How many times you’re looking for information about in website, and once in the web site page, you get out again in a few seconds without having found anything there? A lot times isn’t it? If you are a user, it hasn’t a lot of importance (only the fact of having lost time), but if you are the creator of the website and if the visitors get out, it`s a little bit more problematic.
The Ease of Use, globally, measures the quality of the experience of a user in front of a product or a system. It makes reference to the ease and the speed with which a user interacts with an interface and reaches his goal. When a user enters for the first time on one a web site, it delays between 3 and 5 seconds “deciding” if he stays there or if it emerges. During this first one “to scan”, the interface has to get the attention of the user and “convince” him to stay on the website. And it’s very difficult, but if you make a success the user to stay on your website (what’s even more difficult) to lose him afterward would be really a pity.
There are thus several factors which determine the Ease of Use. However 4 are most BASIC for any interface:
- Easy and simple to take in hand (intuitive)
- Which allows a fast restoring after an error
- Easy to remember it
To work, to emphasize and watch the Ease of Use is an obligation (or you will not survive) but a very beneficial obligation. By having a fast, simple and effective web page, you will make a success the user to reach his goals, in the fact that he feels satisfied while gaining his trust (almost the Holy Grail). Furthermore, the development cost, the cost of the support and the errors will be reduced and will increase the return on investment.
Now that we know the most importing some Ease of Use (not to confuse with the Experience of the User which is one thermal baths more general), it’s time to know the rank of Usability which possesses your web page.
There are several tools which allow to examine websites by offering you information at the time of load, problems on the blocks of text, errors on the links, etc. But there are other (better) methods to estimate your web site: real Tests with the users, the lists of rules of bases or directive to follow.
One of the lists, can be the most known, is the one elaborated by Jackob Nielsen, one of the biggest specialists about the world in Ease of Use. Through the study of more than 250 cases, he created a list of “10 principles heuristics of the Ease of Use “:
1. Visibility of the state of the system: It’s necessary to hold the user informed about what takes place, and it’s important to use an adequate feedback at reasonable time (Process of download bar, messages which confirm that something was sent).
2. Concordance between the system and the real world: The interface has to “speak” the same language as the user. It’s not only about the text, but also the images, the order of the information and the shape under which it appears (it can be original but does not have to muddle up the user).
3. Control and freedom of the user: The user must be free to navigate wherever he likes, and we are not sensible to indicate him a way. If the user makes a mistake, he must be able to have an “exit” either a return there, so that he can find his way back.
4. Coherences and standards: If you use a plan or a plan defines by the homepage, do not change it on the other pages, because it is important to keep a certain coherence and to be stable in the decisions which are taken.
5. Preventions of errors: Many committed errors are predictable. That is why best is to look the design and to avoid the problems rather to have an error message with a beautiful design. To detect the possibilities of errors and to indicate them to the user is a good point in your favor (to ask for a confirmation would be a good example).
6. Plan before receiving calls: We do not have to leave the principle that the user remembers all that he made, and that is why he has to have all the information in carried by hand by guiding him (for example during a process of purchase).
7. Flexibility and efficiency of use: A good interface has to have the flexibility to adapt itself to every user. A user who already knows your web page does not need that a user who comes there for the first time. For the experts, it is possible to use “accelerators” or “shortcuts” so that they reach their goal (link leading to an article which they were already able to read to the folding screen, etc).
8. Esthetic and minimalist Design: To introduce the information of excess without any utility brings no profit. The relevant information will see competing with the one that he is not.
9. Help the users to recognize, to diagnose and to return on the errors: Some problems are predictable, some not. When it arrives, error messages must be easy to read, without any technical language, and always have to include one a solution or an exit.
10. Help and documentation: Even if the web page is simple and easy of use, it would not be excess to add a help section of and documentations which must be easy to find and especially, directed to the concrete tasks to realize for users (and no useless information)
Now you can measure the Ease of Use of your website. Get to work!