The emergence of the information age and e-commerce has forced businesses to upgrade their presence digitally. While mobile, web and PWA apps are becoming the means of reaching new customers, websites are still the foundational building blocks of locating any business online. Gone are the days when your business was restricted only to a particular region or locality. Local businesses are investing in building a website for themselve to reach a wider digital audience. And Website Usability Testing comes in handy to ensure that the websites are user friendly and easy to navigate.
Business owners now understand the value of being online and have started to build their online presence by creating a website. However, some websites are not that great or user friendly or compatible, possibly because of various reasons such as page loading delays, User interface, navigational issues, etc.In this blog we will deep dive into understanding these issues and see how we can resolve them by introducing Website Usability Testing.
What is Website Usability?
Now, what do we mean by Website Usability? In simple terms Website Usability refers to the experience that a user goes through when he/she uses a website. Web Usability tests include a lot of elements such as website navigation, page loading, usage of image and graphics, content placement, scrolling, and all the factors which help with or affect the ease of using a website. Let’s look at some of the building blocks that make a website user-friendly and easy to use.
Elements that Affect Website Usability
The use of colors plays a major role in viewing your website. Getting the right color tones to convey your message plays a huge role in the way your website is perceived online. Having a basic understanding of color psychology would help you pick the right colors and keep your audience engaged as well. For example, If you are building a website for early childhood education, use of vibrant bright colors would make sense. Also restricting to a specific set of colors and keeping it uniform throughout the web pages, make the website more pleasing to the eye and appealing to the audience. You will need to keep a close watch on the color of your font colors as you would not want them to merge with each other, making it difficult to read.
2. Image/Graphic Usage and Placement
Even the most content driven websites like Medium, Entrepreneur or any other blogging platforms include images or graphics to appeal to the audience. Images are a great way to catch the eye of the users. Using relevant images on your website is key to enhancing the visual appeal of the website. You will also need to ensure that the images that are being used are of high quality, this would not only make the website look appealing but also very professional. The use of high quality images also brings the challenge of page loading issues, which can be rectified by optimizing the image to a particular size. While the use of relevant images is key, ensuring that you place the images proportionally is also a vital aspect that affects the usability of the website.
One of the first few things that we come across when we access a website is the content is positioned and placed on it. Thankfully most times we have legible digital fonts being used on websites, however, knowing which fonts to use plays a crucial role in enhancing the readability of the content posted on the website. And if the content on your website is not easy to read, there are high chances that users who land on the website will look the other way, simply because they are not able to read.
Some of the simple elements we can look at to enhance the readability of the website are typography, whitespace, text formatting, etc. Being aware of the font sizes you use plays an important role in the readability aspect of a website. Having the optimal font sizes for different screen sizes is non-negotiable. Ensure that your website content has enough room to breathe by including whitespaces, keeping a close watch of letter and word spacing. Other aspects include the text formatting, the alignment of the text, making sure that the content being displayed is consistent across the website will avoid any confusion to the reader. Use of lists, bullet points, text boxes, and texts on design elements like banners, topbars, menu lists, etc, affect the readability of the website. Keeping a close eye on these elements will ensure that your users enjoy their experience while reading the content on your website.
The rise of responsive websites have made it easy for developers to build beautiful websites that scale up across different devices and screen sizes with much ease and compatibility. While navigation used to pose a definitive challenge in the past, the expertise and insight available today helps us at great lengths. Restricting the scrolling to the vertical axis, placing your menus at the right places and ensuring that the sub menus fall into the right buckets go a long way in making your website easily navigable. I still remember the times when I used to get so frustrated when I couldn’t locate a specific option or page on some websites back in the day. These days however, the information overload is neatly categorized making it easy for users to navigate to their desired webpages. A valuable tip is to add search bars on your websites as they provide easy access to what your users look for without having to scroll through unnecessary information and pages.
How to Test for Website Usability?
Website Usability Testing is never complete with checking the following list of tests when assessing a website. These types of usability testing will help you narrow down on the aspects to improve on the website to provide a seamless user experience.
1. Navigation Testing
Poor navigation means frustrated users who will never return. Not having the right structure/layout or menu options in the right place can drive users away from your website for not being able to access information easily or perform the Call to Action as expected. Some of the ways you can test for navigation is by getting a few participants to perform a particular task on the website and monitor the time and eye tracking of the users. The quicker a user is able to perform the task, the easier it is to navigate through the website. The tracking report will highlight the key problem areas where users might get stuck when using the website. Getting experts to navigate through the website and share their experience will also help you gather insight to improve the usability of your website.
2. Page Speed
A common issue that many website users come across is slow page loading errors. Site speed is an important factor that can make or break traffic onto your website, it is also given vital importance on the Google search algorithm as well. Ensuring that you optimize your website to load faster will enable potential customers to find information faster and possibly become your client. Keeping a close eye on page loading speed should always be a top priority in your website usability checklist.
3. Cross-Browser Performance
Imagine a particular website works well without any hassle on Google Chrome but fails running smoothly on Firefox or Safari. How can we be sure that the website performs well on all browsers and OSs? By testing it on different browsers and computer systems running different operating systems. Testing your website on a cloud based Cross Browser testing platform will not only ensure a smooth performance across browsers but also minimize the testing costs involved if you were to set up an in-house lab with the required browsers and computer systems. Apart from the affordability, you also have access to test your responsive websites across several devices with varying screen resolutions and sizes be it mobiles, tablets or desktop computers. Ensuring a consistent performance and compatibility across devices will ensure a free flow of customers to your website from different digital channels.
4. Search Engine Optimization
Making sure that your website is optimized for search engines, will provide a higher chance for it to populate on the search results. Various aspects of SEO include backlinking, Page speeds, image optimization, page indexing, content optimization, etc. Constantly optimizing your website to rank higher is key to attracting more traffic and visitors to your website.
Website Usability Testing enables developers to highlight the problem areas to work on or improve on any particular website. These pointers shared here are only a few of the many improvements that one can make on the website to make it user-friendly. The ultimate goal of any website is to assist users with accessing the required information in the least amount of time. Keeping a close eye on these aspects will surely help with making your website easy to navigate and use. We hope these pointers will help you improve the usability of your websites for the better.