
What is website usability?
This refers to the ease and speed at which your users are able to learn, understand and utilize your website. It measures the effectiveness, attractiveness and usefulness of your site from the perspective of your target visitors.
Why focus on this?
When you work on improving your site’s usability, you’re basically cleaning up the clutter and filling in the gaps that distract your visitors from their journey. You minimize, if not eliminate, the barriers along their way. You structure their experience to be as seamless and fuss-free as possible. You give them the clearest and most obvious solution to their questions.
In other words:
when you make your website more usable, you create a more positive user experience – a gesture that they will reciprocate with repeat visits and loyalty to your brand.
- 79% of visitors will jump to another site if they have difficulty completing a task
- Mobile users will be 5x more likely to abandon their task if the site is not optimized for their use
- 61% of visitors will leave if they had a hard time searching
- 40% of users never return to a site if they felt annoyed or frustrated during their first visit
- 75% of users abandon their shopping carts – and 25% of abandonments happen because users find the checkout process confusing
User experience authority Steve Krug sees “usability as common courtesy.” You want to build a site that increases goodwill among your users.
Good website usability is achieved through intelligent, user-centered design. Everything – from layout, to typography, to colors, to content and more – should be serving the mission of making it easy and obvious for your users to benefit the most from your website.
Web usability consultant Jakob Nielsen gets to the point: “On the Web, usability is a necessary condition for survival. If a website is difficult to use, people leave.” He defines usability via the following five quality components:
- Learnability: The level of ease with which first-time users complete basic tasks
- Efficiency: The speed with which users perform basic tasks once they have learned the design
- Memorability: The ability of users to re-establish their proficiency after not using it for some time
- Errors: The number and intensity of errors that users make, as well as how easily they can recover from those mistakes
- Satisfaction: The level of satisfaction, which relies on how pleasant the experience was, when using the design
What Is Usability Testing?
Achieving decent scores on the abovementioned factors is no mean feat. You’ll need to work with website development experts who possess in-depth knowledge of industry design standards if you want to build a website with good usability.
However, no matter how hard your team worked on your site or how great it looks like, you are not the target audience. The only way to determine its usability is to test it in real life, according to the experience of real users.
With website usability testing, you recruit real users – people who belong to your audience demographic – to explore and interact with your website. By documenting and observing their responses, you may come up with an analysis that uncovers important revelations about your website.
The results of your testing can reveal your site’s flaws and barriers to usability, before it goes live and the errors become costly.
Testing Methods and Principles
When should you do the testing? Usability testing is done before the website officially goes live. You can test site interface as early as the pre-building, early design phase. You also do it once the site is completely built and almost ready to go live.
How do you go about it? You may observe your testers in person or remotely via online screen sharing and voice chats. A common method is to ask testers to narrate their reactions and comments as they go explore the site or go through a specific task you instructed them to do.
Is it expensive? Testing often requires setting up a meticulous and sometimes tedious process. But the scale and cost can be adjusted according to your capacity.
Some companies have the resources to recruit hundreds of testers. But usability experts say it doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can come up with useful results from a small control group.
You can launch usability studies even with the use of paper prototypes (such as the technique developed by the Nielsen Norman Group) that enables you to “create and test user interfaces quickly and cheaply.”
How many testers are needed? Nielsen’s study provided the ideal number of test subjects:
- Usability tests with 5 testers will uncover 85% of all usability problems in your website
- Usability tests with 15 testers will reveal almost 100% of all usability problems in your website
The ROI of Website Usability Testing
The goal of collecting usability feedback is to know your site’s areas of weakness, so you can go and do something about it before launching the final design.
- Websites that underwent usability optimization based on test findings enjoyed an 87% increase in conversion rates
- A 10-point improvement in usability translates to $1.4 billion increase in revenue
- A recent survey showed that by 2020, customer experience, which is closely associated with website usability, will be seen as the key brand differentiator, overtaking price and product.
Success Metrics and Benefits of Usability Testing
According to the performance and satisfaction targets determined by usability.gov, the following goals can be achieved by improvements made as a result of usability testing:
- Improved website performance by minimizing user errors and increasing ease of use and ease of learning.
- Increased exposure by boosting traffic size, number of (new and repeat) visitors, and visits from search.
- Improved credibility by elevating user satisfaction, trust and additional referral visits.
- Reduced resource burden by lowering the costs and time for development, maintenance, redesign, support, training and documentation.
- Increased sales with increased number of transactions, purchases and product sales.
How Do You Score?
Making your website useful, attractive and engaging requires serious investment and commitment. Fortunately, you can pass the usability test with flying colors with the help of experts. Increase the number of your unique visitors, boost your audience’s loyalty and enjoy a growing conversation rate with usability testing results as your guide.
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