Web Usability: What Is It, and Why Does It Matter?

Web Usability: What Is It, and Why Does It Matter? 2 min read

What Is Usability?

Usability, in the general sense, can be defined as the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object.

When applied to the digital realm, usability is the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which users can achieve tasks in a particular environment of a product. High usability means a system is: easy to learn and remember; efficient, visually pleasing and fun to use; and quick to recover from errors.

Stemming from this more specific definition are five main components that website usability is comprised of:

  1. Learnability – How easy is it for a user to figure out how to use the site?
  2. Efficiency – After they figure it out how to use the site, how quickly can the user complete their task?
  3. Memorability – After stepping away from the design for a while, how easily can the user recall how to use the site?
  4. Errors – Do the users make errors when navigating the design? How many? How easily can they correct them or recover from them?
  5. Satisfaction – Is using the design a gratifying and pleasant experience?


Why Is Usability Important ?

Have you ever visited a website and found yourself furiously clicking the back button or closing out the tab in frustration? Chances are that the website you visited had poor usability.

People will leave if they can’t figure out how to use a website. It’s frustrating. In fact, studies show that leaving is the first thing a user will do if they encounter a difficulty. This is why usability is crucial to survival on the web.

Having a website with good usability should be a priority for any company that exists in the digital sphere. The benefits greatly outweigh the cost of investing in a product with high usability.

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, who are experts in the field of user experience, spending around 10% of a design project’s budget on usability will, “…on average, more than double a website’s desired quality metrics.” These UX experts do an excellent job of putting the importance of usability into perspective in the following statement:

For internal design projects, think of doubling usability as cutting training budgets in half and doubling the number of transactions employees perform per hour. For external designs, think of doubling sales, doubling the number of registered users or customer leads, or doubling whatever other desired goal motivated your design project.


Ensure that your website is designed with high usability in mind, and the dreaded ‘back-button escape route’ many frustrated users take will cease to be a concern.

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