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Before we jump into definitions, research and other nerdy delights, we should talk about why anyone should care about those things in the first place.
Why does usability matter?
Well, it boils down to competition. If there was only one dealership in the world, they could make people jump through hoops all day if they wanted to – and without any other options, people would do it. But, in reality, the car business is highly competitive, and if people can’t easily use one website, they’ll go to another. And that’s where usability can save a website.
What Is Usability?
Usability = ease of use. A complex subject explained in three beautifully simple words. Like usability itself, that definition is deceptively simple. The end result of usability may be easy to establish: does it work well or not? But getting there is where the complexity of usability comes out.
Usability has five components.
Learnability: How quickly does a user learn how the design of the website works?
Efficiency: How quickly can the user accomplish tasks once learning?
Memorability: How easily do users remember how to accomplish tasks if they haven’t used the site in a while?
Errors: How many errors do they make while trying to accomplish tasks?
Satisfaction: Does the design leave them with a good feeling?
Now that we’ve set those in stone, we have to admit there are actually additional components. The five above are what marketing and usability experts consider to be the key components, but they’re not universal (although they’re indispensable to guide your understanding). Others have quoted clarity, credibility, consistency, familiarity, and accessibility.
All these semi-subjective “components” can bog down the essence of usability. Usability, at it’s heart, is the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which a user achieves the specified goal.
To really make usability clear, we have to understand good usability. A website with good usability is immediately easy to use. The user doesn’t have to fumble around or click the wrong buttons a couple of times before figuring it out. Once acquainted with the website (and this acquaintance should only take a fraction of a second), the user should be able to quickly and efficiently accomplish their task. This includes the speed of the website, ease of navigation, and smoothness of transitions. The user should be able to complete their desired task without making any errors or having the website make any errors to delay them, and throughout the process, the user should feel (even subconsciously) satisfied, at ease, and trusting of the website. This should all be so easy and exact that the user shouldn’t even have to think about using the website.
By now, you certainly know what usability is, so we should move on to how it pays to invest in usability.
Website Usability and ROI
While the internet is improving in quality (which means less terrible websites), usability still has a massive ROI. For certain industries, and we believe the car business is one of these, many businesses have been lagging behind the rest of the internet in terms of usability, and so the ROI is even greater. Dealerships that capitalize on the moment and improve their usability will see their competition begin to fall behind.
But enough of the preaching. Let’s lay down some of these sweet statistics.
Nielsen reports that overall KPI improvement rates for designing for usability is 83%.
User Interface Engineering found that by providing customers with sufficient information at the time they need it increases website sales by 225%.
Creative Good discovered that providing a better experience for customers increases the number of purchasers by 40%
And, for the cherry on top, in a 2016 study, Forrester reports that, on average, every dollar invested in UX (user experience) brings 100 in return. A ROI of 9,900%.
The exact statistics vary a lot, and it’s clear that not all businesses or industries experience the benefits of usability the same way. But it’s also clear that investing in usability is a universally good idea and a rock solid business decision.
The avalanche of awesome usability statistics aside, usability is a wonderful thing. All the champions of the Internet Age are devout worshipers in the temple of user experience. Google. Amazon. Netflix. Facebook. Sure, they provide great services, but the way they provide them, their websites, are all built around the user, and we love them for it. That’s the true beauty of usability. It’s not just helpful web design, it’s a relationship with the user – one that can make a business extremely profitable.