Is Your Website Usability Hurting your Ultimate Growth?

Ok, it’s true confession time. A few summers ago, I received a speeding ticket… my first one since the late nineties. Since it had been so long since I got one, I went to court and the judge assigned driving school. We won’t talk about how excited I was to sit all day in driving school in December at 8 months pregnant. That’s another post for another day. Now, what does this have to do with website usability? Keep reading, and I’ll make it clear.

Trying to Find Answers Online

I just wanted to have the whole business over and done, so I talked to some friends who had a bit more experience in the area. After a couple of friends told me online school proved a huge pain, I decided not to complete the course online. They recommended that I just go, spend the day, and have the whole thing behind me. Like any tech nerd, I took to the web to find a driving school that was both convenient and reasonably priced. I found the website usability (or lack thereof) appaling for most of the sites I visited.

It wasn’t hard at all to find driving schools that the DMV approved. In fact, it was a bit overwhelming, as the list on the DMV’s website was huge. I immediately narrowed it down to those with a website I could visit, eliminating all those who weren’t on the web. Just like that, those driving schools had lost my business. I didn’t have a chance to see their website usability, because there were no sites to consider. The owners of those schools may have thought they were saving money by not having sites, but they actually lost income, since I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who had that same criteria.

The Results

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As I visited those schools that did have websites, I was quickly able to whittle down my choices even further. Most of them were obviously not professionally done and were difficult to navigate. That’s one strike against their website usability. Additionally, the ones that did publish a schedule of class dates, times, and locations had charts that were so difficult to read that it was nearly impossible to determine the best class for me. Those that didn’t have schedules were automatically off the list.

Keeping in mind that I’m a work-at-home mom with small children, I was doing this search after my daughter had gone to bed, making it difficult for me to call a school to register for a class. My specifications included being able to register for the class online, or at least fill out a contact form to check if a class was open or full. I finally found one with an updated, published schedule and a contact form I could fill out. Bonus was that they offered the class in my part of town. I filled out the form, heard back from the owner, and registered for the class.

Improving Website Usability

What can business owners learn from my speeding ticket (other than the obvious speed limit lessons)? Website usability matters. Driving schools lost my business because they either didn’t have sites or because their sites did not meet my needs. I’ve said it before, but your website should be your most valuable employee, representing your business and catering to its visitors. A simple class schedule, contact form, or easily navigated website would have made all the difference in my search.

It’s necessary, even imperative, for business owners to look at their sites and make sure they have what users need. Ask people what they would find useful on your site. Have friends look at your site and give it an honest, comprehensive review. It’s not hard, and you don’t have to pay an expensive analyzing firm to check website usability. I even found a great article on usability testing procedures.

So give your site a good look, have friends take a peek, improve your website usability, and keep swimming along!

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