Why Website Usability Is Essential to UX Design

  • Date Published
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  • Reading Time 9-Minute Read

A few simple usability tweaks can greatly improve the user experience of your website and help you increase engagement and conversions.

Why Website Usability Is Important

Fairly early on in any conversation with a new client, I bring up the subject of website usability. And I am always surprised how few business owners actually focus on how their target audience will actually use their website. That actually works against their business objectives. Website usability is essential if you want to build a user-friendly website.

Most likely you have encountered websites that were informational, but difficult to navigate or even explore. This type of site is commonly built by the business owner with only their own business in mind. The site is simply designed to deliver information about the business, and the product or service it provides. This provides knowledge but no actual engagement, excitement or use to the intended audience. And frequently it does not consider functional aspects such as page speed, information flow, and functionality.

Enter User Experience Design

This is where UX design comes in. With a clear focus on the target or end user, user experience design determines your audience’s needs and how they expect your website to look, feel and function. UX design elements go far beyond the visual design.

They include everything a user encounters when they visit a website, from navigation, content, imagery, calls to action, interactivity, forms and so on. Analyzing and assessing how well these elements work for any specific user is critical to ensuring a website is successful and provides valuable insight into the site’s efficiency and ultimate usability.

What Is Website Usability

Website usability replaced the outdated term “user-friendly” from the early 1990s. Today we look at any product, including a website or e-commerce store, in many different ways. We consider the actual design, as in how it appeals to the visual sensibilities of the end-user. We also look at the effort it takes the user to perform certain tasks, such as finding a product or signing up for a newsletter. Website usability is the determination of how much joy or frustration website users experience, and how easy or difficult it was for them to interact with the site.

The Impact of Website Usability on User Experience

Website usability itself is an essential component of UX design. As I mentioned above, it refers to the ease and efficiency in which a user can access or navigate a website or e-commerce store. In many ways, website usability is the most important aspect of a website that is not seen, affecting everything from SEO to site speed.

As the digital landscape becomes increasingly complex and competitive, user experience and website usability are two of the most important aspects of ensuring the success of any digital presence. It ultimately is the determining factor of the overall health of a business or product brand.

Some of the most common website usability concerns we hear from our clients include: “Why is our bounce rate so high?”, “Why are users complaining that our site is hard to navigate?” or “Why is our cart abandonment rate so high?” Yes, these types of issues are very frustrating, and they can really hurt your business and your bottom line! But they can usually be fixed simply by improving the user experience you provide, starting with your website usability.

Website Usability in Action

Consumer Experience

Good website usability is a critical element of your consumer experience. Simply put, your consumer experience is the digital representation of your company’s voice and vision. And consumer experience is nonexistent without website usability. When usability strategies such as user persona development and usability testing are leveraged, a company can better understand their customers’ needs and create strategies to achieve them.

Testing for website usability can take many forms. It should always be scaled for the product or service it is supporting. Participants are typically asked to journey through the entire or specific areas of the experience, attempting to accomplish the tasks set out by the test. Website usability tests can and should be timed, monitored and recorded for future analysis and optimization.

Optimized Conversions

Website usability comes down to analysis, design, and implementation. Getting to know the inner workings of your user personas, your customer’s journey of conversion, and your business goals is a starting point. By implementing and leveraging a better user experience design process, website usability has the potential to forge more effective relationships between prospective and current customers as well as internal stakeholders.

Ensuring that visual and contextual cues are at a user’s fingertips is a core component of website usability. There’s no better way to deliver a better user experience than optimized calls to action (CTAs). In fact, according to Search Engine Journal, the easiest way to increase your website conversions is to make things as simple as possible.

This means that a business can gain exponential engagement, not to mention revenue, just by providing a visual cue for a user to find what they are looking for easily. With a few website usability tweaks, any company can increase online and offline revenue drastically.

Website Accessibility

Next, let’s focus on website accessibility. In 2019 it is essential that your website meets the user expectations and is accessible to all users. Enabling people with diverse abilities to not only access but perceive, navigate and interact with the website is a win all around. From both a technical and physical aspect, accessibility is required for many industries and is fast becoming a chosen feature for product brands and businesses identifying underserved but impactful audiences.

Website usability features include screen readers, magnifiers, voice-recognition software for user-generated content, alt text and more. Additionally, website accessibility can be taken even further by strategizing and implementing compliance best practices. For example, you could create an understandable and robust overview of accessibility via a site map.

Brand Positioning

Website usability is essential for gaining the trust of your target audience. Along with outdated aesthetics, poor usability on a website will negatively affect the reputation of a company. The effects are far-reaching and can easily impact the bottom line of any business or product brand.

As part of building an effective brand strategy, make sure that your website images are high-resolution, and your copywriting is strong and engaging. Delivering an optimized user experience can elevate overall brand image and voice and lend a positive association with the brand that is essential to retaining or gaining market leadership.

Internal Productivity

Up to now I only focused on the external user, your website visitor or mobile consumer. But what about the website usability required or expected by your own internal users? Many business owners are so concerned about how their online presence will support their business objectives. As a result, they completely forget about the effort required to actually update and maintain their website.

From your content management system (CMS) to admin dashboards, easy-to-use, easy-to-learn, and simple-to-update systems are essential. For this reason alone, I recommend you consider getting a WordPress business website. This will provide your internal team with a user-friendly interface. This will allow them to complete tasks in less time and update content on a more regular basis.

The Website Usability Take Away

Website usability refers to how easily a user interacts with a website or product. It comes under the heading of UX design but is not limited to user experience design. For improved website usability designers have to pay attention to these three essential aspects:

  • Users should find it easy and become proficient when using a design interface.
  • Website visitors should be able to achieve their goals easily by using that design.
  • They should be able to learn the interface easily, so that return visits are just as, if not more, easy.

You must analyze your entire online presence when you determine usability. Take into account everything from the accessibility and effectiveness of your website content to credibility and trustworthiness. That means thinking ahead. Who are your users? What goals are they trying to accomplish on your site? What action do you want them to take? Which obstacles are they likely to encounter, and how will they overcome them?

A Few More Things to Consider

You also should consider the (sometimes harsh) realities of the Internet. Finding reliable website hosting is crucial. This not only affects your page load speed but adds an extra layer of website security. Make sure your website is mobile-first and provides the best possible user experience for mobile consumers. If you have an online store there are a few additional considerations. Visual factors, including your color scheme and content formatting, are important as well. You must focus on usability before a flashy or cutting-edge design.

Finally, test, test, and test some more. A plethora of website usability tools exist. Never underestimate the value of testing from an early stage. By working out where users click, for example, you’ll be well on track to learning their ways and how usable your site is. By following best practices throughout the UX design process, the ideal user experience can deliver increased brand satisfaction and a better bottom line to the business it supports. And we are here to help you do just that.

Not Sure How to Make Website Usability Work for You?

Our innovative mobile-first web design team can help you develop just about any type of website. We are experts at carefully crafting custom mobile-friendly websites to meet (almost) any budget. From designing new WordPress websites, redesigning or updating an existing website, building responsive e-commerce websites to creating a multilingual online presence for your business we work directly with the client to prepare them for the ever more demanding mobile consumer.

And if you are still not sure how you can improve your website usability, or why you should, don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best way to improve website usability on your website or e-commerce store. That is one of our specialties, after all!

We Can Help You with Website Usability

Did you focus on website usability on your website? Is that helping you increase productivity, user satisfaction, and ultimately conversions? Or are you experiencing website usability issues or shortcomings? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!

Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!

By Gregor Schmidt
Co-Founder / CXO