Mon 7 May 2012
Website usability is a general approach to creating a clear, comprehensive website that is user-friendly. The usability of a site, its overall layout and design, as well as the website navigation, each play an important role in how the e-commerce site performs. In fact, sites today are utilizing complex technology to ensure that the end-users' demands are met and to make their experience on the site more enjoyable.
In order to identify the success of your website's usability you must test it. The tester will factor in his or her intuition, observation, user feedback, and qualitative measurement in the testing process. However, there are some quantitative measures that can be taken to check the usability of the site as well. There are a few important factors that need to be stressed upon in any website usability test. You should concentrate on practical strategies for optimizing these aspects. Irrespective of the type of site you have, these factors will play an important role in the evaluation.
Website Usability Tip #1: Users achieving their objective in an efficient manner
When someone comes to your site, you would want them to achieve their objective in the most efficient manner possible. The first thing that you need to do for this is figure out what the main user tasks on your site are. If you have a blog site, reading blogs, finding old posts and leaving comments are the most important tasks. You need to analyze the performance of the core tasks based on the following factors - intuitiveness, ease of learning, fault tolerance, preciseness, ease of remembering, and affordance.
- Ease of learning refers to how easily a task can be performed by the user. You should see whether or not the complex tasks are accompanied by hints, tool tips, or in-line tips.
- Intuitiveness refers to how obvious a task is.
- Fault tolerance is the time taken for the user to recover if a mistake is made.
- Preciseness refers to how prone the tasks are to errors.
- Affordance refers to how evident the function of a button or a link is.
- Ease of remembering is how easily a user can repeat the task from memory.
Evaluating how the different tasks can be performed based on these factors is not very easy. The first problem is that the method used by different users, to perform these tasks, may vary greatly. Also, you will need to create criteria for defining success in these tasks. The best method to conduct task analysis is through remote user testing. Remote user testing involves testing the site irrespective of the users' location. This process helps you in saving money that would have gone in searching for participants, arranging equipment and booking a location.
Website Usability Tip #2: Readability
Content plays a very crucial role for any website. Even in the case of mobile applications, which do not lay as much stress on content like blogs, the interface needs to be comprehensible. If the content and interface on a site is not easily readable then it will prove to be an obstruction for the user in performing a task.
The first thing you need to see is the ease of comprehension. The content should be easy to understand and the words used should not be too complex for an average internet user. You should also look at the conciseness of the sentences and paragraphs as well. Legibility should also be taken into account and the font type, font size and the contrast between the background and the text should be checked. You should also ensure that users are able to enjoy the content. Information should be of top quality and accurate. Also, the spacing between lines and the color should not make reading for a long duration stressful.
Website Usability Tip #3: Website navigation
User of your site should be able to easily move through the various pages in your site. The three aspects you should keep in mind while testing the navigation of your site are - ease of searching, information architecture, and the efficiency.
- The user should not have any difficulty in finding content. Search boxes, links, archived pages, and other navigational features that help in finding the relevant web pages are important for this.
- The architecture aspect will focus on the construction of navigational features like menus, widgets and search boxes. Also, you will have to analyze the categorization and organization of web pages.
- When analyzing the efficiency, you should look at how many clicks it takes to reach a particular page.
There are multiple tools to help you with evaluating your site's usability. It is recommended that you do this before the site is launched.
Website Usability Tip #4: Page loading speed
The faster a site performs, the easier it will be for the user to perform the desired tasks. There are three factors that you should look at when analyzing the speed of your site: the size of the web pages, the response time, and code quality. Note the time taken for loading an entire page along with the file size of the page. Pages that include large files, such as images, can greatly affect a page's load time causing drastic delays. Also, the best web development practices should be used for keeping the code clean.
These are some of the most important aspects when it comes to testing the usability of a website. Combining these steps with qualitative measurements will help you develop a user-friendly website.