The other day I logged on to a friend’s new site and cringed. Not because the site wasn’t pretty – it was. It was smooth, slick, and obviously professionally designed. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find my way around it.

Confused person in front of a laptop computer‘Usability’ is a bit of a watchword with me. As a web designer, I know that websites have to do a lot more than just look pretty. It’s entirely possible to have a beautiful site that is easy for people to use, but often it seems like designers hit one target and not the other. This is why it’s a good idea to have a review to improve your site’s usability.

Of course, there’s always one driving force for every business move, and improving your usability satisfies that too. A more usable site can really make you money, in two ways.

1. Saving money

If something saves your business money, it is essentially adding more to your coffers, right? Increasing the usability of your site will save you money much like getting your car serviced regularly will save you having to buy a whole new car. Turning your site into a smooth-running machine keeps it cruising for longer.

Concentrating on usability-

  • Improves your SEO. One thing you’ll notice when you begin search engine optimisation is how much the process cleans up your site. I have to admit, when I first became involved in SEO all those years ago, I was amazed at how much my site improved. This translated into better rankings, but even before that it transferred into a couple of new client contacts.
  • Improves site function. Maintaining your website can become a costly exercise after a while. To go back to the motor metaphor, a site with usability errors is like a car that has been held together with home repairs. It’s going to break down constantly, causing more costs than a well-maintained car.
  • Increases use of your site. This may sound strange, but increased usability… increases usability! If your site is easier for people to use, they will use it more frequently. Increased use of a website saves a lot of money for any business that has other access options, such as phone enquiries or a physical address.

2. Making money

This is the one that most business owners will be looking for. There have been a lot of studies on usability, and these have consistently shown that increased usability makes businesses money. For example:

  • Usability increases conversions. It has been shown that conversions can double after usability improvements on a site. The reason for this is clear. When internet users can find their way through your site without hassle, they are comfortable enough to go forward with their purchase, registration or other conversion.
  • Key performance indicators go up. Conversions are what you may be after, but these are supported by other factors. As the search engines like more usable sites, your search traffic should increase. A more usable site will receive more downloads and subscriptions – all those things that generate leads.
  • Increased productivity. People often forget that there’s a flip side to a website. Improved usability can help your staff to use and support your site, meaning you get more work for your paid hours.

No matter how many good ideas you have for your website, if it’s not easy to use it’s destined for failure. Improved usability can help your site in many ways not listed here, but the hard facts are that it provides a great ROI even without the side benefits.

Don’t just sit pretty – make your site usable.

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