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Your Website Could be Hurting Your Business

Written By: Jared Vander Hook
Posted: 3/28/2013

Every organization should have a web strategy that includes Usability Testing. With over 2 Billion people using the Internet to access its 644 million websites, there are countless reasons why usability is valuable to your organization. This article will explain why your website's usability is important given current Internet use trends, the cost of bad usability, and how to improve your website's usability.  

What are people using the Internet for?

Research conducted by Pew Internet (a Pew Research Center project), found that the 10 most common uses of the Internet are to

  • Use a search engine to find information
  • Send or read e-mail
  • Look for info on a hobby or interest
  • Search for a map or driving directions
  • Check the weather
  • Look for health / medical info
  • Look for information about a service or product
  • Get news
  • Go online just for fun or to pass the time
  • Buy a product

NOTE: The bold face items are those that most likely relate to a broad cross-section of businesses, regardless of industry or niche.
See a complete list of Pew Internet's Trend Data

What do these Internet trends mean?

While this information might seem to suggest to focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), of equal importance is what happens once people are on your website. While SEO can get people to your site,  Usability is what keeps people on your site, and coming back for more. Furthermore, your website might be the only interaction some people have with your organization. Web usability is the difference between your website adding value to your business, versus costing your business.

What is Web Usability?

Web Usability is how easily a person can use your website for its intended purpose. This can be defined by 5 quality components - Learnability, Efficiency, Memorability, Errors and Satisfaction. Many factors impact your website's usability including Aesthetic, Layout, Information Architecture (IA), and Content.

The business costs of poor Usability

Your website represents your organization, and might even be the only interaction and/or point of reference that some people will ever have with your organization.  When people can't find what they are looking for on your site it not only has negative effects on your company's reputation, it can also cost you money. Here's how...

  1. People will leave (and not come back!) - If your website is not easy to use, visitors will struggle and most likely leave. With 644 Million Websites in existence, there are plenty of other choices. Don't give your customers reasons to choose your competitor.
  2. Bad customer experience - When a customer leaves your website unsatisfied it has similar effects as a customer walking out of your business or leaving a meeting unsatisfied, except on your website there's no way for you to know it occurred! This is why you must prevent it in the first place. Your website should provide that same customer experience your organization strives for in every other customer interaction.
  3. Overhead - If someone can't find what they need on your website they might be calling or emailing you to figure it out. While this is better than losing that customer to your competitor, it still costs your company time and resources to do what your website should be doing.

And don't forget your Intranet's Usability! If your company Intranet is difficult to use, employee productivity is wasted trying to figure it out. This time spent trying to use a difficult Intranet system is your company's money wasted.

Improve Usability with User Testing

Maybe you realize your website's usability is important, but you don't where to start? Usability Testing is the answer. During usability testing actual users are asked to perform predefined tasks on your website. The responses are recorded and analyzed to determine what the specific usability issues are and how best to resolve them.  

Determining Usability Issues

Usability's 5 quality components (learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors and satisfaction) are the basis for determining usability issues. Below are some of the main things to look for.

What to look for during a Usability Test:

  • Task success
  • How easy it was to complete a task
  • How long it took to complete a task
  • Errors
  • Whether they understand where they are on the site

Resolving Usability Issues

Finding a solution to a usability issue means understanding user patterns. Seeing how users find information on your website is important to  understanding their perception of the navigation and content on your website, and as a result will make finding a solution much more clear.

Don't leave your website's usability to chance. Conduct usability testing to reveal the insights your organization needs to ensure your website is an asset, not a detriment to your organization.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 3/28/2013 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments
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