Web Usability | The Difference Between Average & Exceptional Web Design
Less than one person in every one hundred visitors to the average website will buy or take your desired action, be it a sale, email optin, RSS subscribe or contact request! Increasing this visitor-to-sale conversion rate is all about usability and implementing a simple conversion path, that takes your visitor by the hand from entry to exit, your Most Wanted Response.
Good usability is about 1) Becoming Your Customer and 2) Attention to Detail.
Become Your Customer.
Get inside your customers’ minds and be them. See, think and feel what they do when buying using your site and buying your product. It is about how your website should look based on its theme, colors, design, layout, etc, to make your browsers buyers want to spend time and money there. Get them to take action and give you your most wanted response. With regards design you essentially want something that is contemporary, clean, and inviting to your potential and target customers; often neutral is best with lots of background white space, a clean color, like a light grey/gray and 1 or 2 accent colors to give identity.
As an example, a website aimed at new mothers could use light blues, pinks and images of attractive babies. A website aimed at selling high-end, exclusive furniture might well use blacks, grays and white to demonstrate class, with guarantees and security logos to build trust and show that the website offers customers military strength security and that they are safe to spend here. In either case, use words and language that your target customer understands and uses.
Taking the time to fully understand your target customer will consequently dictate the look and feel of your site, especially relating to the features, layout, design, logo, colors and language used.
Attention to Detail.
Be detailed and specific, clean up typos and grammar. One spelling mistake can give the impression that you do not check things. If you cannot spell, or cannot be bothered to check your spelling, a customer will doubt that you can handle their credit card and personal details responsibly. These are subconscious thoughts and references that customers make.
Good Usability makes the Difference.
Usability includes everything from the way the graphics, images, text, navigation menus are used on the website. Prospects (potential customers) need a simple, clean path from entry (entering your website) to exit (having bought your product) without resistance or site elements that make them have to think or work out what to do.
Using poor quality website software will affect usability for you and for your customer. Problems include; a slow load time in your user’s browser, poorly laid out products, inferior search engine optimization features, all leading ultimately to an arduous visitor experience.
Good website software loads fast, has a great structure for the user so they can find your categories, pages and/or products easily, and is built so Google can find and index your pages and products with ease.
The days of having a simple 5-page brochure website with your company details and a few pictures are long gone. Your average website now generally has at least thirty pages plus, many over a thousand pages. These are big websites with lots of content and multiple images per page.
Yet, a surprisingly large number of businesses both large and small simply do not understand websites and their architecture. They launch websites that actually drive customers away because they are slow, cluttered and use complex navigational menus that you would need a college degree to understand.
However, you can easily make your website work exceptionally well. In fact, the most simple, basic strategies are often the most effective, but the most overlooked. Many of the latest software, web tools and website modules available offer make it easy for your site to be dynamic and interactive. They allow you to add more content, more easily, without having to call your web developer every time you need to make a simple tweak to the information on your site.
‘At a fundamental level you need to implement a 3 F Strategy: Your website must be Fast, Functional and Familiar!’
Most people go onto a website with a specific goal in mind – for example to read an article, sign up to a newsletter, subscribe to your RSS feed or buy a product. You have to help them accomplish that goal, and fast. People do not want to wait forever to negotiate their way through arty graphics or unfamiliar navigational menus or even worse, wait for Flash to load.
Many sites still have not taken this lesson on board; even a decade after some big name online websites and retailers went belly up. Pretty but ineffective websites with unnecessary Flash interfaces and areas that users never venture into are very common. In addition, even with broadband internet in millions of homes around the globe, many websites still take forever to download. Let’s say it again – you only have approximately 5–7 seconds to make them stick, or your prospects are gone!
‘User experience and interactivity is critical for your success on the web, as that’s all there is! This is the conversion process personified!’
Your website should also function like other successful sites. Therefore, if you design a new menu interface with buttons in unfamiliar places, your users may not know how, or simply not bother to learn how to use it and then leave your site. A user may admire a pretty site once, but they will not return nor make a purchase. In contrast, people will return to a 3 F site (‘Fast, Functional and Familiar’) repeatedly. Your 3 F site will generate sales, repeat traffic and increasing profits.
Word of Warning: The danger of the readily available and open source website features and modules is that they have in some instances brought needless complexity within the reach of anyone. This can result in the temptation to spend a lot of time adding them to your site, leading to a huge waste of time, energy and money.
‘As the Saying Goes: KISS = Keep it Simple St*pid!’