How website usability affects conversions

Usability can actually be a marketing tool. The more informative a website is, the more likely it is that a potential customer will remain long enough to convert. A high quality site also makes it easier for the customer to interact, thus minimising website abandonment, and these aren’t the only ways that user friendliness and usability increase conversions.
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While usability standards have generally been rising, there is still considerable discrepancy between one website and another.  This opens up an avenue for increasing conversions for any company willing to put a little extra skill and care into the design of its website.

The first step is knowing what people consider to be a usable site.  This may seem easy to understand and sometimes it is. It can be common sense, such as don’t hide order buttons, present quality information and make navigation easy.  Or, it can be more sophisticated, such as the skillful use of white space. But usability can also be counter intuitive.  This is where user experience testing comes in handy.

It's also a good idea to check what keywords people are searching for.  Not only will this improve SEO, it will also help you to understand what information should be front and center on your site, and so knowing what people want is a vital first step,

Next comes  usability testing, the purpose of which is to provide important information regarding how well people can achieve their goals when using your website.  It's important to test how people relate to and interact with your site.  This can be done through user experience testing and through software that can give you real time information on how your customers interface with your site.

Remember that no matter what you are selling, you will always be selling to a particular niche of the population. So it’s important to develop an accurate definition of your average customer, in other words, to develop an accurate customer persona. This is usually done through customer interviews, and surveys can also provide backup information.  This can then be used to better match your website to the kind of user behavior that is common to your customer base.  

Collected data can then be combined with user experience to create the web design that can best influence user behavior in a positive way.  It's important to know where your target audience is in order to make certain that you are leaning the design of your web page toward the proper demographic.

Visual elements are also important.  The Internet is first and foremost a visual marketplace.  The very capacity of the Internet to present massive amounts of information means that potential customers will spend only a few seconds evaluating your website to determine if they are interested in doing business with you.  Consequently quality website design is a vital element in the process of converting a visitor to a customer.

As digital technology spreads,  people are becoming faster at evaluating what they see. They tend to make snap judgments, often staying only a few seconds on a given site.   Any part of a website that strikes the visitor the  " wrong way"  can have an adverse effect on conversions.  So, it is vital to make certain that first impressions are favorable impressions.  It's very easy to make the mistake of assuming that the visual style of the website is less important than other usability issues, such as navigation.  However, it's important to realize that user interaction is strongly related to the first few seconds of viewing your site. Navigation then becomes important once visual appeal has attracted and retained visitor attention.

Quality design encourages trust and invites the visitor to remain.  Trust is created through such things as a site that is arranged in a visually appealing and interesting way, followed by usability in such forms as ease of navigation, mobile friendliness and by providing quality information.  

In fact, usability is more than just meeting the standard criteria for ease of use.  It is the bringing together of everything from colour scheme and page arrangement to integrated apps and the call to action.  Transitions must be smooth, actions must be easy to understand and execute and the whole thing should be placed in an attractive package. And  don’t be ambiguous in your call to action.

The purpose of usability is primarily to make the potential customer feel confident and relaxed when using the site, and improving usability can affect conversions in a number of ways.  We have already mentioned how usability can increase the trust factor and it increases credibility as well.  

A well thought out website with easy navigation and a number of different ways for the customer to get his or her questions answered conveys the idea that the potential customer is dealing with an established and credible business. The best websites are the ones that put the user in control.  It doesn't matter whether we're talking about expert users or not.  

Anything that can be done to make it easier for the user to convert is a good thing.  For example, purchases should be easy to make and have as few steps as possible. The more steps there are the more likely it is that the potential customer will abandon the purchase.

Also, it's a good idea to arrange information so that the user never has to click more than twice to get that information.  Information should also be presented based on priority, and it may require user experience testing to determine correct prioritisation.

Design should be simple and straightforward and the use of graphic elements should never be confusing.  For example, the graphic presentation of information should never be easily mistaken for an advertisement, as people tend to ignore these.  

Calls to action should be straightforward and yet subtle.  Never put calls to action in big red letters or scary fonts, it makes your site look tacky and lowers credibility.  Avoid using words and phrases like " get it now" or " deal" in calls to action.  This makes the call look more like a sales pitch than a directive, and the modern jaded consumer will usually reject it.  Besides, the sales pitch should be in the text and not in the call to action.

While certain usability standards are universal, you shouldn’t rely only on doing it by the book. The book provides the foundation, but increasing conversions through usability has a lot to do with with the type of business you are in and understanding your potential customers. Ultimately, there is no substitute for a little imagination guided by careful research.

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