In order to compete in a market which is so saturated, often the key to success is for businesses to focus heavily on usability and simplicity in order to draw customers in. For instance, regardless of if a website carries an interesting concept, if it is difficult to navigate and hard to understand then the entire project is almost entirely useless to customers who will be unable to use it.
Web usability in particular, focuses on whether websites or other applications are easy enough for an end-user to navigate, without the requirement of any specialised training. Ideally, customers should be able to intuitively relate the actions they are required to perform on the page with other interactions they see in similar scenarios, for example pushing a button to perform an action.
The following factors are essential in order to achieve optimum usability:
- Memorability: Ensuring that the user is able to remember how to use different functions.
- Efficiency of use: how quickly an experienced users can carry out tasks on the site.
- Ease of learning: how fast a user who has never before been exposed to the user interface is able to accomplish basic tasks on the site.
- Intuitive design: an almost effortless understanding and logic behind the architecture and navigation around the site.
- Error frequency and severity of errors: how frequently users make errors whilst visiting the site, the gravity of those errors and how easily users recover from these mistakes.
All of these factors can be applied in a similar way to other aspects of businesses, and aren’t solely restricted to websites. For instance, if a customer calls a business and is met with an automated menu, with a number of selections to choose from in order to direct their call to right member of staff – how long does it take them to get to the right department? Are the options they are provided with sufficient to choose from? Are they clear enough for the customer to understand what they are being asked? Ultimately, are they getting directed to the person they wish to speak with, and is it happening quickly and easily enough.
In order to maximise usability, businesses must ask themselves what they are trying to achieve, and what the customers who utilise these products, websites or services are hoping to gain from them. It is crucial for businesses to consider who it is they are trying to target – if they are aiming for a certain group of visitors then they should create their website layout in a manner which makes it more accessible for that group of people to navigate. For instance, research has shown that younger audiences prefer bright primary colours, in contrast to middle-aged and older audiences preferring more pale colours. The key is for businesses to themselves in the shoes of those they are creating these services for, those they will be used by.