Chances are we’ve all encountered websites that may be informational but wouldn’t be described as easy to navigate or even pleasing to journey through. Built with the business in mind, the site is designed to deliver information about the brand or service it supports. This provides knowledge but no real engagement, excitement or use to the audience, let alone attention to functional aspects like speed, flow and function.
Enter user experience design. With a clear focus on the user, UX design seeks to unlock the inner workings of an audience’s needs and how they expect a website to function, look and feel. These elements go far beyond the visual design, including all touch points a user encounters when they visit a website — from navigation, content, imagery, calls to action, interactivity, forms and the list goes on. Analyzing and assessing how well these assets work for the specific user is critical to ensuring a website is successful and provides valuable insight into the site’s efficiency and ultimate usability.
The Impact Of Usability On User Experience
Usability itself is a highly user-centered component of UX design, referring to the ease and efficiency in which a user can access or navigate a platform, product or website. In many ways, usability is the most important aspect of a website that is not seen, affecting everything from SEO to site speed.
As the landscape of the digital environment becomes increasingly complex, user experience and web usability have become two of the most important aspects of ensuring the success of a digital product, website or app — even the overall health of a brand or business.
As a creative team specializing in UX strategies, clients worldwide engage our team to mitigate problems related to an already up-and-running site. Many of the comments include: “Why are my abandon rates so high?” or “Why am I getting complaints that a user can’t find something on the site?” While these issues are frustrating, they are all too common and can be resolved with user experience strategies and usability implementations.
In a recent report from the Interaction Design Foundation, when global computer security software company MacAfee began “integrating usability testing to learn more about its customers and their needs, the company saved over 90% in support expense costs.”
Usability In Action
Web accessibility is a big deal these days, and for good reason: inclusion. 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 brands and businesses identifying underserved but impactful audiences.
Features include screen readers, magnifiers, voice-recognition software for user-generated content, alt text and more. Additionally, accessibility can be taken a step further by strategizing and implementing compliance best practices. For example, you could create an understandable and robust overview of accessibility via a site map.
Customer Experience And Testing
Good usability is essentially a mission-critical element of customer experience (CX). Acting as the digital representation of a company’s voice and vision, customer experience is nonexistent without 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 usability can take many forms, and 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. Usability tests can and should be timed, monitored and recorded for future analysis and optimization.
Our agency typically kicks off a usability strategy by reviewing goals to direct the analysis. Questions surrounding goals can include: “Can a user easily find the product they are looking for?” or “Are the calls to action effective?” These activities can create value for both the internal team to gain knowledge about their user and deliver an optimal experience to the end consumer.
Usability is one of the main keys to gaining the trust of a user and the marketplace as a whole. Along with outdated aesthetics, poor usability on a website can negatively affect the reputation of a company. The effects are far-reaching and can easily impact the bottom line of a brand.
Ensure images are high-resolution and your copywriting is strong and engaging. Delivering an optimized user experience can elevate overall brand perception and lend a positive association with the brand that is essential to retaining or gaining market leadership.
From content management systems to internal portals, easy-to-use, quick-to-learn and simple-to-update systems are a valuable aspect of management and training. We’ve found that employees who engage with a more usable interface are more likely to experience job satisfaction, complete tasks in less time and update content on a more regular basis.
Ensuring that visual and contextual cues are at a user’s fingertips is a core component of usability, and there’s no better vehicle to deliver a usable experience than the call to action (CTA). In fact, according to research, emails with a single call to action increased clicks 371% while increasing sales by a staggering 1,617%. 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 usability tweaks, a company can increase its business drastically.
At its core, usability comes down to analysis, design and implementation. Getting to know the inner workings of the user personas, customer journey and company goals is a starting point. By implementing and leveraging a user experience design process, website usability has the potential to forge more effective relationships between prospective and current customers as well as internal stakeholders.
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.