DG_Usability Final

Usability Questions That Keep Us Up At Night

by: | June 25, 2011

Every website shares the same concerns as thousands – in some cases, millions – of others. We all want users to find our sites, easily use them, and get what they came for. (Hopefully in the process, they’ll spread the word socially about how great the site is, too.) But how can we ensure these goals are being met?

Success can hinge on your site’s ability to do what it’s supposed to: help users accomplish their goals. With this in mind, site owners – from solo bloggers to billion dollar empires – all have many of the same questions when it comes to their online presence:

Within the first few seconds:

-       What’s the first thing users see on my website? Is it what I want them to see?

-       Do they know who I am/we are just by looking at the page?

-       If users land in the middle of my site (from a search, perhaps), will they know where they are?

-       Am I providing clear navigation that’s easy to see and understand?

On Service/Consultant Sites:

-       Can users find and view my portfolio or client list/testimonials?

-       Are users looking for pricing information, and if so, am I providing enough?

-       Do I really have enough content here to convince users to work with or contact me?

On Retail Sites:

-       Can users easily browse and search my products and inventory?

-       Are my products showing up correctly?

-       Is my shopping cart working?

Connecting with users:

-       Can users successfully sign up for my newsletter? (Would they want to?)

-       Have I built enough trust to convince users to give me their information?

-       Am I making it as easy as possible for users to contact me?

These questions will arise at different times, and you cannot assume all is well if you haven’t looked for yourself. At the same time, you cannot rely on users to alert you of any problems. In fact, some confused users may assume something is broken (even if it’s not) and move on to your competitor’s site instead.

As an online marketer or member of a web team, you must be proactive and anticipate needs before they arise.

Usability testing can help you discover the answers to these questions, allowing you to pinpoint ways to fix and optimize your site, as well as simply providing peace of mind. By interviewing just a handful of test subjects and watching them use your website to complete common tasks, you can gain a better understanding of how your future customers might consider you upon their first glance. And you can do all this on a very tight budget.

If you’ve ever had any of these questions about your website – and you should – then usability testing is for you. Spending an hour or so even once a month to ensure your site is working can answer all the questions you – or your boss – might have.

Want to get started with usability testing? Check out Steve Krug’s quintessential guide to usability, Don’t Make Me Think, and the downloadable guides and videos on his site, You can also stay current with experts on Twitter like Luke Wroblewski, Jared Spool, and IntuitionHQ.Marketing Zeus

Posted in: Content, Usability

About the Writer:

Born and raised in Boston, Dan Gorgone currently teaches Marketing and Business topics at Treehouse in Orlando, Fla. He has spent over a decade designing and managing websites for research, events, medical, real estate, and other international companies as well as freelance projects for independent artists and filmmakers. You can find him on Twitter (@dangorgone) dishing out usability tips and rooting for his beloved Red Sox.

View Full Bio »

More Articles