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How Easy-to-Use Is Your Website?

How Easy-to-Use Is Your Website?
Published January 15, 2010 by Jenn Soloway Comments: 2

I read a fantastically well-detailed post this afternoon over at Smashing Magazine’s blog. The article discussed the author’s online experience in shopping for sheets by comparing the buying process of three major retailers – Macys.com, Target.com, and Overstock.com.

What the article truly is is a reminder of the importance of usability testing.

Usability testing, not just once before launch, but regularly over the course of your website’s life cycle is crucial in making sure your potential customers are getting the online experience they expect. These expectations change with time and technology upgrades, and if you are last to adopt a simpler method to achieving your site goals, visitors will notice and stop coming back. Why wouldn’t they? No one wants to work at giving a company their business.

After all, as the article points out in excruciating detail, site visitors – more accurately potential customers – are the ones who will recognize if their experience is seamless, or if the process is a challenge to work through. Both positive and negative experiences are strong enough to impact a customer’s memory of your brand.

Discussion

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2 Responses to “How Easy-to-Use Is Your Website?”

  1. Josh Gibbs said:

    I totally agree. Recently I needed to replace the belt in my vacuum cleaner. After a few minutes of Googling around, I decided to go to the manufacturer’s website. It was extremely easy to use.

    However, some sites don’t have the luxury of usability testing on a regular basis. For them, it may be better to list their products on other sites that help market, sell, and follow up to customers. Sites like Amazon and Google Checkout are my top picks.

    • Jenn said:

      @Josh – True, not all sites have the luxury of hiring a usability tester regularly, however basic usability testing can be done by employing a family member, an intern, or any employee who does not use the site process on a daily basis and is completely accustomed to the required steps. It may not be as thorough as hiring someone, but in a pinch, it will let you know where the glaring inconsistencies are.

      Which, that’s better than nothing.