5 Best Practices to Improve Your Website’s User Experience
User experience (often referred to as UX) is more than just how your website looks to a visitor – it’s their attitude while visiting your site, focusing as much on how easy and pleasant the visit is as on what they’re seeing and doing. Studies by the Statistic Brain Research Institute claim that people will likely look away from something if their attention isn’t engaged within 8 seconds; that includes your website, so make those seconds count!
Having a user-friendly website is essential for your business to succeed and thrive. To accomplish this, it’s important to understand your users, put yourself in their place and implement tools that will help you capture them. Here are some key areas to consider:
Know Your Users
Has your company already done research about the different types of people who visit your site? If not, you should. That data can be used to develop personas – data-driven depictions of various customer types that are interested in your products or services. A persona might be imaginary, but it represents the true voice of your user. Examining the behavior of personas can help you better understand your real users’ interests, needs and goals.
User testing is another way to figure out what people respond best to when looking at a website. There are a variety of methods for this; one of the most popular is A/B testing (also called split testing), an analytics tool that tries out different website design options and then measures your site’s overall usability. Hone in on several important elements, e.g., landing page content and images, CTA placement, drop-down menus, and see how user behavior changes when they move to different places on a page.
Embrace Simplicity in Design
Less is definitely more when it comes to effective website design to enhance UX. You don’t want your site to look cluttered, which can be confusing to visitors. Adding white space wherever possible – in margins, between paragraphs or graphics – is one way to help focus readers’ attention on your content.
Choose a simple and unified color scheme that incorporates just a handful of colors, no more than five or six, according to The Handbook of Computer-Human Interaction. You should also consider your target demographic when determining a color scheme. If you’re reaching out to a younger audience, try bright colors and graphics; older users might respond better to gentler tones.
The fonts on your website should be selected for legibility more than style, especially for written text. You don’t want your users to be distracted by overly fancy typefaces. This can be confusing and might result in someone leaving the site. The same is true of graphics. All images and photos should be intentional and used to either help your audience move to the next step towards completing a task or reinforce a larger message you want the site to convey.
Simplicity should play a notable role in your site’s navigation strategy. Make sure that your website is easy to navigate. Remember that 8-second rule? Nothing will push a user from a site faster than hard-to-follow navigation. Your menu and links must be uncomplicated and users should be able to quickly know where to go for the product or service they came there to find.
Always include a search bar to help site visitors zero in on specifics they want to know more about. If they have to click through a series of links to get somewhere, they might lose interest altogether. Drop-down menus are another helpful navigation characteristic, but keep them simple and short. If you’re offering a variety of choices, break them down into smaller categories so they’ll be easier to find.
You also must ensure that users can access your website across all platforms: cellphones, desktops, laptops, tablets, etc. More and more people use mobile devices to look at websites, so make sure that version of your site is as straightforward to use as the desktop application.
Create Direct, Clear and Actionable Content
The written content on your website needs to draw users in and direct them to your organization’s goal. Content elements like blogs, emails, special offers and other communications all should include the opportunity for your audience to take action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter
Website content also needs to be regularly updated, to increase ongoing traffic flow. Pay attention to the way your site content is organized; you don’t want to overwhelm viewers on any one page, which might keep them from reading further. Look at each page of content as a single meal course; it has to be easily consumed and digested before someone can comfortably move on to the next. Also, written content needs to be paired with engaging imagery to make an even stronger connection with site visitors.
Your Call to Action (CTA) buttons are extremely important and should appear on every page of your site. Their function is to get users to do something, whether it’s buy a product, subscribe to your newsletter or otherwise directly engage with your organization. CTAs can be placed anywhere on a webpage, but they’re generally most effective in the middle or bottom of a page, so they’re less aggressive and not “in your face” right away. Once a site visitor has clicked to the next step in a CTA, check that the completion process is quick and easy.
Consistency is an element that should be woven throughout the pages of your website, from its design to the color scheme to your content and message. Be unique when you can, but don’t stray too far from conventional design practices; you don’t want the UX to be confusing, and you want users to feel comfortable when checking out your site.
Pay attention to conventional design factors and stick with the tried and true, which are already easy choices for your audience. For example, website visitors are accustomed to seeing a business logo at the top of the page, usually a bit over to the left side. So go with that design choice and save your innovative moves for elsewhere.
Consistency is also important when you’re developing mobile applications. Your website should appear as similar as possible on all platforms. Make sure all the options that are in the desktop version show up on smartphones and tablets as well.
The most finely crafted website on the internet will go unnoticed if the user experience isn’t at the core of its design. Perhaps the best way to test your website user’s experience is internal testing: take a long look at it yourself. Try to look at the site with objective eyes. If it’s not working for you, it’s likely it won’t work for your site visitor, either.
If you’re still feeling a bit overwhelmed with the concept of web design, feel free to check out The Beginner’s Guide to Web Design. This guide packs tons of great information into a straightforward, easy to consume format that can help you elevate your web design knowledge. And if you want to take it a step further, get in touch with us about how we can help grow your digital presence.
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