Website strategy: How usable is yours? – part 1

roads

A picture can paint a thousand words…

Words are free; it’s how you use them that can cost you.

Timeless phrases, all true, but…

…when it comes to your website, pictures and words are nothing without usability (UX).

A great website is the digital equivalent of walking into a boutique shop, having an attentive assistant carry your bags, bring you a glass of champagne, and ensuring you leave with exactly what you need. Plus maybe some things s you didn’t know you needed.

You might have Pulitzer prize-winning copy. A photo worthy of National Geographic’s photo of the year award. But if your website isn’t easy to use, you’re always going to finish runner-up.

Usability is the glue that holds your website together, converting customers, and attracting eyeballs.

And with so many connected devices, with so many different-sized screens, UX is only getting more important.

How to recognise a good website

Measuring website usability is like a science. You don’t need a BsC or a white coat, but you need a different approach to measuring visuals or text.

Let me explain.

vision

When it comes to visuals, you might not be a designer but you know the style you want.

You might not be a copywriter, but you can recognise powerful words when you read them.

But knowing a website’s usability? That’s a 64-million-dollar question.

After all, the only people who really know… are your users. And they probably have other things they’d rather do than give you feedback. And in any case, how would you know if they’re saying what they think, or what you want to hear?

Unless you’ve got a two-way mirror and plan to monitor how users interact, you need to think of alternatives.

A plan for launch

Gather five people you can trust to give you an honest opinion.

Get them to view your website for five seconds and ask their opinion. Did they understand what it offered? What do they remember about it? What emotions did they feel? Reassured? Roused? Revolted?

Get them to complete a transaction. For example, make a purchase, find your services and then contact you, or search for some information.  Watch how they interact with your website. Look for any signs they’re struggling or unsure of what to do or where to click.

You need to know how to get your users from where they start, to where they want to finish.

Otherwise your users end up making a wrong turn, or getting lost. Your website has to be the guide.

Talking of guides…

These are road signs. Do you know what they mean?

signs

If you’re a driver, then hopefully you do.

But if not, then you probably don’t.

How about these?

signs2

You don’t need to be a driver to know, or at least make a good guess.

Because alongside symbols, you have clues.

It’s the same with online.

Here’s a popular icon.

hamburger

This is called a hamburger, and signifies a menu. People who regularly use mobile devices will recognise it.

But what if your target audience aren’t regular mobile device users? You may need to test. For example by adding ‘menu’ underneath.

menu

Measuring success

Of course, after launch, you need to know if these changes are making a positive impact.

And that’s what we’ll explore in part 2

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