You may be reading this on your PC, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, but one thing is certain. You expected to be able to visit my website and navigate around it in a way that makes sense to YOU. And if its USABILITY is not what you expect and hope for, you will leave to look somewhere else.
So if you have a business website and you are reading this today, listen up for some great tips. Because if you want your visitors experience to be pleasant and successful for both of you, then you need to ensure your website is structured in such a way that the visitor understands its navigation, finds it user-friendly, and wants to stay and look around.
You may not have ever thought about it, but we are strange creatures.
Even though there are billions of us living on this planet, we all expect a personalised service wherever we go. We don’t want a multinational company serving over 7 billion other people in 196 countries (or is that 195 now?) around the world – we expect it to look after just us – when we want it, in the way we want it.
And we are no different when we jump on our preferred electronic Internet-enabled device and visit a company’s website. Whether we are looking for makeup, a new car, or the latest gaming console, we want, no we expect, a very personalised service which suits our individual taste.
And guess what?
If any company with either a digital presence or a bricks-and-mortar style business does not get that message loud and clear, they are probably losing more customers to their competitors than they realise.
The good news is that while we all expect a personalised shopping experience, experts tells us that when it comes to shopping online, most people are now accustomed to certain standards, and are happy to hang around if anything just feels ‘normal‘ to them.
Imagine if you started a new top-quality butchers shop in the local mall, but when it was designed you had no experience in setting up a new shop:
- your new customers come in looking for steak and can’t find it in the beef section because you placed it next to the pork chops
- other customers want to just browse what is on offer, but your lighting is so poor they cannot read your tiny labels on each tray
- and someone else thought the sign on the shop was advertising pet meat.
Do you think many of these people will stick around and buy from you? Probably not.
And yet, we sometimes think we can get away with a similar approach when setting up an online presence. Be warned: your very credibility is at stake if you launch a poorly designed website that frustrates your customers and sends them elsewhere.
In a nutshell, your website should be what visitors think it is going to be. It should look and feel how they expected it to when they either clicked on the link to bring them there, or when they typed your details into the search engine
Those visitors should be able to visit your website and find it EASY to use. They should be able to navigate around your site easily and without any time delay. The relevant buttons should be where they are expected to be, and the colours of the text and the background should make it easy and comfortable to read.
And regardless of whichever device a visitor is using, your website information should be responsive and readable to them.
Think about the frustration a visitor on a small smartphone might experience:
- beautiful but very large images take so long to appear they give up waiting
- they cannot read your very important announcement because a quarter of the text is off-screen
- they finish reading your product description and want to place an order but cannot find the ‘buy’ button
- they want to click backwards to the last page, but the normal back button is not where they expect it to be
- your logo when clicked does not return them to your home page.
Each of these factors should have been taken into account BEFORE launching your website so that all visitors can access your website easily and find the experience enjoyable.
We recently visited a site we were very interested in, only to find that the web page used a black background with bright blue text. It was near impossible to read and in the end we gave up and placed our order elsewhere.
Another site must have thought they were talking to winners of the nobel prize based upon the language used. We had to refer to the dictionary just to understand some of the words being used!
And yet another site lacked all sense of ‘normalcy’: there was no search box nor any place to leave comments, it had an awful music track playing in the background which started as soon as the page opened, and several links did not work when clicked on.
Believe me when I say we were not encouraged to stick around and explore any further.
So, if right now if you are either about to launch a new business website, or have an existing website that has never been tested for its usability, please speak to an expert to have it tested.
You will find that your visitors and customers appreciate the effort and become more loyal to your brand, and the cost of having it tested will more than be recouped through returning customers and referrals (all other things being equal of course).
So, the only real decision to be made is whether you have the skill, time or ability to check your own website, or whether you wish to call in the experts!
If you are looking for a professional to do the job (and in truth, this is our preference), then try typing ‘website usability testing‘ into your search engine, and check through the results. There are sure to be plenty of qualified and experienced experts to assist you.
If however, you prefer to do it yourself, there are any number of free and paid tools available to assist you such as:
- GTmetrix to analyse your website’s speed
- Spur to check and critique your web pages
- Whatusersdo to help you understand how your customers engage with your website
- Mouseflow which lets you see how visitors behave on your website.
And there are many, many more that you can check if you are a DIYer, and have the confidence to have a go. Please keep in mind though that all sites listed above are shown for example only and are not a recommendation.
The main point of course, is that one way or another, you check your website or have it checked for usability. There is no value in going through all the effort and cost of launching a new website, only for visitors to come, and never return.
I think you will agree that it just makes good business sense.
We hope you found ‘How and why you need to check your business website for usability‘ helpful.
Please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think, and please subscribe, if you haven’t already, so we can keep you updated in the future.
And if you are looking for other great posts to help you with your business or digital marketing, make sure you check out: ‘Understand your core business before setting marketing goals‘.
Living each adventure,
Christine and Trevor
ONLINE FASHION STORE
Empowering people to live a healthy, authentic and fulfilling, personal and business life.
Adelaide, South Australia.
DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informational purposes only and is based on Christine and Trevor’s own life experiences. No food featured on this site should ever be consumed or handled if known or suspected allergies exist. Nothing featured here should be taken as medical, professional or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult the appropriate professional before changing any routine or adopting any new procedure. We provide relevant links in each post to services or products of relevance to that topic. Many are unpaid links, while others may be affiliate links. They are included because of their relevance above all else.
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