07/08/09
Don’t Make Me Think!

This is one of the key phrases when it comes to user experience and usability testing on the web. Steve Krug even wrote a book on the subject using the same title.
Don't Make Me Think

So what is usability?

The ISO 9241-11 definition of usability states…

‘The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.’

So basically in a nutshell this means you want your visitors to come to your site, find what they’re after (and potentially purchase) quickly and easily and leave your site feeling happy about the whole process. Happy customers means returning customers!

In a study undertaken by Jakob Nielson in 2003, following a thorough usability evaluation and a redesign based on the results, websites average increase in usability was 135%

Metric Average Improvement
Sales / Conversion rate 100%
Number of visitors 150%
Time taken to complete task 161%
Use of target features 202%

What do I need to do?

You’ve got a couple of options; you can either pay out a few thousand pounds to a company to run a usability test for you, or you can actually talk to your users!

It is critical to do two things: Identify and profile your users, and identify and profile their tasks.

Without identifying these two variables, how can you hope to have a website that’s usable to them and supports their needs? In effect, you would have ‘designed in the dark’ for them.

This all comes down to user-centred design and usability concepts, both of which we’ll be covering the basics of in our usability training courses that we’re currently developing.