How Design improves websites user experience.
To realise how relevant is the impact of the website usability on our business is necessary to step back and reflect on the nowadays importance of the websites usage by companies.
Today websites play an extremely significant role in every business whether it’s large or small. However, studies have shown that 36% of small businesses haven’t a website.
If you’re part of those not yet convinced that even small business need a website, some studies have been conducted to better understand how customers interact with companies and their products/services.
Researches have shown that between 70-80% of people research a company online before visiting the small business or making a purchase with them.
Besides, studies from Stanford discovered that 75% of users, admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on its website.
These studies have shown how useful is for customers to have the possibility to make research before deal with companies and their products/services. By providing them all the needed information and making a good first impression through website, companies give a demonstration of meeting customer’s necessities. But that’s not all! This is also a chance to give customers, not only necessarily researched resources, but also other resources which can give them great value and carry back benefits to the company.
Now that we know how is important for every business to have a website, we must realize that unfortunately, this isn’t enough. We also see from the Stanford’ research the need that it’s a good one, because the way it’s judged has an’ highly impact on how the company is perceived in the complex by costumers.
Creating a high-quality website is not an easy thing to do. If you’ll be able to make a good job, this will definitely brings substantial vantages to your business, giving legitimacy, creating another marketing channel and giving the opportunity to collect data and leads, increasing in these ways profit and reputation. But if you’re not able to do that, in the best case, you’ll lose the possibility to exploit these significant outcomes.
It is essential to know that in the digital world, namely websites and web/mobile app interfaces, a remarkable element that contributes to creating quality as well as the design, is certainly the usability.
Chapter 1: What is usability and why is important
Usability is defined by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) like the level of easiness and satisfaction with which happen one interaction between human and instrument.
Intuitively, whit web usability we refer to the utility, organization, and navigability of the information contained into a website, for the final user. All these aspects contribute to the success in the achievement of the objectives of the website, allowing the users to have a great and useful experience with it, and also to convert them into non occasional visitors.
As well as it’s necessary to find costumer’s needs and to satisfy these in the development of new products and services, also in making usable a company’s web site is necessary to focus on the quality of the user experience (UX), putting user’ needs as the motivations of the web developers’ and designers’ commitments. Providing users what they need and giving them value through your website, your business is certainly going to receive benefits.
According to Forbes’s study conducted in 2018, there are several direct effects derived from bad usability of a website. Bad usability brings users to stop with the use of the site. It has been observed that the use will be stopped by 38 percent of users in the presence of an unattractive layout and also that the use will be stopped by 39 percent of users in the presence of images, pages, and contents that don’t load or load too slowly.
There are no reasons for a customer to keep engaging with a website that doesn’t work or badly works, letting him frustrate and without finding what is searching for. Since the number of websites is highly increased in the last years and so the competition between them, it’s easy to imagine how much is simple for costumers to quickly pass from one website that does not satisfy them to another one. According to Google, 61% of users are unlikely to revisit a site if they had trouble in the access and in the navigation and 40% prefer to visit a competitor site instead.
To quantify the quality of an user experience within a particular product, system or service, it’s necessary to observe some aspects before, during and after the use, such as the emotions, perceptions, and behaviours of the user. What does he do? What does he get? How does he feel?
These questions allow us to analyse and to understand what he’s searching for, if the website can make him find what he needs and how it makes him feel. Collecting these information by testing as we’ll see later, we’ll be able to improve the efficacy of our website and get better results.
Chapter 2: Factors of user experience in the use of a website
But which are exactly the factors that influence the experience on your website? To maximize the user experience on your website it’s necessary to correct manage the facets that bring users to be satisfied.
A website must be:
Useful: as already mentioned, it’s important for your website to be helpful to users. Most of the time, they are searching for some information or something else. Make it easy for them to find it out. If they are not searching for something in particular and maybe they are just there casually, then is the right chance to make them curious about what you can offer to them.
Usable: nowadays this is a diversification and success element in the actual market context, full of competitors and their websites. Users go fast, have few times and are disloyal so, it is essential to allow them to extract the value of your website easily, naturally and without having to think too much.
Findable: it’s fundamental to make your website navigable. If it contains lots of contents, it’s proper to add a research bar. This is essential for some kind of websites such as retail online stores that sell lots of different products. In order to help users finding what they need, you can also make a clear index of contents and separates these by categories.
Accessible: make your website disability-friendly figuring out their key obstacles and following the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG). This will give the possibility to people with disabilities to access on your website and exploit its value. Besides being ethically correct it also gives you the possibility to increase the traffic on your website.
