Optimizing your website’s search ranking and conducting online marketing may bring traffic to your website. But it's only the first step in reaching the business goals for your website.
Once potential customers land on your website, it’s time for the second crucial step: Converting those visitors into the next phase of the sales funnel—whether that’s a business lead capture, signing up for a newsletter or completing a purchase. That’s why your website’s usability, or site performance, should be a critical part of your customized SEO plan.
What is website usability exactly?
Website usability is a broad discipline that encompasses data science, web design, usability testing, content creation, and more. The ultimate goal is to deliver a seamless, positive user experience that makes visitors more likely to explore your website, learn about your business, and ultimately become customers. In other words, it aims to create an online experience that optimizes conversion.
Because web usability is an important factor in every aspect of your online presence, creating a web usability strategy is necessary for your online success. Below, I’ll share about when you need to keep web usability top of mind, what components of a website contribute to web usability, and how you can begin to implement your own web usability strategy.
When should you think about web usability?
You always need to have your website’s site performance in mind. However, there are some key moments that are especially important to make sure your website’s usability strategy is on point.
These moments are opportunities you can use to optimize your website’s ROI:
- When launching a new website: If you’re building a website from scratch, you need to think about the usability factor beginning at the web design and content mapping stage. If you build in a positive and intuitive user experience from the very start, you will get more satisfied customers. That in turn, will affect your bottom line in the long term.
- When redesigning an old site: When you’re redesigning a site, you have the chance to fix usability problems from your old site and seize new opportunities that are emerging in the industry. To make sure that you are adapting your site’s usability to meet your business goals, you may consider hiring a usability consultant to provide a fresh and unbiased perspective.
- When ecommerce is a significant business priority for your company: Usability is important for any website, but it should be an even bigger priority if you sell products or services through your website. We've all been on the doorstep of a purchase online, only to be discouraged by clunky sign-up forms, poorly designed checkout pages, or questionable website security practices. If you create a seamless user experience, you break down unnecessary barriers to conversion.
- When your website has been dormant or is not meeting your business goals: If you haven’t touched your website in a long time, you need to review what the experience is for the user. Immediately. The internet is constantly evolving, so even if your site delivered a pleasant experience when it was launched, it may not meet today’s high standards. Consequently, it could be hurting your business’s bottom line.
What are components of web usability?
Web usability is made up of a variety of website components that together affect your website visitor’s experience. By breaking them down, you can learn what elements you need to change or coordinate to optimize the user experience on your website.
Components of web usability include:
- Information architecture: Have you ever noticed how some websites seem to anticipate your needs as you explore, and guide you to relevant content? That's no accident.
A website’s information architecture, or organization of the website’s content, is an integral aspect of strategic web usability. When content is well organized, site visitors can quickly and easily find what they need. That in turn, makes them more likely to convert on or return to your website.
- Mobile usability: With global web traffic from mobile devices increasing each day and search engines factoring mobile friendliness into ranking algorithms, mobile usability needs to be a crucial part of your web usability strategy.
Studies have actually shown that mobile visitors are more likely to revisit sites that are mobile friendly. In addition, with mobile-first indexing, the mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their index, and the baseline for how they determine rankings.
Google uses mobile page speed as a factor for ranking mobile search results. For many sites, implementing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to create mobile optimized content for instant loading may be a way to optimize the mobile usability experience.
- Functional design: Designing your website should be about more than just making your pages aesthetically pleasing. Web design should incorporate factors such as the habits of your target audience, eye tracking research, the business goals of your website, and insights gained from your site performance. Considering these factors in the web design process can help create a positive experience that leads your audience to the convert to the next stage of the sales funnel.
- Relevant and well organized content: People are coming to your website because they have a question. If you don’t provide relevant content that answers their questions, they will navigate away from your site, no matter how aesthetically pleasing it is. In addition, your site visitors need to be able to digest the content easily. Tools such as headlines, sub-headlines, small paragraphs help provide the website visitor with the information they need quickly, which is a key factor in creating a positive user experience.
How do you begin to implement a web usability strategy?
So how can you ensure that the effort you put into your website will actually result in a better user experience for your key audience?
There's no need to guess about what will work best for your website, or how to offer a user experience that keeps customers coming back for more. Test what works best for your website by making changes and watching how they affect your web analytics. In addition, usability testing, whether qualitative or quantitative, will allow you to test the user experience of your website with an audience that fits your demographic profile. All of these different types of testing will provide you with the feedback you need to thrive online.