How to Evaluate the Usability of a Website

Posted on November 1, 2018

Your website is an important part of your business. Whether you’re a B2C or B2B company, most people will turn to the internet before making any decision. If your website isn’t easy to use, potential customers may turn to a competitor.

How do you evaluate the usability of a website? There are several things you need to consider, such as ease of use, user-friendliness and the overall design. We’ll go over everything you need to know about website usability to help you with your online presence.

What is Website Usability

usability of a website

Before we can get into how to evaluate the usability of a website, we need to define website usability. Generally speaking, website usability refers to a website’s user friendliness. This involves a lack of ambiguity, providing information clearly, and a presentation that makes sense.

In other words, it’s creating a website that’s easy to use. When we say easy to use, that means getting the users to do what you want. That means you need to know the purpose of your website.

Knowing the Purpose of Your Website

It sounds weird, but you need to know the purpose of your website. Why did you create it? What do you want your users to do when they reach your website?

You need to determine the purpose of your website before you can create a great user experience. If you want to focus on conversions, your website will look a lot different than a website trying to get someone to donate to a cause.

How Easy is the Website to Use

The entire goal of creating a website is to make it easy to provide information, a product or a service. Creating a website with a poor design or difficult to interpret can cause people to leave your website without them doing what you want.

What are things you need to do to make a website easy to use? First and foremost, you want to structure the website in a way that makes sense. A great place to start is the navigation bar (nav bar) of the website. Having a concise nav bar with 5-6 sections is the best route to go. These 5-6 sections should be the products and services you offer, a contact page and a blog.

Once you create the navigation bar, you need to structure the website pages in a way the flows. Thing of your website as a tree with branch. The bottom of the tree is your homepage and in branches in 5-6 difference directions which are the sections of your nav bar. From there, your pages should fit into those sections. This will make it easy to find anything on your website. The only exceptions would be an “about us” page, “privacy policy” or an “in the news” page.

You want the URLs of all the pages to flow well. An example of a great URL would be:

https://www.TheNameofYourWebsite.com/A-Nav-Section/Name-of-the-Page/

This structure makes it easy for users to directly type in the URL if they leave the page.

Responsiveness

website responsiveness

A huge part of website usability is making sure the it’s responsive at all screen resolutions. That means no matter the device you’re using, the content of the page displays properly. If you don’t style the website to be responsive with the website, the website will be unusable on mobile and tablets.

The reason this is so important is because many users will find your website from their phone rather than a desktop/laptop. With around 50% of the people getting to your website from a mobile device, you want to make sure they can actually use your website. Otherwise, that’s a lost opportunity.

No Links to 404 Errors

One of the worst users experiences is when you have a link on your website that takes you to a broken page. These are called 404 errors which means the page can’t be found. Typically, it’s because the website doesn’t exist or the content of the page has been moved to a new URL and the page was deleted.

Not only are 404 errors on your website bad for SEO, but it hurts your user experience as well. When a user find a broken page on your website, they’re not finding the information they’re looking for. They’ll probably leave your website and try and find it elsewhere rather than try and find it on your website.

Designed for Your Users

Not only do you need to keep in mind the purpose of your website, but you need to know who will be using your website. The users of your website will be a huge factor in the website’s design and how it’s used.

It starts with defining your target audience. Obvious, your target audience will change as they grow older and their lifestyles change. Creating a website with a great user experience requires you to follow the trends of your user base and catering your website to them.

What should you know about your target audience? Their age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, interests, income/social class and region where they live. Much of this isn’t important to what you sell, but the language and visuals you use. You want to cater to what they like and believe. Plus, you want to avoid anything that could offend your target audience causing them to avoid your brand.

Get Information About the Usability of Your Website

You may look at your website and think that it’s perfect. However, if users aren’t doing what you want, the site isn’t successful. Make sure to set goals in your Google Analytics account and keep an eye on the total number of goal conversions/the conversion rate. If it’s not where you believe it should be, you need to figure out what’s wrong with your website.

There are several ways you can see how users are interacting with your website and figure out where people are getting lost or leaving the site all together. We’ll give you a couple of ways you can track your users’ interactions on your website.

Heat Maps

Heat maps are a great way to see where users are clicking on your website and how far they’re scrolling through your page. They give you a map of your website that shows heat signatures on the most clicked areas of your page. You can follow the clicks and see where users are going on your website and determine if that meets your expectations. If they’re not doing what you want, you’ll have to change your websites’ user experience.

Another great feature offered by most heat maps is associated with how far users get down each page of your website. You’re given a map of your website that shows heat signatures of how many users see certain sections of each page. As you scroll down, the heat signature should get cooler. This gives you an idea of how much of each page on your site is being seen. It’s important to keep track of what information is found where on your page. Forms and conversion information should be found towards the top of your page because it will be seen by more users.

Hear From Your Users: Surveys

use surveys to learn more about your website

When in doubt, just ask your users what they think of your website. Create a survey using Survey Monkey asking questions about the user experience. Some example questions could be what they think about the design, if they found what they were looking for easily and how long they spent on your website.

Then, you’ll have to figure out how to distribute the survey. There are two ways of doing this. The first is creating a pop-up window that shows up when the user goes to leave the website. You can put a link to your survey in the pop-up and ask for a couple minutes of your time. While pop-up windows have a negative reputation, they tend to have a great goal conversion rate, especially on B2C websites.

You can also send an email with the survey which won’t survey all of the users, but will have even a better conversion rate than the pop-up window. When you receive a conversion on your website, make sure you collect an email address from the user. You can then set up a drip campaign in ? your email sender and have an automatic email sent to the user asking for their opinion of your website.

Website Usability is Important

While many people consider their website an afterthought, it should be in the forefront of your mind. Many people will discover your company and make very large decisions online. That’s why it’s important you put your best foot forward and make it easy to use your website.

Now that you know how to evaluate usability of a website, you can redesign your website to better cater your users. If web design isn’t something you’re comfortable with, contact SoMe Connect. We’re a premier digital marketing agency in Chicago that has experience in a wide variety of industries. Will out the form on our website to get started on your website redesign.