Website Usability: Virtual Elephants of the Internet Room

Website UsabilityImagine a reputable tool provider creating a complete, all-in-one handheld device for carpenters and DIY specialists alike.  However, imagine, upon placing it in one’s hand, immediate confusion sets in.  The maze of intricate parts intimidates the user, ultimately rendering the device literally useless.

In this case, the tool provider failed in providing an integral element: usability.  Websites, like the imaginary tool, work the same way, possibly frustrating consumers who are not deeply experienced or reluctant to provide personal information, credit card numbers, etc, or, worst-case scenarios cannot navigate or understand a given site.

Multi Device

Accounting for multi-device use is an integral failure of a number of current-day brands.  Some offenders, being very popular brands, surprise consumers who have grown accustomed to acquiring information quickly as well as purchasing goods and services efficiently.

If a mobile experience greatly pales in comparison to a desktop version, a brand may quickly use a consumer’s advocacy to another brand that provides an efficient web browsing experience.  Additionally, warped images and prices could account for lost online opportunity and poor user experience.  Imagine two vendors, offering services at the same low price, competing for the same target market, yet one site clearly marks pricing while the other’s graphics are poor and cutoff at the end.

Ad Walls

Ad walls are proposed as marketing elements to webmasters who seek to capitalize on visitors, quickly offering a white paper or future posts in exchange for the reader’s email address, etc.

Consider the implementation of ad walls on one’s site, especially being empathetic of your target market’s trajectory in the sales cycle.  Will interrupting their shopping/viewing truly create more conversions in the end, or will the ad wall or some other (possibly intrusive) element of marketing sour user experience?  Don’t think like a business owner but a consumer.


The Zero Moment of Truth symbolizes the moment a consumer is faced with a need for information that precedes an eventual purchase.  If a number of ‘needs’ are met, in theory, an eventual conversion can be expected.

Usability is inextricably connected with an online vendor’s ZMOT.  For example, marketing gurus observe trust as an integral element.  If a site’s links are broken or lead browsers to conflicting pages, trust may be lost.  Furthermore, elements symbolizing authority, such as testimonials and ‘as featured in’ banners, help facilitate trust and lessen buyer reluctance.

Less Is More

Once again, a business owner must consider the consumer regarding usability and the amount of information and media on a given page.  For example, a consumer, wanting to learn about an intricate science, may expect long pages of information along with graphs and charts.  In contrast, a consumer looking to purchase shoes may need little text but large pictures (with multiple views) to satiate their respective consumer endeavor.

In many cases, less is more regarding a web browser’s quality of searching.  Consider the amount of information relayed above the fold (so a browser does not have to scroll down); instate menu bars (to provide a macro view of the site); and, supply a site with a rational and helpful flow of interlinks to facilitate easy navigation.

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