Is your website actually usable, or are you just used to it?

Do you have website blindness?

Is your website actually usable, or are you just used to it? If you’re working with your website frequently or even daily, you might feel like your website is truly, actually user-friendly. But the problem is, you’re too close to it. You might have website blindness.

It’s easy for you to navigate a website when you’re intimately familiar with its layout. But what about visitors, or brand-new users? What about people who are, well, not so great with technology? 

How do other people, real people, feel about your website? Have you ever asked them?

To find the answers, you have to ask some questions.

What do people come to your website to do? Are there multiple reasons people visit your website? Is it easy to find what they are looking for? Do they get frustrated at any step in the process?

These are all incredibly important questions, and not an exhaustive list. You might feel like you already know some of the answers. But how do you know if you’re right?

It might seem a little elementary, but the best way to find the answers is to actually ask these questions. And get responses from real people.

Collecting feedback from actual users is crucial. It might not feel necessary, but remember, you might have website blindness. Besides, what do you have to lose? If you were right all along, you now have the data to back up your intuitions. And if you weren’t, you now know how to get back on track.

Making time to find those answers.

The number one reason people avoid asking these questions is a lack of time and resources. Or rather, a perceived lack of those things. They don’t think they can justify spending their time on collecting this type of feedback, so they make an educated guess and keep moving forward. After all, who has time to find a bunch of people and conduct one-on-one interviews and analyze all the responses and…

So don’t do all of that.

Figuring out whether your website is easy to use is not an all-or-nothing process. Your website needs to continue to grow and improve, so it’s okay to do a little at a time. If you’ve never done anything like this before, there’s good news! Taking your first step toward a good website experience will be a 100% improvement.

Here are some less-daunting methods of getting some answers for those questions:

  • Leverage your membership: If your company has a body of frequent users, like members of a credit union or newsletter subscribers, you have a fairly ideal group of people to ask. Your members and subscribers are already the end-users of your website, so ask them what they think! A quick survey or questionnaire in the right place on your website can get you a lot of great feedback. Just don’t focus too much on the loudest complainers.
  • Leverage your workforce: Your customer-facing staff are quite literally your boots on the ground. They know a lot more than they get credit for. For example, at a credit union, the tellers and loan officers are likely already helping members navigate through your website every day. Why not ask them which questions get asked the most?
  • Leverage your website itself: Your website can tell you a lot, if you know how to listen. Make sure you’re tracking and reviewing internal search data, and use that to make improvements.
  • Find a limited pool of new users: To be honest, website usability is not rocket surgery. You don’t have to treat it like high-stakes scientific research. If all you can find is a few more-or-less random people to try out your website, that’s way better than ignoring the problem. Bonus points if those people become new members!

Your website is your digital storefront.

How would you feel if you visited a new bookstore, and all of the books inside were arranged by color? Sure it would be pretty, but could you find, well, anything? And when you asked the store owner about it, what if they said, “Well, it makes sense to me. What’s wrong with you?”

That’s what your website blindness feels like for the user. Your website is a first impression you can’t take back. And websites have become increasingly important as more and more people have started looking up businesses and reviews online. So, why not ask them what they think? You might just decide it’s time for an upgrade.

Sam Dicken

Email this article to a friend or coworker.