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Usability and User Experience: What You Need to Know

Usability and User Experience What You Need to Know

As long as the Internet exists, usability and user experience will be an integral part of every website. Furthermore, thanks to the competitive landscape, it’s more vital than ever before for businesses to have a well-designed and functional website, as well as a detailed understanding of usability and UX if they want to succeed online.

However, the more businesses look at usability and user experience as sheer technicalities, the more complicated will be for them to understand their real value. For that reason, we ́ve decided to explain the differences between UX and usability and how both affect one’s web experience.

Why Usability and User Experience Matter?

notebook with drawing of ux and interaction elements

Notebook with a drawing of UX and Interaction elements

In web design, usability refers to how easy a visitor can interact with a website. For example, a website can be visually appealing, but hard to navigate, which in turn makes it difficult for users to find what they need. Those websites are considered non-usable.

User Experience is all about how people feel when they interact with a given website. Usability is about functionality, while UX is about the experience.

Both UX and Usability are important because:

  • If users can’t find what they need on your website, they’ll often become frustrated.
  • The more complicated your website is to use, the bigger the bounce rate will be.
  • A bad UX will result in fewer return visitors, reduced referral traffic, and even a reduced conversion rate.

Visual Website Factors That Affect Usability and UX

The following visual factors, which affect website’s usability and UX, are something that only web designers have the power to modify and control.

Font Size and Color: You need to have readable fonts. The level of contrast with the background should be appropriate, and fonts should be large enough for users to read them effortlessly.

a proper use of font size and colors on a homepage

Image Source: Link

Branding: Brand elements let users know that they’re on your website. According to eye movement studies, the ideal place for placing a brand element such as your logo is the top-left corner of the screen. That’s the area where users are most likely to focus their attention when landing on the site, especially if they read from left to right.

branding elements on a homepage

Image Source: Mercedes-Benz

Layout Colors: If you want to convey your brand and create an aesthetic appeal, the colors on your website must be consistent. Colors need to help the readability of your pages, as well as the hierarchy of other information on your website as well.

a proper usage of brand colors for homepage elements and layouts

Image Source: TechCrunch

Navigation: When a person opens a website, he/she usually needs to get from point A to point B as fast and easily as possible. For that reason, you should provide proper web navigation that will support their experience throughout the pages.

web navigation on the homepage that helps users find what they are looking for

Image Source: Fortune

Content: You must arrange your content into manageable parts. You can achieve that through headings, sub-headings, and concise paragraphs that won’t overwhelm readers.

manageable pieces of content in a blog article

Image Source: TheNextWeb

What Is User Experience?

User experience is all about providing users with a relevant, efficient and purposeful experience whether they are using a product, service, or a website. It’s also the part where a user’s emotions and perspective are taken into account.

Factors That Affect UX

According to Peter Morville, a Fortune 500 UX advisor, there are 7 vital factors that affect your product/website user experience:

seven-factors-that-affect-ux

Useful

If your WordPress website is not useful, why even bother promoting it in the marketplace? A website that doesn’t have any purpose can’t rival its competitors, and it definitely can’t help target customers fulfill their goals.

a useful wordpress site from the start

Image Source: DayBreaker

Usable

Users should be able to execute any desired action without any problems from your website. For example, you could include large clickable areas, intuitive spaces, etc. so that users don’t have to click more than a few times to get where they want to go.

intuitive placement of web elements on the homepage

Image Source: Protest

Findable

Your website, as well as your products and content, should be easy to find. The headlines must be notable, the navigation must be accessible, and the service pages should not be difficult to spot either.

landing page where the information is easily findable

Image Source: AdEspresso

Credible

Without a good UX, it’s almost impossible to deliver credibility. You won’t often get more than one chance to impress users so don’t include false information on your website or questionable information.

Instead, highlight incorporate testimonials, images of your team, certificates, industry recognition badges, and similar social proof of your company’s good standing.

social proof on homepage that enhances brand credibility

Image Source: SkillCrush

Desirable

Acer and Apple make laptop computers. Both companies are usable, findable, and accessible in the marketplace. However, not everyone will pick a MacBook over Acer!

Desirability is a massive factor when it comes to UX. Simply put, users should prefer the style, performance, and layout of your site over your competitors.

product presentation on landing page

Image Source: Apple

Accessible

Accessibility is one of the most neglected aspects of UX. It’s all about making your website accessible to all types of users, especially those with disabilities.

Furthermore, if you design for accessibility, you’ll often end up with a website that is perfectly accessible to everyone, not just users with disabilities such as hearing loss, impaired vision or poor motor skills.

a gif describing the tab function for better web accessibility

Gif Source: Ux Collective

Valuable

At last, your website must deliver value to its users! It must be useful too. Value is often achieved by acquiring new customers and without this, your UX is undermined from the beginning.

a homepage that delivers valuable information form the start accompanied by positive ux

Image Source: Marie Forleo

Why Is UX Important?

If you have a poorly-designed website that’s also hard to use, your target customers will leave, often disappointed, and most likely, they will never come back to your site.

By focusing on good UX, you’ll create an interface that delivers an experience that is well-designed where people won’t think too hard before they click.

A good UX can improve your ROI, facilitate the user journey and decrease the steps needed to turn visitors into returning customers. All of which results in a higher conversion rate and better customer satisfaction.

