Website Usability and Burnt Toast

ToastNow that the new Sealevel website has been live for over a month, I can reflect on one of my primary objectives – making sure the site offers exceptional customer usability. When we set out to redesign the site, I personally wanted to make sure we avoided the “me” mentality. In other words, I wanted to make sure the site was designed around how you, our customers, expected the site to work and not how we expected the site to operate, especially users coming to the site for the first time. We see this stuff every day.

We used customer feedback gathered over the last few years and website metrics to guide us. We made educated guesses on how to best organize the site and make it flow for you, the user. You should be able to quickly figure out what is going on with each webpage and the navigation options. We had to make sure that every page was navigable in the way that the user expected.

After the site was designed, but before it went live, the next step was to test our theories. We had dozens of test subjects perform very specific tasks. We observed them using the site and even had a few “aha moments” like noticing that more technical users went straight to the footer navigation. We used this information to fix navigation issues and improve areas of the site where subjects got stuck. We performed several test/fix cycles until we were sure it was ready for launch. Like everything else at Sealevel, we wanted it to be perfect.

It took a tremendous amount of effort, but the final result was worth it. We love the new website and hope you do too. If you have any comments, suggestions, or if you keep getting served toast, let us know in The Sandbox, our user forum, or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you!

One Comment

  1. Jay
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Site looks great – it’s nice to see the people behind a company through your community section – some sites are way too faceless. Keep up the good work.

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