What Is Usability?

Getting traffic to your website is important. But even more important is knowing what to do with the traffic after you get it. For business websites, what you want the people visiting your website (the traffic) to do is become a customer.

Converting the traffic into customers is no easy task. The conversion process involves many steps. Those steps include your website design and content but also include bigger marketing and sales questions, such as messaging, branding. Plus, you have to have a product that people want to buy. With all of those steps involved, many businesses miss one key step on their website: usability.

What Is Usability? The Three Key Questions

Put simply, usability is the process of making it easier for the people visiting your website to use your website. Remember, usability is design, though usability does involve the website design. A website with an outdated or ugly design can actually be easier to use than a modern-looking design.

Instead of thinking about usability as design, think about usability as answering three main questions people ask when using your website:

1. Who are you (or what is your business)?
2. Why are you the right company to provide this service or product?
3. What am I, the visitor to your website, supposed to do now that I am here?

In other words, you have to tell the visitor what you do, tell the visitor why you do it best and tell the visitor what to do next. And you need to do all three of those things as quickly and simply as possible.

Let’s say, for example, that your business sells vacation packages to Iceland and you want people visiting your website to call you to learn more about those vacation packages. Your website needs to do more than show pretty pictures of Iceland (that would be design).

In order to be a usable website, your website need to clearly explain that you sell vacation packages to Iceland (question 1), explain the advantages of your vacation packages compared to every other competitor (question 2) and make it easy for visitors to find your phone number (question 3).

How Do You Know If Your Website Is Usable? Measuring & Testing

The problem is, every business thinks their website is usable. After all, the staff at that company can use the company’s website. Therefore, everyone must be able to as well. Unfortunately, this line of though plagues too many websites and keeps websites from reaching their full potential.

At QW Consulting, we firmly believe that your opinion of your website really doesn’t matter (and our opinion too). Instead of relying on opinions, you need objective data that helps you understand if your website is easy to use. In other words, you can only know what the data tells you.

That means true usability is about measuring those three questions. Are you communicating who you are? Are you showing why you are the best company to buy this product/service from? Are you clearly explaining what people need to do when they are on your website? If you aren’t measuring the numbers required to answer these questions, then there is no way to know for certain if your website is usable.

Once you begin measuring these numbers, you then need to test ways to improve the numbers. Is there a better way to explain who you are? Is there a better way to show why you are the best company to work with? Can you get more visitors to do whatever it is you want them to do?

For help answering these questions, or to learn more about how to improve your website’s usability, please contact QW Consulting.