You have probably already heard the phrase “web usability,” moreover, perhaps you already know as well that it somehow affects a website conversion and can make your site profitable. But what is usability in particular and how exactly can it improve your website? Well, this is something we are going to figure out today. So fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Web Usability in Details
Web usability is the application of usability principles in areas where web browsing can be seen as a general paradigm for building a GUI (graphical user interface). It is an approach developed to make websites easy to use for the end-user. In other words, web usability is aimed to make a site easy to navigate, so anybody can quickly find all the necessary information or products on a particular website. Ideally, the user should be able to intuitively figure out how to navigate a web page, which basically means that no initial training or special skills should be required to surf the web pages.
In terms of e-commerce websites, the meaning of web usability has narrowed to efficiency: launching sales and/or performing other operations that are valuable to the business. Usability became some sort of a big concern in the early two-thousands when many e-commerce sites failed. In the early 90’s, many developers believed that graphic design was a compulsory part of the site for successful e-business, which was partly true. At the same time, the pioneers of the web usability approach believed otherwise. They advocated the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle, which proved to be rather effective in focusing users’ attention on the site content.
- Provide the user with clear and concise information;
- Give users the choice in the most obvious way;
- Eliminate any ambiguity about the consequences of the action (e.g. button / delete / purchase);
- Placing important elements in the appropriate area on a web page or web application.
So as you can see, usability, in general, is the very thing that makes any site simple in use.
Since smartphones and other mobile devices have become a crucial part of our lives, developers ran into a problem of mobile usability. Basically, it is the same thing as regular web usability, the only difference is the fact that mobile one has to ensure a site is easy to navigate on a small, vertical screen. Thus, the notion of mobile friendly websites appeared.
In fact, mobile usability is one of the biggest concerns of contemporary developers simply because many people prefer their phones or tablets over laptops when it comes to online shopping, reading news, or just surfing the internet. Besides, in recent years, mobile applications have literally turned the world upside down. Nowadays, we can find any kind of app from games to shopping applications in the App Store and Play Market and all these apps are founded on the principles of usability.
Criteria of Web Usability
Certainly, there are some ultimate rules that one has to follow in order to make a site easy to navigate and user friendly. So let us take a look at Jakob Nielsen’s 10 heuristics:
- Visibility of system status – a system should notify the users that people only can make the right decisions.
- Match between system and the real world – the language a system uses has to be similar to users’ one.
- User control and freedom – the system must have a so-called “emergency exit” in order to allow users to leave a website without any issues.
- Consistency and standards – the users ought to know that various words, situations, or actions might mean the same thing.
- Error prevention – the system’s design has to be ready to prevent any problems or errors.
- Recognition rather than recall – all the instructions about the system usability ought to be always available and visible.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use – both experienced and inexperienced users have to be able to work fast.
- Aesthetic and minimalist design – the design of the system must be simple and contain only relevant information.
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors – all the error messages have to be clear and understandable.
- Help and documentation – any documentation must be accessible and relevant.
Website Conversion + Usability = ?
It goes without saying that web usability directly influences website conversion, but before figuring out in what particular way, let’s see what conversion is.
Well, to cut long story short, website conversion is pretty much your site’s success rate. As a matter of fact, it can be different for various sites. While for some websites it is social media shares or newsletter subscriptions, for other ones it’s the number of users who viewed a product or purchased anything. In general, conversion is understood by the number of monthly views a site has. So basically, it’s all about the popularity.
As a matter of fact, there are many ways to make your website popular and increase its traffic, so if you are interested in that (and you probably are), you can check out this video guide. Well, website usability is definitely one of the sure ways to bring your website to the top. Why? Let’s imagine a situation. You are going to buy something in an online store, you’ve already put that item you want to purchase in a shopping cart, but then you can’t find a button that will open your cart and lead you to the check out page. So what do you do then? Obviously, you’ll get that item from an online store with user friendly interface.
Thus, without any further explanations, I daresay that website conversion + usability = success.
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In conclusion, it has to be said that usability does matter for pretty much all types of modern sites as well as mobile applications. Besides, it makes our online shopping experience easier and surfing the internet generally better. Certainly, it affects websites’ conversion rates and can significantly improve your site’s profits. So make sure that your site is easy to navigate and if it’s not, check some fully responsive themes at MasterBundles.