Credible: there are many elements, in addition to the value and reliability of the contents, that confer to your website the needed credibility, such as the visual aspect, the loading speed of the pages, the organization of the contents and so on. You can increase your website credibility following the Stanford guideline for web credibility.
Valuable: websites must give value both to the users and both to the company. Understand if your users really receive value and especially if they really perceive it because otherwise, it is like there’s no value at all.
For a good management of the required properties, first of all, is necessary to have a clear idea of the website goals. There are a lot of different goals which can be achieved by your website: to increase sales, be an authoritative resource, improve customer service, reach leads, increase social share and so on. Establish it and plan the following objectives to achieve it, in that way you’ll be able to measure the success of your website.
Also, is highly important to have a clear idea of the value proposition of the company and how to communicate it through the website. Are you rightly communicating it? Are users reaching the message? These are some questions that need to have positive answers. It will be easier to figure out the best way to communicate the company’ value proposition taking into consideration the specific characteristics of the target.
Then it must be created an information architecture, identified the main categories and decided how to regroup contents and functionalities choosing the right copy to highlight the related contents. Publishing regularly new and fresh contents you’re encouraging your visitors to come back. Obviously, the more content or/and different targets of users there will be, the more will be difficult to manage all these factors. In these cases, will be necessary an additional commitment in order to ensure easy use and understand, and to fit more user’s mental models. For example, is necessary to maintain the same level of usability in a multilingual website, giving the same experience to every user, both on the page with the original language both in the others.
Chapter 3: Mobile usability
Another noteworthy aspect concerns the necessity to have a mobile friendly website, namely easy to use on a mobile device. In fact, the percentage of site visits through mobile devices, instead of desktops, is constantly growing in the years. In 2018, 58% of these, came from mobile devices. More than half!
Make sure your website is properly optimized for tablets and smartphones of all screens sizes and pay attention to the quantity and the organization of contents. To many contents badly organized let users have a bad experience. The text should be easily readable, links and elements easily clickable.
Users also expect a seamless experience with all types of devices.
There are some aspects that you must keep in mind to make your website mobile-friendly:
keep its speed in loading and navigation.
make contents simple, shorter and clear for the screen’ size.
don’t make users zoom in contents but instead set the right size.
add a search function and create simpler menu options.
Call to action
set a clear and well visible CTA.
Chapter 4: Test usability
Searching on the web is easily possible to find tools and methodologies that give us the possibility to test our website usability. In this way we can understand if it needs to be improved and exactly where.
Web designers should always test their own works. They have thought and worked so much on those that at the end it is very likely they have memorized everything about the project, and they may be overconfident about the fact that users will find what need.
Usability tests are direct observations of the interaction between a user and a digital service and can be executed during the development of the website or even when it is already being tested or in use.
With the analysis of user behaviour, while is navigating with the scope of finding something in particular, for example looking for certain information or a specific file download, it is possible to understand where user has difficulties and redesign some elements of the website.
To run a simple thought effective usability test isn’t necessary to have a lot of resources. According to Jakob Nielsen, an expert in the field of user experience, what is necessary is to recruit some users and to give them some tasks to prove how much it is easy for them to achieve these. It’s important to keep attention to our behaviours and words. For example, is essential to avoid users feel wrong and unable if they can’t easily complete the given tasks. They might report a lower level of found difficulties giving better results than the real.
By testing the usability it’s possible to obtain different benefits, for example:
- Asses if the performance meets the usability ’goals.
- Discover if and where users find out difficulties and issues in usability.
- Measuring the speed of the interaction.
- Defining a satisfaction scale of users ‘experience.
- Test and evaluate changes that could be able to improve the usability of the website.
Creating a website is simple and quick nowadays. There are a lot of resources online that can allow you to create your own site with few clicks and it’s also possible to choose a responsive theme that enables it to be adapted on mobile devices, desktops, and any other devices. These resources are extremely employed by a lot of people in search of the best solution in terms of budget and efforts. For this reason, their website ends up looking basic and similar and have the same usability’ problems, even if customized functions are offered.
However, if your objective is to create a really good website, able to reflects the importance and the value of your business and to give you all the promised benefits, these resources must be necessarily managed by experts in the field.
To have a tailored website to your business’ and customer’s needs and to make the most of it, it is necessary that behind the creation, development, and improvement there are good web designers and web developers.
It’s been demonstrated how much investments in design increased sales (by 41%) and that only 1 project out of 10 doesn’t bring profits back.
For demonstrating the importance of web usability many case studies have been conducted, showing positive ROI (return on investments) in usability investments.
By making good investment, relying and trusting on experts, it’s possible to extrapolate from your website all the value and advantages that it can ensure you, bringing value and increasing your business.