Re-Visiting the User-Friendliness Discussion

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We’ve probably touched-on the topic a little bit here and there in previous and ongoing posts, but I don’t think we’ve ever discussed user-friendliness directly. It has been the buzz-phrase for quite some time now, with the world’s biggest search engine announcing a couple of years ago that their dynamic page-ranking algorithm would be geared more towards the user experience. That suggests that the most user-friendly sites will be ranked highest, doesn’t it?

Taking a closer look at exactly what constitutes user-friendliness however, one very quickly realises that perhaps a ranking system based on a site’s user-friendliness is nothing more than an ideal on the part of Alphabet’s Google. Hey, they’ve been known to achieve great things in the past and will certainly achieve great things in the future, but for now I think it’s safe to say that rankings-wise it’s still more about “signals” such as back-links, albeit the quality of the back-links definitely counts and definitely counts towards user-friendliness. I mean the sites that rank highest on Google aren’t necessarily the most user-friendly of sites, are they?

That perhaps brings into focus exactly what constitutes user-friendliness. Google outlines its own set of guidelines, but as a user who visits a particular website you probably have something quite different in mind, don’t you?

The purpose of the site you’re visiting

You visit different websites for different reasons, which is why it can be really hard to try and gauge the user-friendliness of all sites by passing them through one blanket grading template. For instance, how would anyone score the user-friendliness of an e-commerce site compared to something like a blog? There are some metrics which can perhaps be used to score each of those sites based on how they fare in each of their own categories, but ultimately it’s about the purpose of the site you’re visiting.

Does it serve its purpose? If I want to buy something on the site, how is that process as an experience?

Usability

Most sites are put up for the purpose of making money in some or other way, which sometimes entails trying to get visitors to complete some actions that generate some advertising or sales value. It can be very annoying to have to click “no” a few times to those offers to join some mailing list and these are the things which should probably be considered when it comes to gauging the user-friendliness of the site with regards to its usability.

Does it work?

Getting the information you want

Ultimately, any website or web presence is about the exchange of information, so when you visit a platform through which you can lodge your Canada visa application for example, it’s about getting all the information you require to complete the process of completing that application and other information such as what the requirements for eligibility are.

Generally sites or platforms through which official tasks are completed, like making travel arrangements or government portals, are the ones which serve as a benchmark for user-friendliness.

In most other cases it’s all about the search engine rankings and profits.