In last week’s blog, we looked at visibility, the second pillar that supports an online business’s interaction with its customers. This week, we will look at the third and final pillar: usability. You’ve got a genius product, and everyone knows it and wants it. They’re begging you to take their money. At this point, you only have one thing left to do… Make sure they can. Even if people desperately want what you are selling, if they can’t get it, they will not wait around for you.

The most basic thing, of course, is to make sure your virtual infrastructure is working properly. Many digital products and platforms have been sunk by a poor launch. Major, unresolved bugs left over from development, insufficient power to sustain traffic, and many other problems in the early days of a business can put it on a path of irreversible decline, no matter how good or valuable it may have been.

To prevent this, there are two main items to lock down: first, try to make your launch version as polished as possible. While that might seem like plain common sense, it’s incredible how many large companies do not follow it. A buggy, partially unfinished project is a huge turn-off in the usability department. Some people may deal with it and ignore the flaws, but many will abandon ship, and a customer once lost is usually nearly impossible to get back. Once bitten, twice shy. Second, make sure you are accurately anticipating the amount of use your webstructure will get. One example of this is the Obamacare rollout a few years ago. The amount of Day One traffic the servers received was far greater than the amount expected, and crashes and failed logins plagued the system. If you can prepare for a rush of traffic and successfully serve your customers, you will be in very good position.

A customer also must be able to use your website or other platforms easily, conveniently, and repeatedly. I wrote a previous post on this point in particular, but to reiterate, if a customer wants to pay you, but finds your website unintuitive, crowded, complicated, or insecure, they will likely go elsewhere. Even a great product will be passed up if it is too hard to actually buy, or the purchase seems like it will carry risks. Service websites or apps with frustrating layouts will be discarded. No matter how useful something is, convenience is also a major factor. People are busy and don’t have time to wrestle with redundant software, so try to make their purchasing, surfing, browsing, viewing, or playing experience as streamlined as possible. If a feature is unnecessarily cluttering your customers’ experience, ax it.

Thanks for sticking with me these three weeks. Come back again for more blogs from the Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation at Grove City College!