Nearly 95% of frequent Internet users say that a website’s ease of use is important when deciding whether to continue using the site, according to a new survey on user experience (UX). The findings come from a collaborative survey conducted by B2B research firm Clutch and UX design agency Brave UX. The survey targeted those who use the Internet four or more hours per day.
In comparison, the visual appeal of a Website doesn’t have nearly as much impact on a user’s loyalty, the survey found. A modest 66% of survey respondents said that a Website’s appearance or ‘beauty’ is important when deciding whether to use it again.
UX experts expressed surprise at the high-ranking finish for ease of use. “My hypothesis would be that reality is actually the reverse of what people are verbalizing here,” said Denis Lacasse, Executive Vice president at Momentum Design Lab, a UX design agency. “If something is not attractive visually, your propensity to buy will be diminished.”
Yet, there are signals that usability is increasingly outranking attractiveness. Experts point to the user interfaces of Craigslist, Reddit, and email as examples.
Furthermore, Facebook was ranked as the easiest and most pleasant Website to use by 66% of respondents, followed by YouTube at 48%.
Experts cite the intense connectivity possible within Facebook as a contributing factor for its popularity. “I think a lot of people get a dopamine response from the idea that they are getting personal interactions with people they know and… a customized view of information,” said Kelaine Conochan, director of strategy at Brave UX, a full-service user experience agency.
Jordan DeVries, director of user experience at Brave UX, also mentioned several aspects of Facebook’s user interface (UI) that facilitate its usability. These include anchoring interactions around profile photos and simulating actions before they are made, such as when Facebook’s comment box shows the user’s profile picture and asks ‘What do you want to say?’
Overall, 66% of respondents found none of the top-ranked Websites featured in the survey difficult or frustrating to use. Experts mention that this result may be due to a user’s inability to recognize the coping mechanisms they’ve adopted to navigate online. For example, many users will type a website’s name into Google and click the first result, rather than type the actual URL into the browser.
“I think people, just by virtue of exposure, have developed coping strategies or patterns of use that they apply,” said Conochan. “I imagine it’s harder for people to admit that something they use all the time is difficult.”
The survey included 1,001 frequent Internet users, defined as those who use the Internet four or more hours per day. Websites were selected from the Top 15 most visited websites in the US as of August 9, 2016, according to Alexa.com.