Usability and User Experience (UX) are terms thrown around almost interchangeably in our digital world – but what do they mean?

How do usability and UX differ and how can you use them to improve your customer’s digital journey?

 

Usability

When assessing your customer’s digital journey for usability ask yourself, “how easy is our website to use?”

A good way to assess usability is to conduct user testing. This doesn’t need to be overly scientific (though it can be) – simply asking someone to carry out a certain task (such as finding a specific product, adding it to basket and checking out) will suffice. There’s a lot to be said for a fresh pair of eyes! Things to look for include:

  • Navigation
    Do your headings make sense? Are they adequately descriptive of what is on the page? Will they help your customer to find what they’re looking for with ease?
  • Clicks
    How many clicks does it take a user to find what they’re looking for? Adding vertical drop-down menus for category pages can help. The less clicks the better!
  • Scrolling
    Are your pages unnecessarily long? How far are users scrolling before they bounce? Heat map analysis can help you to determine where your page fold (the point of drop-off) is – try using Hotjar.
  • Readability
    It is vital to consider how your copy flows on each page (aim for short sentences and paragraphs, with good spaces in-between) and how easy the typography is to read. Do your fonts render well in small sizes?
  • Checkout
    How easy is it to purchase your products or carry out any other conversions on site? Are your data capture forms arduous? Can you make them easier to complete by adding postcode lookups or removing unnecessary fields?

Top Tip: New GDPR rules coming into force make it even more vital to assess what data you are capturing.

Either ask your tester to reflect on their experience after completing a task or observe them whilst completing it. Be sure to look for roadblocks which impede their digital journey and seek to rectify these to improve conversion.

Read More: How To Optimise Your Content For Conversion

 

User Experience (UX)

UX takes usability one step further by asking, “how enjoyable is our website to use?”

The key thing to remember when it comes to UX is the importance of achieving a balance between form and function. A good website should be aesthetically pleasing and straightforward to operate. Things to consider include:

  • Consistency
    Keep things simple by using common web build and navigation structures. Use the same tone of voice throughout (trousers should always be trousers, not pants on one page and trousers on another).
  • Page speed
    Not only is slow page loading annoying for users and likely to increase your bounce rate, it will also cause Google to penalise you. Check your site speed with Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Mobile
    How easy is your site to use on smaller screens? Are windows easy to close? Do drop down menus still work? If someone has to use their pinky finger to navigate, your buttons are too small!
  • Breadcrumbs
    Like Hansel and Gretel marking their way back home, website users also like crumb trails to remind them of where they are and how they got there.
  • Interactivity
    We recently discussed the huge benefits associated with using video. Any interactive elements, including games and quizzes, are likely to encourage users to engage with your brand through its design – so get creative!

Top Tip: Zoom your web page out as far as possible and use your creative eye to see how it looks and flows.

When it comes to UX, the most important content on any page should be immediately obvious and fit reading patterns. In English speaking countries we scan pages from left to right, whilst the opposite is true for countries where languages are read from right to left. Keep this holistic approach in mind with all usability and UX work and your customer’s digital journey will be a cinch.

Read More: Why All Brands Need To Think About Social Video