OK, we know you are busy and don’t have much time for this sort of stuff, but you still need to know the basics of usability if you want your website to be a success.

Usability 101: The definition of usability is a quality attribute that measures how user friendly interfaces are to use and navigate. Usability can also refer to methods of improvement during the website design process.

Why should you care? You have a website up, right? Isn’t that good enough? Well, no. Web customers have a notoriously short attention span, so if your website is hard on the eye, difficult to understand, hard to navigate or contains confusing links that direct visitors in the wrong direction, then you have already lost that customer even before they get to their desired product or service.

What you need to do is to go and visit your website from the point of view of a potential new customer. Imagine you have never seen the site before, and ask yourself some hard questions:

How easy is it for new users to understand your design the first time they arrive on your site?
Once a visitor has learned the design, how fast and easy is it for them to navigate to their desired information?
How memorable is your site – how easy is it for returning customers to remember where they need to go to get their information or repeat order?
How many wrong turns to visitors make before arriving at their desired destination, and how easy is it for them to navigate back on to the right track?
Customer satisfaction: How much pleasure do visitors get from using your chosen web design?
Overall: Does your website do what your visitors want it to do?

KISS-ability or Keep It Simple Stupid, will always be the right way to approach your website design and layout. Believe me, you are not impressing anyone by having a flashy and intellectual looking website – no one likes a show-off! However, it doesn’t matter how simple you make your site if it doesn’t get you what you want.

Usability and utility work together to make your website something useful. Utility means the ability to provide the features that you need, and usability is about how easy and pleasant it is to use these features. Usability + utility = useful!

Good site usability is necessary for survival on the internet. It can mean the difference between life and death for your company website. If you site is difficult to use, your visitors will leave for a competitors site where their web experience will be far more pleasant. If your homepage fails to give your visitors the correct information, or they have to dig around to find it, they will leave. If they can get to the information the need easily, but that information is confusing or doesn’t answer their questions, they will leave. No potential customer is going to spend time figuring out your website when there are plenty of others to choose from. Leaving is their first line of defence when they don’t like something.

Remember, if a visitor cannot easily find the product, service or information they are looking for, they cannot buy it either!