The eCommerce industry is growing, and the number of online shops available is growing rapidly. In addition to one’s own brand and products, one feature is increasingly emerging that largely determines the success of shops: usability.
What is usability optimization?
First of all, it is important to correctly differentiate between usability and user experience. The use of a page can be divided into three periods: before use, during use, and after use. The UX looks at all three sections and makes evaluation statements based on the totality of all the data. Usability refers solely to the period of use.
Usability is therefore a part of the user experience. Due to its enormous complexity, however, this is a full-fledged design discipline. However, optimizing the usability of a page can be very complex and can quickly lead to things getting worse if the user data is not interpreted correctly.
Below, we have summarised 10 tips from our practical experience that can help you optimize the usability of your website.
Tip #1: The earlier you start, the better!
Usability tests thrive on data. The more data you have, the better statements you can make about your site. So start collecting user feedback as early as possible. This can also include, for example, integrating a tracking tool such as Hotjar on the page.
Tip #2: Clarify the most important questions.
The usability of a page and the resulting usability optimization can be measured in its main features using a few parameters:
- intuitive operation
Tip #3: Reduce the visible options.
A user looks for elements on a page that invite or prompt them to interact. If there are not enough interaction elements, or if they do not tempt the customer to act in a targeted manner, a bounce can occur, and the customer leaves the page without interacting. If there are too many calls-to-action (CTAs)—or too pushy—the user can leave the page due to sensory overload out of frustration.
Avoid these jumps with target group-specific CTAs that are used judiciously. Give the various interaction options their own hierarchy with an individual design.
Tip #4: Think in heuristics.
In order to optimize the usability of a page, you must be able to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. How does the visitor experience your site while using it? With what intention does he come to your side? They must try to develop statements or solutions that are as probable as possible with limited data.
Tip #5: Specify usage requirements.
The usability optimization of a shop focuses on the user as part of the UX. In order to be able to improve the usability of your shop, you must not only understand the requirements of your users but also be able to anticipate and satisfy them.
Tip #6: Planning and Preparation
The usability optimization of a shop is no small thing, but it can represent a significant intervention in the functionality of your shop. In order not to negatively influence usability in the worst case, you should plan several intermediate steps for optimization and plan all changes thoroughly.
The most important intermediate steps in usability optimization are:
- Conception workshop (scribble): sketching of the site and the new content
- Wireframe: an arrangement of non-design elements (placeholders) to plan the layout of the page and the placement of content and interaction elements
- Click Dummy: an interactive demo of the page with the finished design
- User Testing: Live testing of users and their interactions with the site
- Launch and Beyond: Bring the changes to your site online and start monitoring.
Tip #7: Test regularly, and do it right!
In order to continuously keep the usability of your site at a good level, you must regularly carry out a survey in the form of a usability test. In a usability test, you carry out an evaluation and assessment of the usability of your site. It is important that this test be based on recognised heuristics and guidelines and carried out by an experienced expert.
There are different approaches and options for the success of your usability test. Possible forms of collection are, for example:
- Expert Review: one or more experts evaluate the usability of a system, usually using a combination of cognitive walkthrough and heuristic evaluation, a way of particularly fast validation of a page that has been proven to identify the most important potential for optimization.
- Laboratory test Test with subjects in a test laboratory. There are numerous different variants for this: moderated tests, unmoderated tests, task-related tests, eye-tracking, etc.
- Online surveys are quantitative surveys with a typically larger sample. These can be used, for example, to inquire about the intention to access a website.
- Focus groups—moderated discussion rounds with users and experts: Collection of a few but very detailed requirements and expectations of your core target group.
- Card sorting is the arrangement of the information architecture by test subjects in order to check the page structure of a page for its logic.
Tip #8: Conduct interviews properly.
In a moderated usability test or an interview with a survey of subjects, the moderators can quickly have a significant impact on the opinions and statements of the subjects. Therefore, avoid creating prejudices in your subjects with introductory sentences. Statements such as “We have been working on this shop for a long time and would like to ask your opinion” directly imply that you, as the questioner, have a bond with the test object. For fear of offending you, the subjects could make a false statement and thus falsify your data.
Subjects are often best at expressing their opinions when they are unobserved and in a relaxed or familiar environment.
Tip #9: The ROI of usability
An important factor to consider is the return on investment (ROI) of usability optimization. Higher usability leads to fewer user errors, shorter integration times, lower support costs, higher customer satisfaction, increased conversion rates, and higher customer loyalty. Every investment in successful usability optimization leads to an increase in sales and profits.
The ROI factor of sustainable usability optimization is 10–100.
Tip #10: Usability brings brand awareness.
The usability of your site is not only part of the overall user experience (UX), but also affects the perception of your brand. A shop with good usability is recommended more often than a non-functional shop. Showing your customers that you value your work by presenting it in an appealing way creates a positive brand perception.
Conclusion: Usability optimization is complex but useful.
The biggest challenge of usability optimization is correctly interpreting the collected data. The proposed solutions developed from the data must also be used carefully and purposefully in order not to lead to a deterioration in usability. Changes must be controlled, deviations in user behaviour evaluated, and, if necessary, answered with reactions.
Ideally, usability optimization is something that you do not do at intervals but develop into a standard process in your company. If you have any questions or need help optimizing the usability of your shop, please feel free to contact us. We are on hand with help and advice.