Web usability

Definition of web usability.

Web usability is defined by Jakob Nielsen in this broken down list that describes and defines web usability in a most clear and concise way.

Learnability:               How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they  encounter the design?

Efficiency:                   Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?

Memorability:             When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they re-establish proficiency?

Errors:                        How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?

Satisfaction:                How pleasant is it to use the design? (JAKOB NIELSEN, 2012)

Factors of a Usable website.

Homepage.      From reading through Neilsens book Prioritizing Web Usability home pages are an essential part of a successful and useable website. The home page represents the companies brand so it must be clear and simple. Consumers that visit a home page have already chosen to visit the site so no extra encouragement is needed. Shouting loud about the site usually turns people off. For  e.g. splash screens moving text and animated images. Web designers in the past assumed blinking lights and moving images would encourage a consumer to take action. The action that most took was to leave these site for scaled down versions.

Design.            Web designers and CEOs have had trouble rejecting their own preferences and negating the users preferences. Users need to be at the centre of a web design once there needs are addressed the site will be successful.

Structure.        Standardisation is key to a successful web site 80% or more websites use the same design. This allows users to navigate easily and its what’s common. Standardisation is beneficial because once a user learns how to use a standard web site they can use all other websites that are standard.

Navigation.     This is a design element that allows the user to freely search a site. Clear structure allows users to access information they need when they need it and how they need it. (Nielsen, J., & Loranger, H. 2006)

Key players in online retail.

Popularity rank.

5)         DELL INC.

With Online sales of $4,609,728,000 in 2011. Dell was one of the first to introduce ecommerce in to their business strategy in 1994. This eventually resulted in sales of more than one million PCs  a year.


4)         WALMART.COM

Wal-Mart recorded sales of  $4,900,000, in 2011. Wal-Mart were late in coming on line in 2000 as their main focus was on their brick and mortar stores so it was slow to develop. Although the present CEO of Wal-Mart mike duke means e-business. His influence and direction has transformed Wal-Mart from an unambitious online player to one of the biggest challengers to amazon. The online battle between these two giants will be examined later in this report.


3)         APPLE INC

In 1997 Apple reinstated Steve jobs along with NeXT computers to assist in there online ambition’s. After a year in development their site was released. Steve Jobs declared that it achieved 12million in sales in its first month. There 2011 online sale accounted for $6,660,000,000 which was an increase of 27.40%. Apple effectively created an online eco system with apps and features to enhance the experience of apple users.


2)         STAPLES INC

Staples were co-founded by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Staples are nearing the top of this popularity rank. With online sales of $10,600,000,000 which was an increase of  27.40% in 2011. Not surprising that they intend to slash 15% of its 2000 stores in 26 countries and concentrate on their online business. This site was launched in 1986 and has experienced growth ever since. Staples may not be the coolest brand but it is has the longest online presence on this list and pioneered this field. Even now they are reported to be investing in its online operations with the introduction of E-Commerce Innovation centre.

staples screenshot Montreal TCommerce article

1)                  AMAZON.COM INC

With staggering sales of $48,080,000,000 in 2011. Amazon will be hard to catch up with. Amazon emerged from the ruins of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and went on to make 5 million in profits in 2001. This was their first ever profitable quarter. It was the Kindle that accelerated there popularity and changed the way people read books. There is a lot more that could be said about Amazon but the figure speak for themselves. (Netonomy.NET, 2013)

Amazon vs. Wal-Mart.

Amazon was once just a bookseller but now is the main competitor to the world’s largest retailer. Presently Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer with revenues of $469 billion in 2012 surpassing Amazon’s $61 billion. These two retailers are competitively competing for the US online market.  Consumers in this markets main concerned is receiving fresh produce. Amazon are functionally better equipped to service this new consumer trend than Wal-Mart. Amazon are leaving Wal-Mart behind with its fresh same day delivery currently operational in Seattle and soon to move to California. While Wal-Mart are struggling to create similar experience’s for their online consumers.(Clare O’Connor, 2013)

Web design failures.

It is essential that examples of poorly designed sites are examined in order to fully appreciate the importants of good web design. These are three sites that has been pulled from a list of eight display the elements of design that must be kept simple and useable.

1)      Structure and Alignment.

The site below is an example of a site that dismissed simple structure and design. 960 or 1140 pixel grids can help to eliminate hard to follow layouts that are unusable and difficult to navigate.

2)      Navigation.

This site is a good example of design taking preference over function. It is advised to keep all essential links in one place. Then there can be dropdown boxes with other types of relevant information.

3)      Countless Links.

Just as too much text and to many links will confuse the user. As it has been stated before organised locations for links is essential to enhance the user’s experience.

Online Europe.

Now that we have established the difference between good and bad web site throughout the world. It’s appropriate now to investigate the state of the European on line market. Mintel researchers in 2012 predicted European online sales would grow to €188bn in 2013 from €166bn in 2012. Amazon plans to double their European wide market share there are poised to actively service this growth.

Online UK.


U.K. shoppers are now increasingly becoming disillusioned with the time wasted spent in grocery stores. For this reason UK online grocery sales are set to increase by 126% in five years with revenues of £14.6billion. This predicted increase in online sales has influenced Tesco’s to cancel its space race and have cancelled plans to open one hundred new stores. This may give evidence that Tesco’s are now going to concentrate their efforts towards developing powerful online shopping presence.

( Sean Poulter. 2013)

Mintel also outlines that Tesco’s current online market share is at 2.3%  Asda and Sainsbury’s are at 1.1pc and 0.9pc respectively. In mainland Europe grocery shopping is mainly online. Britain and France mainly have the strongest demand for online shopping then collecting it. With the Germans preferring to have there’s delivered. (Reuters, 2013)

The state of an online Nation.

Sheila Bukley Head of eTail Excellence Ireland states that Irish online sales will increase by 20% which she admits is a modest prediction. The Irish online retail sector has grown surprisingly quicker than its Europeans counter parts. This is helped with the growth of multiple devices such as tablets and smart phones. (Reuters,  2013) These emerging technologies are creating digital shoppers and is significant. Jakob Nielsen recommends its worth investing in mobile optimised sites. This could result in 2.5 times higher conversions rates. Conversion rates are a direct correlation between mobile users viewing sites and actual sales. (Jakob Nielsen, Raluca Budiu 2013)

Retail Ireland ascertains that the Irish online retail sector is worth €4.1bn which is predicted to grow to €21bn by 2017. Although it’s a recurring theme that the Irish online grocery sector is a growth sector there are costs to this. Delivery costs amounts to 38% set up costs are 28%. With poor broad band speeds and a lack of post codes for easy deliveries these are significant barriers to overcome for retailers. (Retail Ireland, 2013)

Emerging online competitor.


Although it may be reasonable to suggest that Tesco and SUPERVALU are currently the main players within this market. There is an emerging challenger that may attempt to compete within this market.

Buyers’ club is a small but emerging competitor within the Irish grocery retail sector. It is a company that means E-business. The company founder intends to cater for the digital shopper. Launched earlier this year with a staff of only 15 people Buyers will buy branded labels in bulk and offer the savings to consumers. These are consumers that don’t want the hassle of shopping. They also are partnered with various unique Irish food producers. These small food producers will be promoted to the consumer that visit the buyers’ club site. And with the savings made on premium brands consumers make may spend the savings on these quality Irish products. These suppliers are struggling to compete with manufactured brands. Buyers’ club if successful will be a good platform to advertise these products.  (Philip Connolly, 2012)


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