OK, let's start with a useful definition
Wikipedia tells us that usability is - 'the ease of use and learnability of a human made object'. Usability therefore applies to anything that we make and interact with. A website, a toaster, a door handle or even a hammer; they all need to be easy to use and give the best possible benefit to the user.
At Kalexiko we love smart websites that not only keep the reader engaged but also entertain and delight. This means your site must look fantastic and be easy to use.
Remember, if people get frustrated with your site, they will leave and visit a competitor's. Usability is all about keeping them with you.
Ten Kalexiko checks to ensure maximum website usability
1. Does it meet customer's need?
Ask 'who will be viewing your site?' See it though your customer's eyes and check it meets all their needs and expectations.
2. Keep navigation clear and simple
Different people will navigate the same site in different ways. Your site should guide your customers from your front page, on to the essential information they need and then through to checkout or service enquiry. Ensure your customer journey is smooth, persuasive and logical.
3. Check that all the information is there
Sure, you will want to tell your customers all about your great product and its unique features and benefits, but is it also clear how much it costs and how they can actually buy one?
The Kalexiko site for leading UK letting agent Martin & Co supports landlords and people who want to rent a property. We used smooth, logical navigation to meet the needs of different customer groups. From the front page, you click either a 'Tenant Zone' or a 'Landlord Zone' and you're then through to the essential information each group needs. There are also zones for students and people interested in a business franchise.
4. Check your onsite searches
Ensure your onsite search is easy to use and returns the most relevant information. Test often and make improvements.
For Martin & Co we introduced quick search mechanisms. If you want to rent a property you simply search under location, size and price and click GO. There's even an option to map the geographical area you're interested in.
5. Keep words simple and use great photos
Online, people's eyes are drawn to photos and graphics and they tend to just scan text. Always keep your copy short and to the point and use eye-catching visuals.
For Martin & Co we used plenty of engaging images of people as appose to properties (although they do come later!). We did this because an attractive smile never fails to catch your eye. Use engaging photos supported by crisp copy to get your point across.
6. Check the technology
Check that all navigation, links, graphics, pictures, videos, etc., load immediately, never freeze and are displayed correctly.
7. Accessibility for all
Over eight million people are registered disabled in the UK, so check that your site meets the usability requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
8. Hey Guys! I've found this great site, here's the link
Check that your content is delightful, entertains and surprises. Cool videos, useful links, blogs, funnies and informative specialist knowledge keep people engaged and result in link recommendations.
People love to make connections and blogs are a great way to do this. The Martin & Co site features a number of blog articles. Some are chatty and personal, others give the reader essential industry information.
9. Test it
Ask a range of different people to visit your site. Afterwards, ask them what they looked at and what they learnt.
10. Refresh and revise
Check your site often to ensure that everything is in date and add new content so that it always feels fresh and new. This is a sure way to boost usability and keep people coming back for more.
The business case for getting it right
Here at Kalexiko, we're passionate about getting usability right and creating a happy, pain free, website experience. This isn't just about sites looking great and working smoothly, there's a clear business case. UK online authority Econsultancy tell us that, for every £1 invested in improving usability, you can expect to see £6 returned. Now that's got to be money well spent!