How do you ensure good usability on your website?

It is extremely important that your users know what to do on your website and that they can find your products easily. In other words, you have to have good usability on your website so that you can offer an even better User Experience.

What is usability?

First things first, what exactly is good usability? Usability is, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience, a quality characteristic that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word “usability” also refers to methods for improving user-friendliness during the design process.

The 5 components of usability

Usability has 5 components: 

  1. Readability
    How easy is it for users to perform basic tasks when they first encounter the design?
  2. Efficiency
    How quickly can users perform tasks after they have learned the design?
  3. Memory
    When users return to the design after they have not used it for a while, how easily can they restore the skill?
  4. Errors
    How many errors do users make, how serious are these errors and how easily can they recover from these errors?
  5. Satisfaction
    How pleasant is it to use the design?

Usability = useful 

There are many other important quality attributes. An important one is the “utility”, which refers to the functionality of the design: does it do what the users need? Usability and utility are equally important and together determine whether something is useful: it doesn’t matter that something is easy if it doesn’t do what you want. It is also not good if the system can do what you want hypothetically, but you cannot let it happen because the user interface is too difficult. To study the usefulness of the new design, you can use the same research methods for users to improve usability.

How to ensure good usability on your website?

To know what your users are thinking you must talk to them and do research about them. There are many methods for collecting data and studying usability. The most useful is to take a closer look at the users (user tests), only then can you ensure good usability. To take a closer look at users, three steps you must consider.

  1. Ask questions at representative users, such as customers for an e-commerce site or company employees. Ask the users to perform representative tasks with the design.
  2. View what the users are doing, where they succeed and where they have problems with the user interface.
  3. Let the users do the talking. It is important to test users individually and have them solve problems themselves. If you help them or focus their attention on a specific part of the screen, the test results are affected.

To identify the main usage problems of a new design, it is usually sufficient to test 5 users. Instead of conducting a large, expensive study, it is better to perform many small tests and review the design between each test, so that you can resolve the usability deficiencies while you identify them. Iterative design is the best way to improve the quality of the User Experience. The more versions and interface ideas you test with users, the better. This way you collect the best data and you can achieve the best results with it. 

Listening to what people say is misleading: you have to see what they are doing. And this is hard to do in a large focus group. If you want to test the usability, it is therefore important to test one by one. To improve your usability, you can first fix the problems that your users are pointing out during the testing phase. So always keep in mind that your users are the ones who need to use the website. If the usability is not good enough you will lose sales and customers. This also means that good usability can provide more sales and a loyal customer base. 

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