What do we measure when we measure usability? Well, we might measure how effective, efficient, flexible and satisfactory a product is. These words are big and abstract. To put it in context, when we measure usability we are testing whether or not a software or website are designed correctly for their intended purposes. For example if you have an online shop, usability wants to make sure that your customers can easily access the Purchase button. Since the purpose of your online shop is to let customers Purchase products. If your customers are having difficulty finding and accessing the Purchase button because of a poor user experience, your business is losing potential customers and therefore money.
You want a healthy user experience for a healthy business. You can’t sit on the fence, because improving usability is part of an ongoing long term business commitment.
Forrester’s report calculates a 9,900% return on investment, with every one dollar invested in user experience bringing a return of 100. So how usable is your site?
You need to manage the usability of your website using facts and figures and make decisions accordingly. Metrics give us you a way to assess the quality of the user experience. Usability is relative to various factors and is compared against different benchmarks. One is being relative to users’ performance against sets of goal-directed tasks, for example: a user is able to buy an item from your online shop in a short time. This metric is measuring effectiveness of your website. Another usability metric is conversion rates. For example measuring whether or not users are transitioning from the shopping basket to checkout. Usability metrics let us track the progress of a product, assess competitive products (where we stand), and make executive and managerial decisions accordingly.
Usability has a significant role in each phase of a product design lifecycle and that’s why it’s essential to have multiple usability studies in every step. For example, a usability study before re-designing a software or a website will help us identify what to keep and improve and what to get rid of and fix. Another usability study can focus on the competitive sites to learn what is particularly special about their user experience and if it might also be useful to the usability of your site.
A healthy user experience is part of an iterative design process, crucially starting at the early stages of the design process and maintaining testing throughout.