Usability and Design in Website Development

“Usability comes first” is a true rule of website development, but design plays a critical role in creating great user experience (Felton, 2013). According to Nielson (2006), “Website designers make a huge mistake when they focus around usability alone, just because it is thought to be more important for users. Usability and design should go together as CSS and PHP, as Header and Footer, as content and layout.” This week’s blog post will discuss the design and usability of Burger King’s website along with the websites of McDonalds and Wendy’s.

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As mentioned above, a site’s usability mainly depends on its design. A fast website with a friendly entry form, yet colored in an unsuitable color palette and with old-fashioned fonts would never succeed among the users. However, website usability is about user-centered design. Burger King’s website is primarily designed to engage the viewers and to promote exciting offers. The web designer chose a warm color palette in the design of this brand’s website. The images used on the website are very colorful and appealing. Also, the site lists menu items in traditional navigation style.

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The five tasks, assigned to the three users, to test the usability of this website and other two sites were:

  1. Browse the site from a mobile device and a tablet.
  2. Order some food online
  3. List some of their current promotional offers
  4. Sign up for the newsletter
  5. Find out store locations and hours of operations

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The tasks above were chosen as the different criteria to be used to compare the companies’ websites. The results after interpreting the data collected from the users are discussed below:

Mobile Friendliness:

All of the users were able to browse the websites from their mobile devices. However, two of them mentioned that they struggled with the site of Burger King. According to them, the navigation style of its mobile web is not user-friendly. Since the homepage of BK is very long, it takes substantial time to load the page. The users did not like the wait time. Compared to BK, McDonalds and Wendy’s have clearer and more concise homepage in their mobile webs.

Navigation style and links:

Two of the users said they could easily know where they were on the McDonalds website. Another user said the site of Burger King provided useful clues and links for the users to get the desired information. However, all of them noted that it was difficult to move around at the website of Burger King. The animation used on the surface to display the images are very distracting. According to them, it is much easier to move around at McDonald’s website by using the links or back button of the browser. They also think, the links at McDonald’s website are well maintained and updated. Placement of links or menu is standard throughout the website and easily recognizable.

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User Interface Design:

All of the users think that the BK’s website interface design is attractive. All of them were comfortable with the colors used on this website. However, as mentioned earlier, they think that the site contains some features that at times irritated them such as scrolling and looping animations. According to the users, McDonalds’ website has a consistent feel and look. The design of the site makes sense, and it is easy to learn how to use it. Nevertheless, two of the users mentioned that the website of Burger King is much more user-friendly than the site of Wendy’s.

Performance and effectiveness of the Website:

As mentioned above, the users needed to wait too long to open the homepage of Burger King. However, two of the users agreed that the homepage of BK loads faster than the homepage of McDonald’s. It is because of the flash video used by McDonalds on their homepage. Considering the wait time, Wendy’s website is the most effective among three of these sites. However, the users noted that all these websites responded to their actions as expected.

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According to Nielson (2006), “A usable website is user-friendly, easy to read, it is flying (in the literal and metaphoric senses), and it makes users come back.” When users arrive at a website, they should understand how the navigation works, how to act via CTA, where to find any particular section of the site or information they are interested in, and all this is called website usability. Burger King should improve their navigation style to make the site more user-friendly. Also, to improve the overall user-experience BK should refine the animations of their web page. It is recommended to the company to make the homepage crisper, which will eventually make the website more swimmable by the users.

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Getting the Most Out of Online Advertising

Advertising on the Site:

Sevenly does not use any third party advertisements on its website. Previously, the team of Sevenly used some ads in their Facebook page. Now that the business is in the growth stage, the company does not allow any kind of paid third party advertisements on any of its social media pages or website. It mostly uses the ads of its own products on the pages of the website.

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However, Sevenly promotes the charity organizations it selects each week to donate on its website. In my opinion, this is one sort of advertisement as well. For instance, this week Sevenly is donating the money it is raising for the charity purpose to an organization called “Autism speaks”. The viewer can see a banner on Sevenly’s website that is promoting the organization Autism Speaks. Although, Sevenly does not receive any payment for promoting such organizations, the ads on the website serves the purpose of advertising for them significantly.

