February 10, 2011, 1:30 PM

Test, correct and test again to make a web site easy to use, says one IRWD speaker.

Michael Summers will discuss the usability mistakes that drive customers away.

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Test, correct and test again are the basic fundamentals retailers need to master if they want to ensure their e-commerce sites meet top usability expectations, says Michael Summers, vice president of usability for GSI Commerce, a provider of e-commerce technology and marketing services.

Summers, who will be speaking next week at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference 2011 at a session entitled “Top usability mistakes that drive customers away—and how to avoid them,” says the key to better usability begins with assembling a test group of motivated shoppers and then giving them a real challenge to perform, such as finding the right product on a redesigned home or product page. The next step is to find weaknesses in any new feature or function, fix them, and then continue the testing until shoppers are satisfied.

“You need to watch carefully and measure how real people react to the new design, feature or function,” says Summers.

By following a core set of best practices and then repeating and revising the usability test until the design truly works, retailers also can see a big jump in sales and conversion rates, says Summers.

In his session Summers will focus on best practices and what to look for in designing web sites to achieve “optimum usability.”

“Retailers should design for what shoppers want and not what they just think shoppers want.”

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