User experience (UX) and usability

Dated Monday September 9, 2013

Tags: gebruiksvriendelijkheid, ux, website



The usability of a website is a key component of the user experience of your website. Whether or not a visitor can easily find what he or she was looking for within a few seconds will make or break a website. When on the internet, people are impatient and used to easy navigation. And with a little help of Google, it is easier to look for your competitors then work their way through a slow or otherwise unusable website. Your website needs to be fast, easy and consistent!

Although this may sound obvious, it is incredibly hard to get spot on. And when designing a website, there is often more focus on aesthetics then on user experience.

Visitor first

The priority of usability in the design process is essential when creating a great user experience. Usability is not something you can add or implement as a final stage of the design. It needs to be addressed in each step of the process. In every step you need to ask yourself: how is the visitor going to perceive this. Remember: a visitor will see your design for the first time. You have been looking it for days now. You now where to find that essential button. But will the visitor spot it in first glance?

Perform tests with mock ups. If it takes to long to find their way around the navigation (more then 3 seconds), or they need to ask questions before they understand the navigation: something is wrong. And how unique or cool you thought the design would be, you're not going to win with it. Keep in mind that people come to your website in search for information or to perform a task. If they are impressed by your design, then thats a bonus. But if the design hinders them from accessing the information or to perform their task, they will get annoyed not impressed.

User friendliness

Being user friendly means helping the user in whatever he wants to do. Getting him to where he wants to go. This means a structured and intuitive menu. A search function that gives the expected results. A form that clearly shows what is expected and where the user went wrong.

Test your own design. A much effort does is take to find and send the contact form? How easy is it to order? Can you find the most basic information within 3 clicks?

Improving the navigation and usability on a existing website is a difficult task and can only be done in small steps. Asking yourself these type of questions when designing the website will save you a great deal of time in the end.

Measuring usability and the user experience

It can be quite difficult to determine what will be the most user friendly way of presented a button or a form. In the end, it all comes down to testing. Google Analytics can help you to measure these tests. One way to measure the usability it to set goals for your website (i.e. order book) and describe the path to that goal. Google will then show you for each step how many visitor proceeded to the next step. This will help you find the bottleneck you need to improve.

An other method of testing and measuring is A/B tests. You give 50% of the visitors design A and 50% of the visitors design B. You can then measure in which of the designs most visitors performed the required task (i.e. click on "order now"). Google can also help you measure this in greater detail.