Products:

Sevenly does not have various product lines yet. It mostly offers apparel and accessories for male and female. The main objective of Sevenly is to sell special designed products through its website. The products it sells include t-shirts and some other accessories, i.e. hoodie, T-shirt, wall print, backpack, bottle, etc. In an article titled ‘Sevenly: Wearable and Charitable’ Organic Connections Magazine mentioned, “The T-shirts and many of the different accessories Sevenly sells bear original hand-drawn designs by Sevenly artists, using inspirational and empowering messages.”

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Nonetheless, the artists design the T-shirts based on the particular week’s charity. The products Sevenly offers are made in the USA. The materials are also certified by WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production).

Communications I receive from the Website:

I am probably one of those few people who click the “subscribe” button on the websites willingly. It has been almost one year that I subscribed to the email newsletters of Sevenly. Thus, the only communication that I receive from the Sevenly website is its e-newsletters.

Normally, I get Sevenly’s email newsletters twice a week. The newsletters mostly contain the information about its weekly campaign along with the products it is offering for that particular week. The team of Sevenly put a lot of effort while designing the newsletters. The email newsletters they send are very brief and image-heavy.

Affiliate Program:

Sevenly introduced its affiliate program in 2012. The team of Sevenly said that to drive traffic and generate initial revenue they have run various affiliate marketing program. The first action they used is CPA (Cost per action model). They used some external websites, i.e. Affiliate technology, Popshops, Abestweb, etc., to promote their brand.

Initially, the commission they gave to these affiliates for their assigned job is 15-20% of each sale. Nonetheless, they still uses CPA model to boost their revenue. The click-through affiliate program is being used by Sevenly as well. It pays 15% commission to the external website that has the link that leads to the website of Sevenly. The affiliate receives the amount if a user clicks on the link and enters to Sevenly’s website.

However, Sevenly uses individual affiliates as well. If a blogger is interested to promote Sevenly, he or she can apply for the individual affiliate program. In this program the selected affiliate gets the exclusive T-shirt and accessories for free. In return all they need to do is wear the T-shirts, tweet and write about Sevenly in their blog. There are many bloggers who work as affiliates of Sevenly. They are known as ‘Sevenly educators’ as well.

0000017-women-grab-bagSevenly and an Article about Affiliate Marketing:

To discuss the impact of affiliate marketing on Sevenly, I have chosen an article from the Forbes Magazine titled “4 Myths about Affiliate Marketing You Need to Know” by Steve Olenski. In this article the author mostly talked about four very important traditional myths about affiliate marketing. He revealed that affiliate marketing can open a new revenue avenue for a company without much of the difficulties associated with setting up new marketing programs. Nevertheless, it is very important to understand the true facts related to affiliate marketing to make the correct decisions for the future growth of any business.

The first fact the author talked about is the time requirements for affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing takes a considerable amount of time to show results. It does not bring results immediately after introducing the program. As discussed earlier Sevenly introduced its affiliate program back in 2012. The primary objective of Sevenly’s affiliate program was to drive traffic for its website. To turn that traffic into conversions the team of Sevenly put a lot of effort. First of all, they set up the most efficient partnerships for their business. Then they brought the right partners into their affiliate program. Furthermore, they tend to update the contents of the website regularly.

The second myth the author talked about is the market size and popularity. According to the article most people think that popular niche markets are appropriate for affiliate marketing, which might not be true in many cases. Non-popular niches can be appropriate too, if they are relevant to the business goals of the company. Therefore, the author suggested to follow the goals and mission statement of the company and find affiliates who understand the relevance of working in a new yet potential market. In my opinion, Sevenly explored some niche markets to implement affiliate marketing. It uses individual bloggers and educators to run affiliate programs that are profitable to drive traffic and spreading word of mouth. Nevertheless, the team of Sevenly is determined to explore niche markets to set up new marketing initiatives constantly.

The last two myths the author talked about is the effectiveness and efficiency of affiliate marketing. He mentioned that due to Google’s new algorithms for SEO, link building is becoming outdated that can discourage affiliate activity. However, if this is the case, there are many new ways to use SEO and increase the effectiveness of affiliate marketing. Sevenly should explore new ways to use SEO while building strategy for its affiliate marketing. Nevertheless, success in affiliate marketing comes from getting the product on as many sites as possible. According to a study done by Three Ladders Marketing, the most traffic for affiliates were driven by SEO, 79% and social media, 60%. Although, studies show that affiliate marketing isn’t easy, Sevenly should still focus on the niche markets, focus on a few key affiliates, and create a system that generates performance for both the company itself and the affiliate that can drive profit and conversions for its business.