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How to Test and Improve Your Website’s Usability6 min read

May 20, 2021 5 min read

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How to Test and Improve Your Website’s Usability6 min read

Your website is the face of your business online. It serves a variety of purposes, from finding new prospects to marketing your services. But your website will only be successful if people can actually use it. Web usability is, therefore, crucial for your business. At first glance, website usability seems pretty straightforward: if your website is up and running and looks the way you envisioned it – it’s working. But in reality, things are a little more complicated than that. For that reason, it’s essential to thoroughly test and improve your website’s usability regularly. This will ensure your users’ satisfaction and even help improve your search engine rankings.

What is web usability?

These days, every business must have a website. As long as it’s up and running, that website is technically usable. But that’s not what we really mean when we say “website usability”. What this phrase refers to is how easy and convenient it is for people to use a website. A variety of things affect the answer to this question, including:

  • whether users can easily find your website,
  • how logically structured your website is,
  • if it’s easy to navigate your website,
  • how fast your pages load,
  • whether the website design follows well-established patterns,
  • if the content is clear and easy to find, and more.
  • It’s vital to pay attention to all of these things because they affect user experience.

It’s vital to pay attention to all of these things because they affect user experience.

Two women browsing the internet on a laptop.
Web usability affects user satisfaction.

When do you need to test and improve your website’s usability?

User behavior is the best indicator of your website’s usability. If you notice that your users are not spending a lot of time on your website, that your bounce rates are rising, or even that you’re not attracting as much traffic as you expected, it’s time to consider testing your website’s usability.

How can you test and improve your website’s usability?

Testing and improving any aspect of a website, including its usability, is a process. As always, each website is unique, and so the process of testing and improving it will also be unique. Over time, you’ll develop a specific method that suits your needs. But as a general guide, these are the steps you’ll need to perform:

Identify problems with the right kind of testing

There are several different ways to test website usability. Some aspects of it, like loading speed, can even be tested with apps and plugins. But the best thing to do is to turn to the users themselves. A simple survey in which you ask your users questions about the website can be a good start. For more accurate and thorough results, however, you’ll want to observe your users in action.

A person using a laptop to test and improve your website's usability.
The best way to test and improve your website’s usability is to observe how your users browse it and what problems they encounter.

You can perform tests with your users long-distance, with the help of tools that allow you to record their actions, or by hiring freelancers to work with participants in person. The two most effective methods for testing are the five-second test and observing users as they perform a specific action. In the five-second test, you let the user see your page for five seconds, then ask them what they recall. This shows you how well your visuals are working and what your users notice first. The other option is to give the users a specific task and see how long it takes them to complete it and how difficult they find it. This lets you see how they actually navigate the website in real life.

Resolve current issues

When your users tell you something, you should listen. So if your testing reveals some specific issues, fix them at once. Flatten your website structure, add different navigation options, improve your security, and implement other changes users suggest. This is a quick and easy way to improve usability by targeting specific issues directly.

Simplify your website design and user interface

Once you’re confident that there are no significant issues, you can turn to more all-encompassing solutions. The first thing you should consider is simplifying your website to make it easier to use. Start with the visual aspect: a busy web design detracts from the actual features and makes navigation harder. Choose a more straightforward theme with fewer images; it’ll look better and work better both. Then, focus on the interface. Ensure all the features are where users expect them to be, easy to locate, and easy to use in only a few steps.

Make navigation easier

Organizing your website in a logical way is a great way to keep your users browsing. If they can easily find the content they’re looking for, they’ll be more likely to view multiple pages instead of getting frustrated and leaving your website quickly. The golden rule is that a user should never be more than three clicks away from any page. To ensure this, use different navigation tools, including headers, sidebars, and crumbs. Remember to check whether your website looks good on mobile, too – mobile optimization is a must when half of your traffic is coming from mobile devices.

Provide engaging but digestible content

Being able to locate and navigate your content won’t matter much to users if they can’t also easily consume that content. So make sure that you’re using a font that’s easy to read and a color scheme that won’t put too much strain on users’ eyes. Furthermore, write content that is easy to read. If you’re running your website on WordPress, you can download plugins that track readability for you. Finally, include images and videos in your content. That way, you won’t end up with massive and unappealing blocks of text.

Person reading a blog.
Make your content easy to read and understand.

Why is it important to test and improve your website’s usability?

Web usability has a considerable impact on user experience. If your users don’t find your website usable, they won’t like it. In fact, they’ll probably leave and never come back, which is pretty much the opposite of what you want. What you need to do instead is retain customers and earn customer loyalty by offering up a website that is easy, intuitive, and still beautiful – a website they’ll want to return to. This isn’t as hard as it seems: you just need to keep track of usability and fix any problems that arise.

The best way to test and improve your website’s usability is to think about the user

Whenever you set out to test and improve your website’s usability, keep in mind that you’re trying to make your website better for the user. So try to put yourself in their shoes. What are the first things they will see? How will they browse different pages? What changes do they want to be implemented? Although it’s important the website looks and works well for you as well, user experience should always take precedence. So make changes that you think your users will like.

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