Why Usability is Vital to Your Online Store
There’s more to online business than uploading your products and pressing “sell”!
The benefits of having an online store for your business are plentiful. Increased visibility, a worldwide market and no “closed” hours thanks to around-the-clock trading are a huge plus for any business, and if executed correctly your business will profit hugely from digital transformation. Everyone is selling online now, but what are the most important features of an ecommerce website?
Usability can be overlooked by first-time ecommerce shop builders. So much emphasis is now placed on website content and layout – which are indeed important – that the actual functionality of the website can slip through the net. However, it is vital to remember that usability is central to your site’s success. How can your business hope to trade successfully online if your site is difficult to navigate?
What is website usability and why is it important?
Website usability is pretty self explanatory: it’s the ease of use of your website. The way it looks isn’t the only important factor here; usability is all about the way your site functions. This means delving into the backend of the website and being sure that the sitemap is easily navigable: can your customers easily identify and follow the journey to purchase from each of your landing pages? Are products clear, concise and clearly priced?
The enemies of site usability are ambiguity and incoherence. Your customers should be left in no doubt over what they should do to make a purchase, and they should be informed at all points of purchase about the contract they’re entering into, including product information, shipping details and additional information such as contact details.
Website usability is vital for your business as it will boost your conversion rates. Should potential customers find your site difficult to navigate – or confusing, contradictory or slow – they are highly likely to abandon their purchase and go elsewhere. Remember that the impersonal nature of selling online means that there’s a distinct lack of personal rapport between your brand and your customers, and they aren’t likely to display enough loyalty to persevere with their purchase if it’s a laborious process.
Not only does site usability keep your customers happy, it will keep the search engines happy too. Google, Bing, Yahoo and others will scan your site and rank it using a variety of criteria. The way your site is built is central to this site ranking, and as part of your search engine optimisation efforts you should be sure to make usability a priority. The search engines’ main priority is to make surfing the ‘net a quick, easy and safe experience for their users, so this should also be your aim. Including clear points of purchase, a short, simple purchase process and relevant, factual information that will help your customers are three great ways to tick the usability box with search engines.
In addition to the ease of use, the availability of your website is a big part of site usability. After all, if your site isn’t available it won’t be very usable! Investing in powerful and reliable website hosting is essential for all businesses who want to provide a consistent and high quality experience for their customers. If your sites are receiving ample traffic they should be running a dedicated server with high bandwidth to ensure your website data is transferred to your potential customers in real time and without delay or interruption.