Writers: Melody Lin and Shravan Kumar
Editors: Sravya Narahari, Aryan Sanan, Mike Mainella
Website usability is a term that refers to the ease at which a user can navigate an institution’s website to find their intended content. This rather intangible metric is crucial for businesses, as it holds a direct correlation with user experience and the method in which target audiences engage with the company’s message, products, or services. Website usability thereby pertains to how “user-friendly” a site is. Although usability is a criteria that is now applied to almost any technology, it is an especially vital component of advanced media such as the Internet. As digital marketing and technology continues to improve, designing and maintaining a clear, accessible, and navigable site is essential to retain or even acquiring target customers. In this blog, we will detail some elements of website usability and how your small business can best optimize your online presence in the future.
When customers can easily engage with the content and design of a website that is clear and up-to-date, it establishes credibility. Credibility is made up of several factors, including correct grammar, spelling, honesty, and accurate product information. Even the fonts used on the site convey the tone of your business’s online presence, for instance, “financial institutions may rely on fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial, as opposed to the more-casual Comic Sans and Matisse”.
A credible website also reflects a business’s professionalism. For example, Apple ensures the use of a consistent minimalist design on its site by mostly using neutral colors like black and white. Additionally, Apple publishes the latest information on their new product releases and services to drive sales through ease of customer viewing and ordering
Sites can often be the first or most common touchpoint consumers have with a company. Therefore, aesthetics and website display certainly play a role in creating a first impression. Error messages and broken links matter too. Customers also place a heavy emphasis on the ease of finding contact information, which helps build trust with a company for long-term interaction. The lack of access to phone numbers, email addresses, or messaging functions may make potential customers wary of interacting with a business and divulging any personal information. In addition, poor branding and disclosure of privacy or security policies of the online relationship (e.g., cookies and data monitoring) can hinder your business from connecting with your target audience.
Ultimately, as with all other business functions, the goal of having an easy-to-use site is to bolster customer satisfaction, drive revenue, and expand brand awareness to new customers. With the increased use of online platforms post-pandemic, customers value straightforward customization and intuitive online interactions more than ever before.
Websites can be optimized with the help of tools like heat maps and eye tracking to determine what actions customers are interested in, creating a more effective and time-efficient customer experience. Embedded hyperlinks, clear wording, and a straightforward purchasing process are all examples of things customers may not openly discuss, but subconsciously appreciate. Website usability has the potential to almost double the conversion rate of a specific action for a company. Aside from reputational benefits, an easily usable site carries significant technical advantages in the long run.
Website usability can help your business become more successful while also informing customers of your offerings through a strong online presence. The metric is very delicate, as visitors may not revisit the site if they have a bad experience, which poses the risk of lost revenues and sunk acquisition costs. However, if executed correctly, an easily usable site with a strong digital infrastructure has the potential to retain and attract customers for long periods of time. Maintaining this strong digital presence is essential for companies, especially as preferences change and technology evolves.