Usability is likely also an important component for your website, app, and/or webshop. But what is meant by the usability of a digital platform? How does user testing contribute to this, and how does usability relate to UX? I work as a UX/UI designer at GX, and I will answer the five most frequently asked questions, which are also the most important for you.
What is the meaning of Usability?
The literal meaning of usability refers to the ease with which a person can use a particular product or system. For example, think about how usable your website, webshop, or app is. Good usability is about reducing the time and energy a user needs to complete a specific task. You can do this by improving navigation, increasing the understandability of the user interface, creating intuitive controls, and increasing valuable functionality.
But what about UX?UX stands for User Experience and is about a user's overall experience with your digital platform. What this specifically means is that for good user experience:
- Your website needs to be easy to use, and everything should work as expected.
- The experience with your platform should be perceived as easy.
- Your company is viewed positively as a whole.
In short, the user experience from start to finish is central to UX.
Back to usability, why should you pay attention to this?
The total user experience consists of different parts. For example, you have utility, where you make sure that all functionality within, for example, a new app works. Another important part is usability. Ifend you don't think about usability in UX design, you cannot achieve a perfect user experience.
Good usability means that your website is easy to use, and the way you navigate the site matches end-users' expectations. Because based on our observations and expectations, we form a picture of how a website works, also called the mental model.
A mental model is an abstract expectation of how a product should work. It is based on our previous experiences with technology and experiences in the physical world, also known as liquid expectations.
If an end-user does not have a positive experience on your website, you will lose that person. Maybe forever, especially when the end-user achieves the intended goal more easily and efficiently elsewhere.
The fact is that thanks to smartphones, we have become so accustomed to the straightforward, user-friendly, and intuitive use of digital products that we assume that every digital product offers us the same experience. We expect a seamless personal experience where we achieve the maximum goal with minimal resistance. The website's usability plays one of the most important roles here. So make sure your end-users can find what they need.
How can you improve the usability of a website?
You can improve the usability of a website by designing from the perspective of the end-user. Most products are designed from the thought and expertise of the developer, the company, and/or the designer. Developers understand complex technical products. They often think from their own logical structure, which is not necessarily logical for end-users. The same applies to the use of jargon. So it's about getting into the head of your end-user through user testing.
Unfortunately, you don't just have a row of end-users standing next to your desk so that you can constantly test what you're doing. However, solid user research, or user testing, is the way to improve usability. During user testing, you observe how someone navigates through your website and ask about their experiences.
For example, thanks to user testing, we found that the information on one of our client's websites could have been more organized for end-users. During the user test, they had a hard time navigating and finding information which caused them to drop out at some point. You certainly want to avoid that.
What are quick wins for improving usability?
Fortunately, there are many quick wins that can improve the usability of a website. How about:
- Increasing readability by using a font size of 16px for the main text. This is about the same size as printed text in a book, making it comfortable to read and contributing to digital accessibility.
- Focus on one action per page. Don't promote too many different things at once to focus the attention of the end-user on your unique selling point (USP).
- Consistency significantly contributes to predictability and, therefore, also to user-friendliness. For example, ensure all buttons have the same style throughout the page. Or if you underline a link in one place, you should also underline it in other places.
Do you want to know how to improve not only usability but also the UX of your website? We also have a handy blog for that, called Improving the UX of Your Site: Where to Begin?