Some companies think of their website as a trifold brochure, something that tells a little bit about you and what you do or offer. But a good website offers so much more: the chance to convert someone immediately from browsing to buying.
A user’s experience while on your website can make him or her likely to return or prompt them to bounce within a few seconds. If your bounce rate is higher than 70 percent, it’s time to take a good look at many factors, and user experience is one of them.
What is UX?
User experience: several tasks focused on optimizing a product or website for effective and enjoyable use. In other words, your website should be easy for users to figure out and pleasant to visit.
You might also hear the term UI or user interface, which is slightly different, though often used synonymously. User interface is the look and feel, presentation and interactivity of your website. However, the two must work together to encourage conversion. In The Gap Between UX And UI Design the author said, “Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While Something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.”
Why They Matter
The common word in both those terms is “user.” Many people get involved in redesigning a company’s website. This committee wants to make sure their stuff is highlighted on the website, and the executives want to talk about all the excellent work they are doing. In all of those discussions, where is the user? He or she is the one using your website to buy, call, contact, learn. Is the site built so that someone can visit, figure out what you do, make, or sell within a matter of seconds and decide whether it’s the right fit for them? Your user probably doesn’t care about many things you feel it’s important to share. When designing your website, you must keep users at the forefront. Consider this:
- A bad mobile experience prompts 52 percent of users to say they are less likely to engage a company.
- About 79 percent of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another.
- One study reported that ESPN.com revenues jumped 35 percent after they listened to their community and incorporated suggestions into their homepage redesign.
- A website’s credibility is 75 percent based on the overall aesthetics.
How to Design for the User
Now that you’re ready to help your users, here are some ways to do that:
- Don’t be afraid of white space. Business leaders often feel it necessary to cram a lot of content into the “front page” or above the fold, especially. When used correctly, white space improves the overall design, giving it a clean, professional appearance and making it easy for your user’s eyes to process the page. Overwhelming a visitor with too much everything right off the bat is sure to send him or her clicking on the “back” button.
- Make it mobile friendly. By now, you’ve heard this plenty of times. Yet some businesses still aren’t making websites that work well on anything other than a desktop computer. At least half, probably far more, of your customers are using their phones and tablets to browse the web. That number is only increasing. Therefore, your website should think mobile first and desktop second, not the other way around.
- Create a site that loads quickly. If you have tons of massive images and video weighing your page down, ditch them. According to Kissmetrics, 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- Include calls to action on every page. Tell your visitor what you want them to do. Maybe you want them to call, or maybe your goal is to have them sign up for a free consultation. Whatever it is, make sure it’s evident and easy to see on every page. No, really. Every. Single. Page. Start your call to action with an active verb and make it a button or something else that stands out.
- Stop saying “click here.” It’s not 1996. Hyperlink the actual words of what you’re talking about, such as the article title and stop using the word “here.”
- Make it easy to find the content. Some customers want to know more about you, what you do, what you sell. Make it easy for them to learn about your company, find your About page, your blog, the FAQ section, or the product info. If someone has to click six times to get to that, you’re in trouble.
- Look for broken links. You don’t want customers landing on a 404 page. Make sure someone (or something) is checking your site regularly for broken links.
- Stop using carousel sliders. Studies show they don’t convert. Users forget about the old slide when the new one pops up, and only 1 percent will click on them anyway.
- Skip the stock photos. Use real images of your team, your products, you. Stock photography is the go-to for many businesses. After all, your team is shy, you don’t want to show your grungy office space, or you don’t want to pay for a professional photographer. Your visitors know stock photography when they see it. They ignore those images. Real photos get their attention and engagement. Check out this study of a moving company that increased its revenue by $10,000 a month after switching away from stock photos.
- Test, test, and test again. Ask your customers what they find useful on the site. Study your analytics. Which pages receive clicks? Which pages receive none? What content seems to resonate? Which call-to-action buttons work better than the others?