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Making Your Website Work Thru Usability

by Brandon Welch
Web Designer/Developer & Web Expert
Connect with me: | Facebook | LinkedIn

When thinking about a new website, many say “I want something that looks really nice”. This is understandable, you want something that is going to really represent your product/company well, and make your customers really impressed.

But, did you know a pretty design is by far NOT the most important thing to consider when thinking about website design? There are many things that outrank the importance of design quality. Let’s talk about one.

Usability Driving Conversion

A websites usability is key to a successful website and making it “work”. Usability simply put is using the design to direct the user to the actions you want them to make. It also includes giving them information in a logical easy to use format and display.

Why is this usability so important? Because it drives conversion. Conversion is the user taking the action you want them to take. Depending on the business, this could be many different things. It could be buying a product, filling out a contact form or simply calling for an estimate.

A website is not just a “thing” your business has. It is an ever evolving creation based on your business goals and the trends of website users.

Usability Almost Always Wins

This means that usability, and a clear understanding of what is being looked at almost always wins over design. As a professional graphic artist, it can be hard to admit that at times, but it is true. Just because something might win a design award, does not mean it is a good design that actually works for the business.

Example of Bad Usability and Lack of Focus on Conversion

I recently came across another local website design company’s website. As I looked thru it, I noticed I could not find their phone number. In fact, they only had it in one location on their entire site (on the contact page). Now, this may have been intentional, sometimes companies want you to use a contact form or email instead of calling in, but if they are like ClicksCrazy.com,  depending person to person interaction to get sales, I doubt this is the case.

This might seem minor, but remember, you may only have a couple of seconds to give a user what they are looking for. For many service oriented companies, users are visiting your site to see what you do, and get a quote. Make those things as easily found as possible.

Questions the Designer Should Ask

  • What does the business want from the site?
  • What is the demographic of people expected to use the site?
  • How will they be getting to the site?
  • What do we want them to do when they get there?
  • If we want them to do multiple things, how can we layout the design to appropriately prioritize these things?

The above are of course just a few examples your designer should consider.

So if you are a business owner, don’t simply focus on getting a “high end” design and hope your web presence will flourish. Make sure your designer is asking the right questions and look a their other websites as a consumer to help gauge their usability design experience.

Remember, for your website to really work, it may take repeated tweaks and changes to your design based on feedback and analytics.