Web Usability – What Exactly Is It?
And Why Does It Matter So Much To My Business?
Web Usability. It sounds very simple. ‘It’s just how to use the Web, right? I already know how to do that.’ That’s not exactly right. In fact, Web Usability is the layout, construction, structure and navigation of your website. Does that sound simple now?
Web Usability – A Real World Comparison
You can compare a website to an actual store. Let’s say you walk into one of those big retailers, looking for a new baseball glove. Now, you’ve never been there before. So, you first need to find the Sporting Goods section. This store is huge. And with all the shelves and displays up front, you can’t see the layout of the remaining 80% of the space.
The store might have a guide/map up front for you to check out. Then again, if it’s the chain I have in mind, they probably don’t. Instead, you’re going to wander around looking for signs. You also might use past experience in stores to make an educated guess. For example, you probably would look for the Pharmacy in the same area as the medicine and vitamins. That’s where they usually put it.
Notice I didn’t say anything about asking someone who works there? That’s because it wouldn’t fit our example. Websites don’t have disgruntled slackers or underpaid clerks roaming around. Your sense of where you are and where what you want to go is dependent on the web designer. The hierarchy and site layout is created by them and used by you.
Easy To Use = Easy To Profit
The ease of site use by your visitors is the same as the visitors to our store. How easy is it to find different sections of the site? Is there an easily located sitemap for them to consult? Do they have a sense of where they are in the site and how to go back to a page they visited before? Without using the browser ‘Back’ arrow?
A frustrated customer might keep going back to the ‘real’ store in our example just because they’re the only game in town. Or they have the best price. But those advantages are few and far between on the Web. Chances are there is a viable competitor only a click or 2 away ready to take your frustrated visitors . And people do leave web sites when they get frustrated.
In a nutshell, Web Usability is making your site easily navigable, understandable and intuitive. It’s marketing, whether you realize it or not. Why? Because it’s a part of your image, your presentation, your place in the mind of the prospect. That’s why it’s so crucial to success. Especially online, where you face a world of competition. Keep your visitors on your site and you’ll keep their business there, too. Now, that is simple.
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Article written by Jonathan Cook