10 Reasons Ignoring Usability is a Bad Idea


Time and attention. Aren’t we all fighting for more of that for our web sites, our landing pages, our blogs, our Twitter profiles for goodness sake. Time and attention. What keeps a web site visitor giving you more of their time and attention?

My viewpoint on this subject was formed based on the almost 4 years thinking about busy senior caregivers and seniors and how they use the web, and how they don’t use the web. Where they click and where they won’t. Serving the fast growing senior on line market forces you through some web design filters for sure. Filters in regards to color, contrast, information volume, content, use of keywords, form ease of use, and many more. What applies for attracting and keeping the attention of a senior audience is not so far from what you need to provide for any busy, option hunting web audience. Here are the reasons you can’t ignore what they think of your site’s ease of use – or usability factor:

1. People are in a hurry, much of the time on the web. They are scanning and hunting for a product or information right for them.  If you have not considered how easy it is (or not) to find the key pieces of information your site exists for (hottest products, key solutions, etc.) your users are most likely not spending much time hunting, and are onto the next site.

2. Based on age and health of your visitor, your site may or may not be easy to see or read. Color contrast relevant to the age and tastes of your audience is important. Are they young and looking for trendy use of color, older and needing high contrast? Researching and wanting color simplicity?

3. information is power, if it is organized in an easy to use fashion. Who cares if your firm holds the golden key to all of your visitor’s business problems if it is buried beyond 3 flash files and 4 irrelevant topic categories? Think about the need of you audience and organize information so the most important content is available first and easily.

4. If you ain’t asking, I ain’t responding. Does your site ask people to respond to your offers and products in the right places? You may have “had them at hello” but do they know where to click now to buy or learn more? Is it obvious where to buy your product.

5. Consumers will drop everything and leave the store if the cart process is difficult or frustrating. I spent hours trying to convince a client that all the marketing in the world would not make his cart easy to use. You have brought them to the party – are they bailing out early because the shopping process is hard to use or too cluttered?

6. There are places visitors are looking first and you need to know where they are. Heat mapping technology evolved to help companies figure out where their visitors were looking on their web pages – are your strongest calls to action well placed and gripping? If you don’t want to spend the dollars on heat mapping ask 5 coworkers at lunch to tell you where their eye goes on your top 5 web pages. if the represent your audience types, listen.

7. Lead and they will follow. Good usability practices lead your audiences to where they need to go to get what they want to buy from you. Is it obvious where you are leading your audience segments? Are 20 somethings’ paths as clear as the 35 and older women’s? All of your key audience segments should have several clear paths to follow. Are you leading?

8. You must stand out in your field on line. Okay, in other words, your site must look better, function better and close sales or share information better then your top 3 competitors. Does it? What are they doing wrong or poorly that you could do better? Color? Organization? Audience targeting? Are they using fancy technology but have horrible content or visa versa? There are your opportunities.

9. Deploying good usability practices is a wise use of budget. (and those are precious few these days for some) So. Don’t waste money on a poorly organized, visually unappealing site. Take the time to know and target your top 3 audience segments with great paths, visuals and information they will use. Use at least an A and B version of your site or even some of the key pages, observe the clicks and make changes before you go live with a redesign. Your designer may have thought it looked great but its the clicks that count, so don’t ignore them when redesigning your site.

10. Last but not least, good usability practices increase site stickiness, call to action response, completed contact us forms and phone calls. For most, this is at least part of why they have a site at all – to increase revenues.

One meeting with the right people in attendance, to review your site and list the biggest usability opportunities on your site, and then taking action to test those suggestions, could increase the conversion of your site traffic by 20% or more. Brainstorm, make a list, assign the changes and test a couple of them at a time. If you know your audience as well as you think you, you will be amazed at the results.

2 thoughts on “10 Reasons Ignoring Usability is a Bad Idea

  1. While this is a slightly different discipline, accessibility cannot be ignored either. However, one may assume that the better your usability, the easier it will be to make your site more accessible. If you’ve already taken the steps to help your older audience, for example, helping your vision- or hearing-impaired audiences can also be done.
    And you are right on about usability testing. Just don’t wait until the week before launch to do it. You never know what you’ll find, or how much time you’ll need to fix things. You don’t want to launch a site with problems because one chance with customers may be all you get!

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