What is a usability audit and why are they important?
Usability audits provide a cost-effective method of updating the functionality of an existing website, potentially saving the need to invest in a completely new website. Understanding the impact of user experience issues on the customer journey and implementing best practice with a usability audit can turn an under-performing website into a streamlined system for generating leads and bolstering your brand's reputation.
If, however, you have identified the need to update, revamp or completely redesign your website, usability audits provide valuable insight. A usability audit essentially examines your existing offering to determine roadblocks along the user journey. Armed with the right information, you can plan for and avoid any issues in your future online offering.
Potential pain points for users may include areas that are confusing or slow which result in them bouncing and finding what they need elsewhere. Examples of these pain points include:
Our usability audits make the process of web refinement painless by clearly setting out areas that require improvement and enhancement.
We assess the factors that make up the user experience in order to identify changes that can increase your user engagement, page views, and conversion rate. Taking into account your specific objectives, our bespoke usability audit service delivers intuitive insight to drive improvements in customer satisfaction and business performance. Not only do we identify issues that need to be resolved, we also recommend the most effective ways to solve them, and put forward ideas for functions that will further enhance usability.
What do users want from a website? This can be divided into three key areas.
Here is an example to illustrate the importance of usability for potential customers, and why you risk losing business if your website is not fit for purpose:
Steve is visiting Stowmarket but doesn't know the area very well. He wants to get a haircut before he returns home. Steve searches on his phone for 'Best barber in Stowmarket'. The first search result website takes a long time to load and isn't optimised for mobile. Even if this barber offers the best haircut in town, they've lost Steve's business because he couldn't get the information he needed. He goes back to Google and clicks on the next result. He is directed to a responsive website with a clear 5 star review at the top of the page. Below this are the opening times, the address, and a click to call button.
So, what does this example show us? The second barber understood the context of mobile visitors to their site. Typically, these users are out and about and are looking for somewhere immediately. As such, they want to know whether the service is good, where it is, when it is open, and how to make contact. The first barber hadn't considered their mobile user. Despite having a higher SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position), they lost business because customer needs weren't met.
Similarly, most people using the internet appreciate good housekeeping. Therefore, without being well built and quick to load, even a website filled with relevant information/products/services won't convert. Poor navigation, or an inability to search on-site, can result in users leaving your site because they can't get what they want. User persona research and usability testing is essential for brands looking to improve users' online experience. Ultimately, both operations will iron out any issues that might slow down your process.
If meeting the needs of the user is integral to growing online conversions, timing is everything. Just as in the offline world, we can have a very short window to make the right impression when people visit our website. Generally, the way in which we browse the internet has meant that users have a fairly short attention span. So, present users with too many obstacles and they will leave your site in favour for another.
Determining user needs can be challenging if a company serves multiple user groups with differing objectives, contexts and ways of accessing information. It's difficult to be all things to all people. But this is where insight into audience profiles comes into its own. By understanding each group and what drives them, companies can organise their online presence to reflect each segment. A well-defined navigation system and user-centred online signposting can provide users from each group with the online experience they want.
Our usability audits typically measure a standard set of criteria known as Usability Heuristics, but the requirements of every individual site are taken into account depending on the purpose of the site and reasons for the audit. We also evaluate your competitors for strengths and weaknesses that will optimise your business's user engagement. The website speed and responsiveness on desktop and mobile, conversion rates, and ease of navigation through the site map and page structure are tested by our technical team. If the site has e-commerce functionality, the online ordering process is also tested from the perspective of a user, and conversion rate optimisation provides the insight you need to identify hitches in the path to purchase that may lead to drop off.
Using analytics data from Google Analytics, we record how the site is performing, from its Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP) for your targeted key terms to the bounce rate from individual pages. We also provide evidence of pages are the most popular, and whether these are the pages that should be receiving the most traffic. In addition, the content quality and information hierarchy will be gauged for effectiveness. We produce a report based on website usability and analytics data which provides clear and straightforward recommendations about where your website is performing well, and how the user experience can be improved.
Our technical team has a wealth of experience in all aspects of website design and digital marketing, from SEO to strategy. We are a full service agency, which means that we are ideally placed to help you with individual projects or every aspect of your online presence. If your user's needs aren't central to strategy, tactical marketing activities can fail to provide reasonable or measurable return on investment - that is why we are committed to helping you understand the results of our insight projects in order to apply them to best effect in your business.
Contact Mackman Research today and let's get started on your usability audit.
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