design

July 23, 2020   |   4min read

Why is Usability the Key to Your Product's Success?

The popularity of your product or service among the users is influenced by many factors. Those include how well a product is tailored to the user group, demand on the market, or good marketing promotion. However, there is one key aspect that should be considered when designing products. It can decide whether you win or go home. In a word—usability.

What is usability?

Imagine that you are out of almond flour or a different hard-to-get product. You can either drive to a store located 30 minutes away or purchase it online, using the next-day delivery option. Driving is out of the question, so you decide to use the online store. Unfortunately, the entire process is slow, you lost your way on the site a couple of times, you can’t find the cart, and when you do find it, it turns out you added 10 kg of almond flour by accident. Then, you can delete the unnecessary packages—you want to buy just one after all. However, you can’t do that—you need to delete everything and start over. We can assume that you would leave the cart frustrated and either go for the drive or search for another e-store, in which the prices might not be so reasonable, but the process would be much more enjoyable.

The above-presented process has nothing to do with usability. It often happens that when designing a website, the creators use ready-made solutions, which are not always right for their target group. Moreover, they don’t test them, because pushing the website or product live is the priority. This, however, could prove costly—that’s why many people agree that usability is the key factor in building good products. It can influence user engagement, such as conversion rate. Why?

When building a product or a solution, we, first and foremost, think about the end-user. In the user-centered design theory, the users are placed at the forefront of your concern. They are the ones who should be happy with what we are offering to become a regular client and a devoted follower. That is why usability is so important in UX design. Usability is basically how easily users will be able to accomplish their goals.

Nielsen’s 5 rules of usability

It’s theory time. It’s highly likely that you have never heard of Jakob Nielsen (at least if you are not a designer yourself). Believe me when I say that he is a major figure in the website and digital product design industries. Jakob Nielsen is the co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, one of the biggest consulting firms for website usability and more. In his view, usability consists of five key elements.

  • Learnability—how easily users can reach their goal during the first contact with the website?
  • Efficiency—how quick users can perform a given action if they already know the site?
  • Memorability—how easy it is for the users to come back to perform a given action on the website after a long period without use? Would they need to learn it again?
  • Errors—how many errors do the users make on the website, and how easily can they return to performing the previous action? Is there any tool, like onboarding or a guide, implemented on the website to help users decrease the number of mistakes they make while trying to complete the process? (a short explanation here: users do not make mistakes; it refers to how often the users click something accidentally or derail from the path that leads to their objective)
  • Satisfaction—do the users find the use of the website enjoyable?

These are the questions that you should answer when designing a website and have them in mind when testing your product.

A woman performing tests

When should you perform usability tests?

For your product to be user-friendly, you need to test it continuously. One test is not enough to say that your product is intuitive and will bring your clients satisfaction. There are a few crucial moments when you should perform usability tests when designing products.

You are planning the creation of your product. No doubt, you have a list of potential competitors. Benchmarking is the bare minimum. Go through the processes that your competitors offer and list the things you like, don’t like, and the ones you think are missing. This will be the basis for the initial stage of working on your product.

Your product is already available, but you feel the need for change. Before you start designing new functionalities, test your current website. Perform tests with your target group. It’s important that the testers were not involved in the creation of the site. Ask them to do a specific task and observe them. That way, you will be able to notice problems, which the users face. If you want to know more about how to test users, read the article on how to conduct user research .

Your product is already available, you feel the need for change, but you don’t want to do it yourself. UX audit, or usability audit, will be beneficial in this scenario. It’s a service offered by an agency, during which specialists, such as UX designers, will test your solution, having all the requirements and norms in mind. Why do you need a professional usability audit? Simply, it’s performed by people who know their stuff and have access to specialized tools to get the job done well. If you need help with a usability audit, contact the Utilo team.

You design new functionalities. It might be that you are certain of the new functionality’s usefulness and how it should work because you have done so many times before. Nothing further from the truth. The key is to perform multiple usability tests—on UX mockups, UI mockups, and then, in the test environment during the initial implementation. You might say it’s an overkill. In my opinion, such an attitude can save you from making several mistakes.

I hope that this short story about usability helped you understand why it is important to design useful products for your users. If you have questions or verify whether your product is useful—send us a message, we will be glad to tell you more and brainstorm on how we can help you.

Kasia Zając

Product Owner

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