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Website Usability: Make Your Site Easier to Use – Part 1

March 26, 2006

That is the definition of Web Usability, plain and simple. If my site is easy to find information on then people will use it for longer periods of time. Conversely If my site is hard to use, people will use it less. A site that is intuitive to the user will exhibit proportionally greater conversion rates of traffic to sales or leads. I have personal experience with the dangers of poor usability since Avalanche creates and operates commercial sites (so long as they do not compete with our client’s markets). I had a site within a particular sports niche and received several emails stating that my site was extremely difficult to use. Although my ego was a bit bruised, I checked the website and indeed found they were correct. I was looking at the site from my informed-though-limited perspective. I forget sometimes that I spend all day on the Internet. Finding information on the web is intuitive to me through extensive experience. My biggest regret from this was that I wonder how many customers thought “This site is hard to use,” but didn’t contact me. Very few people take the time to email complaints, so I imagine I flushed a fair chunk of change by not conducting usability tests. Perhaps your site was created without the input of the end users. Sure, we might have some people in the company test it, but sometimes their opinions are colored by the need for approval, or from fear of retribution. That may not happen, but it still exists. Remember, the user is our goal. They are the one purchasing our products, so for this reason their opinions are the only ones that matter. We find these opinions by conducting usability testing. We have them perform various tasks, along with unstructured times where we review how easily they can perform tasks and find information on our site. Usability testing can have enormous impact on our conversion rates when conducted correctly, and the results are applied back into our site.

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