Website Usability Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions on Website Usability

L’homme de l’ecosse understands that human psychology affects how long a website visitor hangs around.  We also know that website usability translates as user-friendly which means repeat business.

What is website usability?

Usability is a measure of how user-friendly your web site is.  There are many schools of thought on usability with different theories and commandments.  Many companies make a lot of money fixating on the theories of the most widely known advocates.  However, the goal is KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid.  Putting the first-time visitor to your website completely at ease and then selling to them.

Why is Usability important?

Usability directly impacts your bottom line!  The human factor, or how the majority of potential online customers react to your company’s web design, is at work even BEFORE the first page of your site loads.

People on the Internet hate to wait and if your web pages are slow to load they are going to move on and not come back.  Unless you deal only Business to Business (B2B) with mid-to-large size businesses, who have broadband high-speed Internet connections, you cannot assume your customers will wait on your web pages.

What are the basics of usability?

Usability is not a single quality but has six components:

  1. Familiarity:
    Does the site have all the important common practices which tells the user immediately he/she will have no surprises navigating his/her way around.
  2. Ease of learning:
    How quickly can a first-time visitor learn to use the web site.
  3. Efficiency of use:
    How fast can an experienced visitor achieve his/her objectives?
  4. Memorability:
    If a visitor has used the site before, can he/she remember enough to use it more effectively next time?
  5. Error minimisation:
    How often do users make errors while using the site? How severe are the consequences?  How easily can users get back on the right track?
  6. Subjective satisfaction:
    How much does each user like using the site?

How does L’homme de l’ecosse integrate usability into its work?

We work with each client to tailor their Internet presence to be as human and inviting as the best sales person.  Everything is considered: colour schemes, layout, fonts, monitor resolutions, types of digital presentations, pro-active strategies for repeat business, use of graphics and most importantly page content.

The design goal is that no one leave the site for any reason other than the client does not have what the online user is seeking.

Are there priorities in usability?

Yes, and they are sequence driven.  Website page loading times must be minimal, the page aesthetics must be attractive, the layout should not cause any confusion and last but most importantly the content must be concise.  Writing is a creative art – but web writing needs to be usable.  The user is asking “is this (website) what I was looking for?”

Reading from a computer screen is slower than reading from paper.  Most people want to quickly scan information and read only small sections.  Write in small chunks with many headings.  Cut out unnecessary words.  Use lists and tables so people can find information quickly.  Follow these guidelines on all pages of your website.

How does usability apply to eCommerce?

More efficient user tasks lead to better sales.  Increased satisfaction leads to increased trust and helps to strengthen company’s brand.  Increased effectiveness, satisfaction and trust lead to increased customer loyalty, and to more repeat customers, who, on the average, spend more than the first-timers.  Reduced errors and more effective user activities lead to a higher percentage of successful transactions, at same cost of hardware and software.

If you invest in the usability of your website, it is possible to significantly increase sales, number of registered users and other metrics – without any other costs.  A study by Jakob Nielsen produced these statistics for usability-focused redesigns of eCommerce systems:

 Usability can decrease website costs.  Upfront usability analysis and design can identify extraneous features, which can then be eliminated simplifying the system.  Users prefer websites with superior usability and fewer “frills” options: they are surfing online to save time first and foremost.

What should be done before usability implementation?

You could show your site to people in the office or your friends and family.  If they liked it, does it mean it is usable?

When a group of people sit around a comfortable table munching snacks, they’re easily wowed by presentations of a website’s fancy features and multimedia design elements.  Get those same people to sit alone at a computer, and they’re likely to leave the same website in short order.  But having them sit in front of the same computer with a usability expert looking over their shoulder asking the proper questions will work.  Seeing something demonstrated and actually having to use it are two very different things.

Post-implementation, surveys of customers who used the website to make their purchase can help.


If you are thinking about building new or revamping your current web site, I suggest you get in touch with me today and let’s exchange ideas for a more profitable company website.