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Importance of Web Site Usability

     On many Web sites, you can personalize Web pages and they will remember your preferences. But, do Web surfers really want personalized Web pages?

Research

     Jupiter Research came up with interesting data. About 50% of Internet users want to see better basic Web site usability, such as faster loading and easier site navigation, rather than personalizing pages. Here are the results of the research:

Which of the following features would make you visit/patronize/buy more from a certain site?


Content

Services

Commerce

Pages load quickly

54%

41%

37%

Site was easy to navigate

52%

50%

48%

Ease of registration/check-out/login

28%

44%

42%

Pages are easy to read/not confusing

35%

37%

27%

Search function works well

32%

17%

30%

None

16%

22%

22%

Ability to customize site to my needs

8%

11%

4%

Personalized offers/recommendations

8%

7%

14%

     This is most likely because Internet users are goal-oriented, meaning they want to find the best deal, buy a particular title of video game, and so on. They want to finish the job without spending extra time personalizing Web pages.

Usability Is First

     Nonetheless, personalizable Web pages are not just a useless feature. They can give visitors a better user experience, but only if usability of your Web site is good. So, before adding a personalizable feature, improve usability. Also, make sure adding a personalizable feature won't cause any usability problems. For example, personalized pages must be displayed as fast as Google's search results appear. If this isn't possible because of a server's poor performance, you should upgrade the server or forget about personalization. Moreover, don't ever make your Web site unable to browse until visitors complete the personalizing process.

Beat the Competition

     The Jupiter Research results also indicate that Web surfers often notice Web sites with poor usability. That's why many people demand Web sites with better usability. This demand means many of your competitors might have usability problems. If you improve your site's usability, you will have a big advantage over most of your competition.

© April, 2004