Is it enough to have somebody simply visit your website? Or would you prefer they get what they came for, and return frequently? If you chose the latter, then user experience is an element you can’t afford to ignore.
What Does User Experience Mean?
User Experience (UX) refers, quite logically, to the experience a user has when interacting with any product or service. Of particular concern to us is how this applies to your website. Website UX is impacted by interface design, the way that information is presented and arranged, color schemes, and a whole host of other factors. Providing a positive user experience will increase the amount of time users spend on your site, their likelihood of return, and the frequency with which end goals are achieved (theirs and yours). Needless to say, you want to get this right!
Customer-Centric UX Design
When designing a website, it’s tempting to close your eyes and imagine the site you’ve always wanted. An even better idea is to envision the website your clients have always wanted. Ultimately, it will be they who determine whether the website is a handsome piece of art to gaze upon and simply move along, or a place to learn, interact, and do business with.
The first step is understanding the customer. What are they hoping to accomplish by visiting the website? How are they going about achieving this once they’ve arrived?
One part of this is intuitive. You likely have an idea of who your customer is and what you offer them. This will help determine what information should be included and how it should be arranged. If different users will be visiting your site for different reasons, it’s best not to drown them in information they find irrelevant. A good design makes it simple for them to reach the part of the website that addresses their needs.
Good data can supplement your intuition. Analytics, heat mapping, and user testing can provide information about how users are navigating (or mis-navigating) your site. If users are taking an unnecessarily long path to reach their destination, this should be considered a red flag, and inspire some configuration reconsideration.
Intuitive and Simplistic UX
Have you ever become frustrated when using a website? Was the information or experience promised on the search engine results page not immediately delivered upon? Was the page slow to load or confusing to navigate? Internet browsers come equipped with a handy ‘go back’ arrow, which people are not afraid to use. You’ve gone through the hard work of attracting someone to your website, do not blow the opportunity to impress and engage them by offering a poor user experience!
Ultimately, choosing a website from a search engine results page is a leap of faith. Every aspect of your site should confirm the user’s decision to visit! The ‘Hero Section’ (sometimes referred to as ‘Above The Fold’, the first part of your site the user sees) should mirror the information presented in the meta description visible in the SERP.
As mentioned in 6 Ways to Ace Your Website Copy, studies have shown that you have 10 to 20 seconds to convince the visitor they have come to the right place to educate, entertain, or solve their problem. It all starts with the Hero Section.
The rest of the information should be uncluttered and easy to use. Navigational buttons and call to actions should be impactful, obvious, and intuitive. The aesthetics of the website should be consistent with your branding and should reflect your tone, culture, and values. They should be immersed in your messaging, barely cognizant of the fact that they’re interacting with a piece of technology at all. This is best achieved by constantly assessing your site from the point of view of the visitor, and by paying close attention to detail. This is best achieved by constantly assessing your site from the point of view of the visitor, and by paying close attention to detail.
Of course a website must be visually attractive, but don’t confuse this with a need to go over the top. Most websites don’t benefit from resembling an IMAX experience or a futuristic Disney ride. Attention spans are short, and most websites are not read, but scanned. Images and videos should be selected to enhance the content they are consuming, not to make it ‘pretty’. Unnecessarily flashy elements not only slow load times, but often serve to confuse the visitor, who is probably seeking to solve a problem without undue delay. Sleek symbols and color coding are helpful to help navigate the visitor to the information that they are seeking.
Web forms are another area where less is often more. While data collection is important, each required field serves as an opportunity for the user to grow frustrated and abandon their quest. This is particularly true for ecommerce websites where cumbersome or unintuitive check-out processes often increase the frequency of the dreaded ‘abandoned cart’.
It really all boils down to intuitive navigation. For the user, finding what they’re looking for should be like locating a golf ball in the fairway, not one that’s buried in the rough. In other terms, make it easy for the user to find what they are seeking.
Your website has a job to do. Is it to convert a visitor into a customer? Sell a product or service? Educate them with helpful information? Persuade them to join your mailing list? All of the above? Your website design should move the user toward that goal with a seamless and pleasant journey. The website should anticipate what the visitor wants before they do and prompt them accordingly. It should be a place they want to stay at and return to in the future.
In addition to conversions, good UX can improve search engine rankings, and even save money on customer service by answering questions (with informative content or a FAQ section) before they’re asked. According to Forrester Research, research has shown that every dollar invested in UX averages $100 in return – an ROI of 9,900%! With all of this in mind can you afford NOT to focus on UX?
Peak Ed Designs will utilize our years of hard earned know-how to ensure that your website is designed for a positive experience. Our planning phase focuses on learning about our clients, their customers, and their business objectives, ensuring that the website we build is one that is designed for the task at hand. The success of our company, and yours, depends on it.
Is your website doing its job, or simply standing around looking nice?
Let’s make sure your users get what they came for! Boost your bottom line by improving your website’s UX design!