Usable websites improve the investor experience and increase purchase intent while websites that frustrate and confuse only result in high bounce rates and lost opportunities to attract shareholders and improve market liquidity.
One of the most important aspects of building and maintaining an investor facing website is testing for usability. Investors today are accustomed to being able to figure out how to use a website quickly and most of them will not take the time to figure out a site that is not usable or investor friendly.
What is Usability?
Usability is simply how easy an object is to use. In the case of investor websites, usability has been defined as the ease at which an average person can use the website to achieve specific goals.
Usability is comprised of learnability, memorability, efficiency, satisfaction and errors.
- Learnability is how easy it is for a new visitor to accomplish tasks the first time they visit your website.
- Memorability is how easy it is for someone to come back to using your website after they haven’t used it for a period of time.
- Efficiency is how quickly users can complete tasks on your site after they are familiar with its use.
- Satisfaction is whether users enjoy the design of your site
- Errors refers to the number of errors users make when they use your site, the severity of the errors and how easy they are to recover from.
What is Usability Testing?
Usability Testing is a technique used to evaluate a product (in this case a website) by testing is on users. Usability tests are carefully constructed scenarios where a person performs a list of tasks that someone who is using the website is likely to perform.
Watching someone perform common tasks on your website is a great way to test whether the site is usable because you will immediately be able to see whether they are able to perform the tasks and any difficulties they have while doing so.
Why is Website Usability Important?
The main reason that usability is so important is because investors have almost unlimited choices and if for any reason your site is frustrating or confusing they will simply go to the next one instead of trying to figure yours out.
Like it or not investors will formulate judgements about your company by the way they perceive your web site and since Nasdaq reports that 84% of institutional investors will visit your company’s website prior to making an investment decision, that makes website usability pretty significant.
There are 3 main categories of usability testing:
- Explorative: Used early in product development to assess the effectiveness and usability of a preliminary design or prototype, as well as investors’ thought processes and conceptual understanding.
- Assessment: Used midway in product development or as an overall usability test for site evaluation. Evaluates real-time trials of the website to determine the satisfaction, effectiveness, and overall usability.
- Comparative: Compares two or more design or content possibilities and distinguishes the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Types of Usability Testing Methods
The following is a brief description of the primary usability testing methods.
- Remote Usability Testing: Remote usability testing allows you to conduct user research with investors in their natural environment by employing screen-sharing software or using an online remote usability vendor like Investor Testing. In general, tests should be about 15–30 minutes long and are made up of 3-5 tasks. Remote usability testing has been shown to produce very reliable results because tests are carried out in the testers normal environment instead of a controlled lab.
- Expert Review: An expert in the field is asked to evaluate the usability of the website. Sometimes the expert is brought to a testing facility to test the site, while other times the tests are conducted remotely and automated results are sent back for review. Automated expert tests are typically not as detailed as other types of usability tests, but their advantage is that they can be completed quickly. (Investor Testing offers this service)
- Questionnaires and Interviews: Due to their one-on-one nature, interviews enable the observer to ask direct questions to the users (apart from double checking what they are really doing). Similarly, the observer can also ask questions by means of questionnaires. The advantage of questionnaires is that they allow more structured data collection. However, they are rigid in nature as opposed to interviews.
- Do-it-Yourself Walkthrough: Just as the name implies, in this technique, the observer sets up a usability test situation by creating realistic scenarios. He or she then walks through the work themselves just like a user would. A variation of this technique is the group walkthrough where the observer has multiple attendees performing the walkthrough.
- Hallway Testing: Using random people to test the website rather than people who are trained and experienced in testing websites. This method is particularly effective for testing a new website for the first time during development.
- Controlled Experiments: An approach that is similar to scientific experiments typically involving a comparison of two products, with careful statistical balancing in a laboratory. This may be the hardest method to do “in the real world” but due to its scientific nature, it yields very accurate results that can eventually be published
What Do You Do With Your Test Results?
After you have received the results of your website usability tests, the first thing you should do is compile a list of common sticking points.
As you watch your videos and read the written responses think about what you can change so that investors are able to complete these tasks easier.
Make any changes you can to improve the usability of your site as soon as possible. Investor website usability testing is an ongoing process. Just because you made a few improvements shouldn’t mean you are done.
There are always more investors to attract and enchant and every one of them matters.
Small lifts in conversion add up to big lifts in liquidity.
Deploy, test, tweak, improve, repeat.
If you have any questions about how investor testing your website for usability issues, please feel free to send me an email or give me a call.