Increase the Usability of Your Website: Five Proven Strategies

A website is a critical asset for any business, and while design and copy can go a long way, one of the most important considerations is the usability of your site. How visitors interact with your site and how they experience your brand through your site is critical. When considering your website, you want to look for ways to increase the usability of your site.

If you’re not sure about the usability of your small business website, consider this — the goal of your site should be to keep people on the site and have them accomplish some type of goal while they’re there such contacting you, doing business with you or consuming your content.

While traffic is always a consideration for your website, what’s equally as important is how your visitors are interacting with your site. As a small business, the focus should be on quality, not necessarily quantity.

Even if you manage to have a thousand people click on your website, if they don’t actually stay on the site, or they never actually convert into being a paying customer then your website isn’t actually doing what you want it to.

Here are five proven strategies to increase the usability of your website:  

#1. Make It Mobile Friendly

In this day and age of smartphones and mobile devices, having your site be mobile friendly is a necessity.

As we discussed in a recent post, Google has started to penalize websites in search rankings if they’re not optimized for mobile.

There are a variety of reasons why not being mobile friendly can work against you, but the inability to effectively read and navigate the site is the main issue that will turn people off.

If your site is not designed to be viewed on a mobile device, it’s highly likely that pieces of your content may be cut off, forms or links may not be able to be accessed, and if it needs to run something like Flash it’s nearly impossible.

Having to constantly try and zoom in or out or manipulate the page can be tedious and frustrating and is a quick way to get people to leave your website. The more people that come and then leave quickly, the higher the bounce rate of your site, which also impacts your search engine rankings.

If you’re not sure how to tell if a site is mobile friendly, grab your smartphone or tablet, go to your website, and look for the following:

  • How quickly does the page load?
  • Can you easily see the selling points or main messages?
  • Is it easy to read?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Is there anything cut off or unreadable?
#2. Make Sure Your Contact Form is Easy to Find

There are few things as frustrating as being on a website trying to find the “contact us” section and not being able to quickly locate an address or phone number. As a local business, you NEED to be easy to find.

Most site visitors have the expectation of being able to communicate via email, even if just initially, so if they want to get in touch the first thing they’ll look for on your site is a contact form.

Your contact form should be prominently displayed and easily visible from any navigation point on your site, and the information included should be as clear as possible.  

Also, as a local business, your phone number should be prominently displayed on your site even if you don’t do a lot of business by phone. This is because of what’s called “NAP” which stands for name, address, and phone number. Ensuring your site has NAP is critical for your local organic search results in Google.

#3. Have An Online Scheduler

Like everything else online, people expect it to be easy when they want to book a consultation or appointment. And for someone who is on the fence, having the ability to book something right then and there may make the difference when it comes to choosing a business.

I’m the perfect example, I recently changed where I get my nails done after finding out a new local business enables you to schedule online. I’m loyal to my hairdresser not only because I love how she does my cut and color, but also because I don’t have to call to make my appointments.

People are busy and no one wants to have to get on the phone these days. In fact, with the world of e-commerce being as robust as it is, it shows that consumers are looking to do things in the easiest and quickest way possible.

There’s also the time factor to consider. If you’re paying someone to answer calls and book appointments or consultations, how much time could be saved in a week if the vast majority of appointment bookings were self-serve?

There’s an endless supply of options to choose from when it comes to online schedulers, like ScheduleOnce or Acuity Scheduling, so finding one that you can integrate into your site should be relatively easy.  The goal should be to enable your visitors to book quickly and easily at a day/time that suits their schedule.

#4. Make Your Content Easy to Share

It’s no secret that social media has taken over the internet, and the vast majority of people have at least one form of social media. Think about every time you look at your feed on Facebook or Twitter and see a post that is actually something people are sharing from someone else.

As people, we like to share. We want to show other people when we’ve found something interesting to us, or pass along something that we know someone else might like. Having sharing buttons enabled on your content is a way to facilitate that desire.

The best way to get more eyes on your content is to enable the people who are already following you to share it. And more shares will translate into more site traffic, which is what you want!

The good news is that with most sites, a social sharing function can be built in relatively easily so your site is ready to go. For WordPress sites, there are a number of plugins that can enable you to customize how, when and where your content can be shared.

#5. Build a Database of Subscribers

When it comes to marketing and growing your business, email addresses are incredibly valuable. Email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment of any marketing channel and generates a higher rate of conversion than any social media platform.

It’s not just about converting though. There are several other factors that make building a subscriber database very worthwhile for every local business.

The fact that you as the business owner actually own the email list is a huge benefit. You’re not relying on Facebook or Instagram or any other social media to connect with your customer base.

When you’re relying solely on social media to market to your base, you’re also at the whims of the company running the platform, like a change to the terms of service. When you have your own email list, you make the decisions about when and how to market directly to your database.

Another thing to consider is that an email is much more personal than a post on social media. The reader is in control. They can read it when they want and they can ask questions directly. Ultimately, they aren’t going to feel pushed to do anything RIGHT NOW because you’ve had time to establish a relationship with them and they know you aren’t going anywhere.

Recap: How to Increase the Usability of Your Website

When trying to be objective about the usability of your website, the most important question you should be asking yourself is…

“Would I spend time on this site if it wasn’t mine?”

If the answer is anything other than an enthusiastic yes, then you know it’s time to consider some updates.  Most updates can be done in a way that enables you to create an experience that serves your site visitors and supports your business goals in the process.

Maggie Patterson

Maggie Patterson

Principal Consultant at Scoop Studios
Maggie is Scoop's principal consultant and B2B customer case study expert. A Master Level Content Marketer she has over 15 years experience in working with customer success stories.
Maggie Patterson