Jakob Nielsen once said that in the first 10 years of the Web, doubling conversion rates was easy—you just had to be sure you weren’t making silly mistakes with your web design.
Those easy days are over. Now a usable site is the price of admission. Visitors decide whether to leave or remain within seconds of first arriving. Modern sites must surprise and delight visitors by not only giving them what they need, but also by exceeding their expectations. Of course, if your product or service sucks, even the best website in the world won’t save you. However, there are plenty of companies with excellent offerings that fail because users can’t interact with their websites. We have to change how we think about usability—not just fixing it, but using it as the basis for innovation and differentiation.
Websites are invitations to interact. A site’s designer intended for it to be used in a certain way, and its usability is a measure of how easily its target audience can interact with it. Counterintuitive sites discourage visitors, while well-designed ones steer visitors toward the desired goals.
User interaction designers base their interfaces on many factors. They strive to use well-understood controls, familiar conventions, consistent structure, and unambiguous terminology. All of these factors only lead to a hypothesis—an educated guess about how visitors will interact—that then needs to be tested and verified. ...