How to Create User Experiences That Impact the Bottom Line
Why invest in user experience? Because the benefits are tangible — boosting usability results in a permanent increase in conversion over the life of a website. This means that the cost of the usability improvement can be amortized over a very long period, which decreases the total cost per sale.
Website visitors come to a site to do a specific job or to perform a specific task. The more that your company can do to accommodate, the better the user's experience will be. A more usable website will not only create a better first impression, but it paves the way toward building a healthy long-term relationship with customers.
Understand the customer
Usability isn't just about words and images, and how they're arranged on a screen. Increasing the usability of your website begins with knowing your customer. The website development process needs to have a user-centered philosophy, both at the end-user level and at the production level. It's important to understand market segments, customer demographics and psychographics, including customer motivations and their end goal.
Additionally, it's important for designers to understand customers’ mental models and task flows. Are they experts or novices? Do they know insider terminology or are they lamebrained? These and other pieces of information are essential to building trust, and factor into the use of persuasive architecture and the design of templates, images and text.
Measure for success
Both during the design process and over the life of your website, remember to measure usability and determine its contribution to the site's return on investment. A website sponsored by the U.S. government, Usability.gov, is a good starting point for learning more about usability basics.
Establishing overall baseline metrics is key. The most important objective measures specifically tied to usability include error reductions; whether visitors can find the pages they're looking for; and whether a change results in an increase of pages viewed or reduced or increased conversion rates. In addition, metrics such as clickstreams, unique page visits, page downloads and other web analytics round out the picture.
Related story: 6 Usability Basics for Landing Page Optimization