Websites offer an efficient and convenient way of interacting with your customers. You can advertise your products, sell them, give descriptions and reviews and even answer the questions that your customers ask. But not all websites are created equal. There are big differences in the amount and quality of traffic that various websites get. On one end of the spectrum you have e-commerce giants like Amazon and on the other, you have small one person operations selling out of their home utilizing simple websites. Anywhere along this spectrum, you will see some websites are more successful than others, what is the difference that brings customers back to some websites and not others? Quite often, it is the usability of the website that is that difference.
Usability can be defined as the extent to which a website can be used by visitors to achieve intended tasks with efficiency and satisfaction.
The aim of every business person is to get more customers. When someone visits your website, you want to try your best to convert them into a customer. Quite often, it is the usability of a website that is the difference between a visitor becoming a customer and a visitor hitting the browser’s back arrow and going back to Google and continuing their search. The good news is that there are measures that you can take so that you can improve the usability of your website and improve your visitor conversion rate.
Improve your web site’s usability
To improve your web site’s usability, begin by reviewing your current website. Start by considering the compatibility of your website with your targeted audience. You should get to know your audience, their demographics and location. After knowing that, then you should assess your website and content and see whether it properly suits them.
You should know the objectives of your website. These are the reasons and the purposes that you had when creating your website. What is it for? Are you looking for people to sign up to your newsletter? Get a quote for a service? Buy a product? Does the current design help achieve those goals?
You should check your site’s strengths and weakness. You should know which pages fetch clients and are usually visited and which ones are almost dormant. Is this what you intend to happen? How does your site perform on mobile devices? Is it responsive or not? What’s the speed of the website when it loads? Is the navigation clear and easy to use? All of these are factors which can affect the usability of a website.
Get to know your audience
You should start by outlining the kind of people that your website is targeting. This depends on the kind of services and goods that you are offering. For instance, if your website is selling ripped jeans, obviously your target market will be a younger demographic. Or if your website is selling t-shirts with clever designs, your target audience will probably be a younger demographic as well. But, if you are selling life insurance plans, you will not be looking at that same demographic. This helps you to know the kind of content, language and designs that you will need to fit the target demographic.
Often the easiest and most effective way to process this data is to create personas for customer groups. Personas can be fictitious or real people that describe a specific customer or type of customer that is an important part of your customer base. Describe details about them, like age, occupation, technology savviness, and other factors.
Analyze your current offering and see if it is the right thing for your target demographic. Is this the right website for the personas you created? Look for opportunities to improve it to better serve the needs of your customers. Often there is a disconnect between what a business’s customer base would best be served by website wise and what a business has in place, this reduces the number of visitors that go on to become customers.
Improve the effectiveness of this exercise by talking with a sample group of customers to see if your website is meeting their needs, and if not, find out what you can be doing to improve the experience.
Utilize usability data
Checking usability data is a way to check some of the measurable and objective features of your website. Some firms spend a lot of money hiring a web design firm to create a website and fill it with content only to get shocked later when they find out that it is not performing according to expectations. Checking some of these stats will give you an idea how your website is performing right up front. For instance, you can use Google Page Speed to check how fast your website loads. Having a fast loading speed is essential or you will lose customers.
There are other tools you can use such as Google Analytics and Crazy Egg that help you to understand which pages people like most on your website and the ones that perform poorly. This information can help you make adjustments to the site to improve performance.
You can also set up live user testing of your website. Prepare a questionnaire that you share with a selected audience to get their feedback. Be careful when listening to their feedback, paying attention to details and reasons. Also, watch what they do. Usually, their actions give you more data than their answers to questions do.
Your website format
You should pay careful attention to how you format your website. It should be very user-friendly: every detail should be well presented. The colors that you use on your website should be in line with your brand and the products and services that you offer.
Your page layout should be designed in a way that it impresses the user right at first sight. The landing page should be well arranged. The graphics, charts and pictures should be in harmony with the content and have clear explanations and descriptions. It should be simply organized and the content should very easy to read and understand.
The content of your website, along with its formatting and design, matter to visitors and after landing on your site, in just a few seconds they will decide whether they trust your site or not. Trust is a crucial factor in determining if your website will turn visitors into customers. It also determines if a customer will quickly hit the back button on their browser and keep looking for a company they trust. You will want to make decisions that help enhance the trust that users feel when they visit your site.
When engaging the user, you should organize your content in a precise way, like using bullet points, so that it will be easy for them to read. You should write content that captures the mind of the reader. For instance, you can write it in the form of questions that works to help answer what the reader could be looking for. “Looking to save money on your car insurance?” etc.
If you have any forms on your website that the user has to fill in, they should be short and easy to fill in so that the user does not get discouraged. You can also split that form into steps, making it less intimidating. Your questions on the form should be brief and clear so that you can obtain the information that you want from the visitor. The best forms make the process obvious and easy. Include only the fields that need to be there.
The key to usability is a focus on helping users reach their goals; you will want to evaluate your website in light of how well it does that. Along with that, keep in mind that you want to design to build trust. The more trust you can build with the user, the more likely you are to turn a visitor into a customer.
Image: tablet with usability software word cloud