Design Resources: Web Design and Usability

A company web site that is lagging behind in web site design, functionality and content may be hurting your business more than you may think. A recent study by Enterpulse, an Atlanta GA e-business consulting firm, has shown that among 300 individuals who use the web at least once a day, that people’s online expectations have risen dramatically over the last few years. The study also found that these 300 individuals were quick to reject any web site that hasn’t kept up with the times. Expectation are even higher in the business world where 89 percent of business people aren’t impressed with the web site designs of the websites they visit and 66 percent rarely return to websites where they’ve had a bad experience.

The study found that, while most sites today provide adequate basics, most sites are unprepared to reach the next level of user expectations. The large majority of web site operators aren’t even aware that they are not meeting user expectations and don’t know how many people stop doing business with them because of the negative impression created by their web site.

A majority of business professionals surveyed complained about websites that are difficult to navigate, lack interactive tools to help them make decisions and fail to remember who they are. Most professionals say they have no patience for websites that don’t deliver these customer-friendly features. In fact, 66 percent say they rarely – if ever – return to a site once they’ve had a bad experience.

Four keys components that make up a great web site are:

  • Content – 96 percent of those surveyed said that web site content had to be continually updated.
  • Navigation – 96 percent felt that a web site had to be easy to navigate.
  • In-depth Information – 93 percent said a web site must have in-depth information on its subject.
  • Response Time – 89 percent said they demand quick load and response time.

Survey results said:

-- 90 percent of those surveyed said they expect companies to respond to questions submitted via their websites within 24 hours. And 58 percent wanted that response even quicker – in less than eight hours.

-- Almost 80 percent of visitors feel that business websites tend to be designed from an internal company perspective versus a user perspective.

-- Nearly half said business websites are not always easy to navigate.

Companies with websites that are dragging behind are putting their business at risk. A bad web site design could damage public perception and branding. Fortunately, there are signs that indicate whether a web site is a hazard or a boon for a business and they are easy to track:

-- A high number of abandoned shopping carts, which could indicate that the purchase process is too cumbersome.

-- Low conversion rates due to a drop in the number of buyers while the number of visitors has increased or remained is usually a sign that something is not working.

-- A high number of visitors that look at only at one or two pages and then leave.

-- Broken links – if users click on a link and it is not taking them anywhere.