Actionable Ways To Improve Website Usability

August 24, 2015

So, you’ve developed your site and done what you can to improve its search engine ranking, but what about website usability? You might have come across the term “website usability” in a number of online articles. You probably know the role it plays in making your site a success. A usable website can result in huge benefits for not only your site, but also for your business. Usability refers to developing your website for users to easily find what they’re looking for.


Benefits of Improving Website Usability

There are a number of ways in which better website usability can help your business. A study conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group found that redesigning your web usability strategy can improve your overall business metrics by 83%. Just this one number shows that improved usability can bring about a series of positive changes for your website. Yet, let’s take a look at a more detailed list about the rewards you can reap from improving website usability:


lower costs



  • It lowers costs – It’s true that you’ll need to make some investments in improving your website usability. At the same time, you can save a lot on redesign costs if you identify the usability problems early on. When your site provides the basic information that customers seek most, you’ll get fewer emails and calls related to customer service. This means can cut back on support costs and focus on other important aspects of your business. Kodak tested its usability and introduced simple support tools along with basic troubleshooting guides. Six months after this, visitor satisfaction increased significantly and there was a decrease in calls made to their support lines. In addition to helping you lower costs, improving your website usability can give you a significant return on investment (ROI). According to IBM, every £1 you invest in making usability improvements can yield returns anywhere from £10 to £100.


  • It Enhances Retention Rates – A lot of users leave websites immediately after visiting the homepage. Do you know why? The answer can be found through “usability testing.” Testing helps you find out why you’re unable to retain new users to your website. People usually leave a website within a few minutes of landing on a page due to:



    • Slow-loading homepages. They get impatient and leave when the page won’t load immediately.
    • Irrelevant information. If they find that the site cannot offer them the answers they want, they’ll obviously leave.
    • Requirement of plug-ins. Visitors may just not have the plug-in, such as Flash.
    • Distracting or annoying music that plays in the background as the site loads.

retention is equal to trust


Here’s a case study to drive home the point. A UK-based animal re-homing charity called Wood Green was struggling to increase their user engagement and retention rates. After an improvement to their site usability, they were able to see a sustainable growth in retention rates. The average time visitors spent on their site increased by 218%.



  • It Reduces Shopping Cart Abandonment – One of the biggest issues faced by eCommerce websites is shopping cart abandonment. This is when shoppers add items to their cart without checking out and actually making the purchase. Improving your website usability can greatly aid in tackling the issue. But, you’ll first need to identify the cause by running a usability test.

    asos case studyMajor clothing retailer ASOS simplified the checkout process for their customers and managed to reduce their abandonment rate significantly. They eliminated the need for users to create an account when checking out. This cut down their shopping cart abandonment rate to 50%.



  • It Improves Brand Image – Your company’s website is a reflection of your overall brand image. Visitors are more likely to have a good impression of your brand if they’ve had a pleasant user experience on your website. Otherwise, there’s a chance you’ll lose them to your competitor who has a more simplified or interactive website design. Broken links, site errors, misspellings, poor grammar, complex layouts, and overall bad content quality can turn off most site visitors.With key website usability changes, Orange improved user experience. The development team focused on the aspects that were important to customers. Using a proprietary algorithm, they created a customer benchmark and monitoring tool to collect helpful metrics. It helped in improving the overall quality of their brand image.


  • It Increases Profit and Sales – Since improving your usability helps lower costs, improve retention rate, reduce shopping cart abandonment, and enhance brand image, it’s no surprise that it positively impacts your profits. Usability could be just what the doctor ordered in boosting your bottom line.

    profit in sales
    This is clearly proven in the case of Campbell’s Scottish Terriers, an online retailer. After thorough research, the site was able to identify common customer complaints like browser compatibility. After fixing major issues, the site experienced a 100% increase in sales in comparison to the same time period the previous year.


How to Improve Website Usability

Now, the big question is “How do you improve your site’s usability?” The good news is that improving your website usability doesn’t require too much technical know-how. It can easily be accomplished if you make the right choices. Here are a few tips to help you make improvements on your usability:



  • Simplify Navigation

When it comes to improving usability, you need to think “simple”. Ensure that visitors can find the information they need in the easiest and quickest way possible. The key here is to develop a website that’s completely hassle-free to navigate. Then, users can take one look at the page and understand where they need to click. Organize your information into categories and use terms that your visitors would readily understand. Below is a great example of simple navigation from the conversion-rate-experts website.


simple navigation



  • Publish Quality Content

The quality of your content tells people a lot about your business. Aside from correct grammar and spelling usage, you must also pay attention to your content’s readability. Avoid adding unnecessary information, complicated vocabulary, and long sentences. Your content must get to the point and clearly tell visitors what they need to know. You could even test your content readability using the Readability Test Tool to know which writing improvements you should make.
The Readability Test Tool



  • Think Like Your Visitors

The best way to determine how you can improve your website usability is by looking at things from your visitors’ point of view. If you were visiting your website, would you enjoy reading the information? Would you be happy with the design? Does the design catch your eye? Is the information well-organized? Can you easily find the information that you’re looking for? Your site should deliver and satisfy the user’s requirements and make it easily accessible.



  • Allow Quick Scanning

Enhancing your site usability could be as easy as structuring the website for users to skim information. Readers usually skim over long blocks of text and become turned off to the website. It’s important that you make the first two words count in your titles and headings. Use sub-headers to break up text in a skimmable manner. Place relevant and important information towards the top of your articles. I recommend using the inverted pyramid writing style illustrated below.


quick scanning



  • Arrange Content Wisely

Of the time users spend on a web page, 80% is spent looking at information on the top of the page. Users also spend 69% of the time looking at the left side of the page. These statistics give us a clear idea as to where we should place the most sought-after information. Arrange your content accordingly to maximize the usability of your website.



  • Use Line Spacing

You may be surprised to find that the amount of spacing between text blocks can have a great impact on the readability of your content. Leaving no space between paragraphs makes your content look stuffed and cluttered. Visitors are less likely to read through the information, let alone comprehend it. Don’t be afraid to add margins and roomy spaces for content that flows beautifully.


effect of margins



  • Make Pages Accessible

It’s common knowledge that the number of people accessing websites through their mobile devices is increasing on a daily basis. Even in 2014, the number of searches on mobile devices jumped ahead of desktop searches. When improving the usability of your site, consider its accessibility across all devices, including smartphones and tablets. Will mobile users be able to read the texts easily? Are the buttons and images easy to see? Choosing a responsive web design is smart.



  • Invest in a Usability Test

Honestly, the best way to ensure visitors can easily access information and have a positive experience on your website is by running a usability test. This allows you to identify any major problems in the design, fix them, and track the results. The investment in usability test will pay off in spaces by increasing your company’s customer satisfaction and interaction.


Tools That Help Boost Usability

tools
Usability tools can be of great assistance in improving your website usability. They’re available to track users’ actions and behavior when roaming your site. This helps you understand what needs improvement for planning your next moves. Look at this splendid list of tools to improve site usability for picking the right fit.


Conclusion


Improving website usability could be your next best move in enhancing your site’s user experience and bringing in more customers. It makes users more likely to engage in your brand and stay on your site for retention. In turn, you can expect higher conversion rates. One minor investment in website usability testing could be the solution for smashing your end goals.

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