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Usability and User Experience - What You Need to Know

Alekh Verma | February 7, 2023
usability UX

Usability and user experience are an integral part of every website. In nowadays’ competitive landscape, if businesses want to succeed online, it’s more vital than ever that they have a well-designed and functional digital property, as well as an in-depth understanding of what makes it user-friendly and provides a satisfying experience to visitors…

However, there still are companies that look at usability and user experience as sheer technicalities, and this holds them back from discovering their real value in growing their operation.

In this article, we’ll explain what are the main differences between user experience and usability, and how both affect a business’s online presence and customer satisfaction.

Usability Vs. User Experience

In web design, usability refers to how easily 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-user friendly.

User Experience, on the other hand, is all about how people feel when they interact with a given website.

In a nutshell, usability is about functionality, while UX is about the personal experience of the website visitor.

Both UX and usability are important because:

  • If users can’t find what they need on your website, they may become frustrated.
  • The more complicated your website is to use, the higher the bounce rate will be.
  • Bad UX results in fewer return visitors, reduced referral traffic, and even reduced conversion rates.

Visual Website Factors That Affect Usability and User Experience

The following factors affect the usability and user experience of your website and should be optimized to be visually pleasing and intuitive.

Font Size and Colour: 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.

Branding: Brand elements let users know that they’re on your website. According to eye movement studies, the ideal place for placing 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.

Layout Colours: If you want to convey your brand and create an aesthetic appeal, the colours on your website must be consistent. colours should contribute to the readability of your pages, and highlight the hierarchy of other information on your website.

Navigation: When a person opens a website, they usually need to get from point A to point B as fast and as easily as possible. For that reason, you should provide proper navigation that supports their experience throughout the pages.

Content: You should structure and organize the content on your pages into manageable portions to better readability. You can achieve that through headings, sub-headings, and concise paragraphs that won’t overwhelm the reader.

What Is User Experience?

User experience includes all aspects of the end user’s interaction with a product or service. Usability is an important aspect of the overall user experience, but it is not the only one. If only usability is considered, many other aspects of the experience are overlooked and user’s needs can’t be fully met.

Unlike usability, user experience goes beyond the user interface. There are other critical aspects of the product or service that need to be explored in order to get a full picture of the product or service. These aspects include:

  • Functionality: Does the product or service meet the end user’s needs? Can a user use it to do what they need to do? Are the tasks and information a user would want made available?
  • Findability: Are users able to find what they’re looking for? Can users find the product itself using external search engines? Are navigational elements clear and informative?
  • Trust: Does the product, service, and/or company seem credible? Is it easy to contact a real person or find support information? Does the content seem genuine and up to date?
  • Value: Is the product or service desirable to the end user? Can a user easily describe its value? Does it improve customer satisfaction?
  • Accessibility: Can it be accessed via all channels and devices? Are all potential end users, including those with disabilities, being considered?
  • Delight: Are users’ expectations not only met, but exceeded? Are there differentiators from other similar experiences, or is anything being provided that is pleasantly unexpected? Does it bring a user joy?

Asking these questions about a product or service is part of our initial UX review and digital product strategy services. During this process, we go beyond simply testing the usability of the design to understand the entire user experience. It’s not only about asking users if they can efficiently complete a task; we want to know whether our design would add value to their lives, provide the functionality they need, and constitute a more delightful experience than what they’re used to.

So, user experience is all about providing people with a relevant, efficient and purposeful experience whether they are using a product, service, or website. It’s also a part of web design where a user’s emotions and perspective should be taken into account.

Factors That Affect UX

There are 7 vital factors that affect your product/website user experience:

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.

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.

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.

CREDIBLE

Credibility is an important part of a good user experience and with the Google E-A-T update, is now even a ranking factor. You rarely get a second chance to impress users so make sure the information you add on your website is clear, sufficient, accessible, and, above all, genuine.

Highlight testimonials, images of your team, certificates, industry recognition badges, and similar social proof showcasing your company’s good reputation.

DESIRABLE

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

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

ACCESSIBLE

Accessibility is one of the most neglected aspects of user experience. It’s all about making your website easy to navigate by all types of users, especially those with disabilities such as hearing loss, impaired vision, or poor motor skills.

Furthermore, if you design for accessibility, you’ll often end up with a website that is more user-friendly to everyone.

VALUABLE

At last, your website should deliver value to its visitors and be useful. By providing value to your customers, you improve their experience with your brand, build a connection, and, ultimately, encourage conversions.

Why Is UX Important?

As you can see, focusing only on certain aspects will only get you so far in designing for great user experiences. After all, an easy-to-use product isn’t as valuable if it isn’t accurately reflecting users’ needs. Designing a great user experience—including a usable interface—will ensure that you are making products that work, and that keep users happy. Happy users will return to an interface again, and are more likely to tell other people about it too.

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

By focusing on good user experience, you can create an interface where people intuitively find their way around your website without having to 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?

Usability 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 how easy a user can accomplish a task. It all comes down to thinking about your users and how the elements of your website will help them navigate your pages.

Why Is Usability Important?

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

The Attributes of Website Usability

There are several vital characteristics that shape the usability of web experience:

EFFECTIVENESS

Effectiveness refers to the accuracy in which the users can achieve their objectives on your website. To improve it, you should examine and optimize each stage of the user journey.

Your messages should be as clear and meaningful as possible. Re-examine your web navigation elements. If people have too many touch points 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 they are looking for on your website?

Again, you need to analyse 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 should observe and analyze how people use your website (both on mobile and desktop) 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 the looks. The website also must work right. You need, among other things, appropriate layouts, readable typefaces, and easy navigation to achieve greater user engagement.

ERROR TOLERANCE

For better usability, you should make an effort to minimize errors on your site. You should also ensure that users are not affected negatively when errors do occur, and that they 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 complex terminology should be kept to a minimum.

SIMPLICITY OF LEARNING

If you want recurring visitors, you should make your website easy to use.

When you add new features to your website, you should provide instructions on how to use them. If you don’t, you might turn a satisfied user into a frustrated one, especially if they can’t find their way around the new additions.

The best way to teach your users about innovations is to ensure that the new features match the user’s mental journey on the website. 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 towards good usability and user experience. Your content should be split between multiple pages, and pages with menus.

Enhanced Performance

With core web vitals becoming a ranking factor, your website performance can become the difference between customers choosing you and opting for a competitor. Your pages’ loading speed, content responsiveness, and stability affect both usability and user experience and should be optimized accordingly.

If that’s not the case, your ranking will suffer, and, what’s more, visitors will leave and you’ll miss out on potential conversions.

Better Readability

If the design of your website contributes to a poor reading experience, then you may have a problem. 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. This will compromise all your SEO and content marketing efforts and will hurt your overall business success.

Mobile Responsiveness

Today, people consume more content on their smartphones rather than on their laptops. Mobile responsiveness is integral for good usability. Furthermore, with Google’s mobile-first indexing, having a properly functioning mobile version of your website became vital for your online presence and the organic traffic to your website.

Responsive design enables your site to work smoothly regardless of the screen that it’s being displayed on, and this dramatically improves the user experience.

What Are the Main Differences Between User Experience and Usability?

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

In terms of website goals, usability exists to make the website easy to use, while user experience should leave a positive impression, throughout and after using the website. In other words, 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 people. This includes 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 their 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.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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