What Is Usability?

ux and usability design

Usability is similar to the accessibility of a device or website. It revolves around how functional a website is, how easy it is to use, and how pleasant it is for users.

The website design itself is not usable per se. Instead, usability is measured by the ease a user has to accomplish a task through its design.

When it comes to usability it all comes down to thinking about your users and how the elements of your website will help them navigate through it.

Why Usability Is Important?

Usability matters because if users can’t easily accomplish what they wanted to on your website, they’ll find another website that can help them achieve their goals. And when it comes to websites, today, people have a superabundance of choices.

The Attributes of a Usable Website

There are several vital characteristics that shape the usable web experience:

Effectiveness

Effectiveness is all about the accuracy in which the users can achieve their objectives on your website. For greater effectiveness, you need to examine what you provide users with during each user journey stage.

Your messages must also be as clear and meaningful as possible. Re-examine your web navigation elements. If people have too many touchpoints towards their goal, you need to work on reducing them.

Performance

Performance is all about speed! How quickly can someone accomplish their goal or find the information that he/she was looking for on your website?

Again, you need to analyze the number of steps needed to achieve a certain objective, and whether that number can be decreased. Keep in mind that if your navigation buttons are obvious and used as proper shortcuts, then you should have nothing to worry about.

For greater website performance regarding usability, you need to analyze how users use your website (smartphone or laptop) and tweak the navigation accordingly.

Interaction

Web interactions occur when users find the UX positive and the content valuable. When it comes to interaction, aesthetics matter, as well as graphic elements, typography, and any other factors that affect customer satisfaction.

Still, it’s not only about looking great. The website also must look right. You need, among other things, appropriate layouts, readable typefaces, and easy navigation to achieve greater user engagement.

Error Tolerance

For better usability, you must make an effort to minimize errors from occurring on your site. You should also ensure that users are not affected negatively from an error on your website and can get back to what they were doing almost immediately.

You need to limit the opportunities for the users to make a mistake on your site. This is why you need to highlight links and buttons. The language and tone used should also be clear and to the point, and jargon should be kept to a minimum.

Simplicity of Learning

If you want recurring visitors to your website, you need to make it easy to use so that when they visit it again, everything is easy and familiar.

When you have a new feature on your website, you need to create instructions on how to use this new function and/or feature. If you don’t, you might turn a satisfied user into a frustrated one, especially if they don’t know how to use your new feature.

The best way to teach your users about each innovation on your website is to ensure that the feature matches the user’s mental user journey. It’s the reason why buttons look like buttons, and why users click them. Or why a contact form triggers the required action from a user.

The Pillars of Web Usability and UX

The 4 pillar elements of a web experience can help improve your site’s usability and UX right away.

Clear Navigation

Sacrificing navigation in exchange for pompous design is not the path to a good UX. Your content should be split between multiple pages, and pages with menus.

clear navigation menus on a homepage

Image Source: Bi-Rite

Enhanced Performance

Even if your website looks simple to navigate, it shouldn’t feel slow. In general, your site shouldn’t take more than 2-3 seconds to load. If that’s not the case, visitors will leave and you’ll miss out on potential conversions.

measuring page speed with google pagespeed insights

Better Readability

If the design of your website contributes to a poor reading experience, then you probably have a problem with your website. Readability is crucial because if users can’t understand your message, you won’t be able to keep them on your site for more than a few seconds.

good readability of a blog post

Image Source: Slack Blog

Mobile Responsiveness

Today, people consume more content through their smartphones than on their laptops. Mobile responsiveness is integral for good usability. A mobile-responsive design enables your site to work smoothly regardless of the screen that it’s being displayed on.

a mobile responsive version of a wordpress website

Image Source: Cure.org

The Nuances Between Usability and User Experience

users browsing on the internet

To begin with, usability is a much narrower concept than user experience because it only focuses on achieving a certain goal. As a result, user experience is a result of the content design, functionality, system performance, interactive behavior, and assistive competences of an interactive website. The user experience involves various aspects such as human factors, design, ergonomics, accessibility, marketing, branding, as well as usability.

In terms of website goals, usability exists to make the website easy to use. Moreover, user experience should leave a positive impression, throughout and after using the website. Therefore, usability is focused on the ease with which users can achieve their goals on the website, while user experience is concerned with how the users perceive their interactions with the website.

As a process, user experience is all about creating a product that ensures purposeful and relevant experiences for users. This is comprised of the planning process, as well as the elements of branding, design, usability, and function.

Even though user experience requires a serious investment in effort and resources, its results have a massive impact! When done right, UX has the power to significantly improve the relationship between the users and the brand. This doesn’t mean that usability should be put in second place. Au contraire, both of these aspects are closely related, and the aim of usability is to provide a pleasing and positive experience for all users.

Wrapping Up

To sum things up, we’ve established that usability is all about how comfortably a user interacts with your website. It falls under the UX realm but it doesn’t shape the entire narrative of the web experience.

Usability implies efficiency and satisfaction when users complete tasks and goals. Whereas user experience looks at how people interact with your website.

We hope that through this article, you’ve come to understand the similarities and the differences between usability and user experience, and how both concepts affect your website.

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