Of all of the things that you could do to turn more of your online visitors into customers, it’s hard to think of a better strategy than simply sorting out those little problems that compromise your site’s usability.
Even a seemingly small website usability problem, after all, can be more than enough to prevent many people from proceeding with a purchase from your brand.
Why are usability tests so necessary at all?
As a website owner or marketer, you’re presumably intimately familiar with your site – more so than almost anyone else. Can’t you just do your own informal usability testing as you peruse your site?
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, because marketers can suffer from a little something called the ‘curse of knowledge’. This refers to a cognitive bias that prevents them from easily thinking about an issue from the perspective of a less-informed person.
The likelihood is that you spend so much time looking at your own site that you struggle to imagine what it would be like for someone to see your site for the first time.
Run a few usability tests, and you will soon come to appreciate how big the gap can be between you, the website owner, and the average visitor to your site. We aren’t just talking about users getting lost on your site or scratching their heads – they could be left so frustrated that they literally swear or even hit their keyboards.
But these ordinary users aren’t stupid – quite the opposite. If they want something, you create a website to satisfy their desire and they still can’t get what they want, it might just be you who is ‘stupid’...
The steps to ensure your usability tests bring useful results
The above cognitive bias is why you should design your site so that even the classic ‘moron in a hurry’ can use it. That way, even geniuses with a lot of free time to browse your site are likely to be thankful for its level of usability.
There are various ways you can recruit people to usability-test your site, including by turning to people from your site’s target audience, as well as those who have visited your site in the past. Even asking people who just happen to be nearby – a practice known as ‘hallway usability testing’ – can bring invaluable insights.
A robust quality-assurance (QA) process is essential before each of your website’s pages goes live. That’s why such resources as Smashing Magazine’s 45 useful web design checklists and questionnaires can be so crucial to your efforts to identify usability issues.
Getting your site’s usability right can be much trickier than immediately meets the eye. After all, you are barely likely to consciously notice a highly usable site, so it can be easy to overlook the solutions and techniques that will help to make your site more usable.
Nonetheless, by calling upon our own expertise in website design here at Piranha Designs, you can help to ensure that your new site delivers the best possible experience for every member of your target demographic.