Ever wonder why you go back to the same grocery shop every time? Or perhaps the reason why you go back to the same hair stylist, or favorite restaurant? Simple. These businesses have fostered a positive experience, which in turn creates loyalty towards their brands.
In today's digital world, brand experience and engagement are the major factors behind loyalty. Design, atmosphere, speed, and problem resolution are all pillars of a great consumer experience, and these same factors contribute to their digital experience immensely.
Billy Gregory, Senior Accessibility Engineer at The Paciello Group, humorously put it as, “When UX doesn’t consider ALL users, shouldn’t it be known as “SOME User Experience” or… SUX?”
Great user experience makes sure that your visitors can find exactly what they’re looking for quickly and easily. It’s up to you to create a well designed site with rich content that keeps your customers and partners engaged and coming back for more.
There’s plenty to say about how to enhance user experience (UX) in every area of a business, however the guide below streamlines all that into some great tips that will help you avoid common UX mistakes on your website. Thus, creating a site that’s easy to use and provides an engaging experience for the visitor.
What Is User Experience?
User experience (UX) refers to the set of behaviors that customers display when interacting with a website. Particularly, user experience defines users’ impressions of your website or other applications according to how easy and pleasant it is to use. When you enhance UX, you create a better place for customers to interact with your brand, and reduce friction between your website and your target audience.
The Importance of Enhancing Your User Experience
When you enhance user experience, you help guide your website visitors through the conversion funnel. Customers encounter fewer obstacles on their way to make a purchase. The conversion funnel turns prospects into leads and leads into customers.
A prospect visits your website for the first time. He or she might read a blog post or poke around the main navigation pages. If that person has a favorable impression of your business, he or she might follow you on social or sign up for your email list.
Once you have the prospect’s contact information, you have a lead. You can begin nurturing that customer toward a purchase by providing exceptional value through tips, advice, discounts, and free tools.
If you haven’t taken the time to enhance your user experience, your prospect or lead might grow cold. He or she decides not to give your business more time - or money - because of friction that person encountered while navigating your website and other online presences.
Why is User Experience Important?
User experience goes well beyond a pretty web design. If your website doesn’t give users what they expect and help them make choices that are best for them, you’ll likely lose revenue.
More importantly, brand credibility and recognition have become increasingly important among consumers. They look for things like social proof even if they don’t know what it’s called. Failing to publish testimonials and other evidence of brand popularity can hurt you.
UX has also become more granular. Adding just one unnecessary field to your checkout form can result in abandoned shopping carts. You have less than one minute to hook your visitor, but even if you’re successful, you can lose the sale because of UX obstacles.
User experience is important because it provides insights into what customers want and expect from your website. Failing to deliver can prove disastrous for your brand, so you have to pay attention to the smaller details as well as the bigger picture.
Steps to Improve User Experience
Before you sketch out any ideas for a UX design, study your brand. What are the company’s primary mission and core values? Once you understand this, you’ll better understand your business’s typical customer.
Creating a user-centered design is difficult if you don’t know who you’re designing for. Once you know your target audience in general, dig deeper into internal data and create a buyer persona. Look at what geographic locations visitors come from and other details such as what type of device they use when accessing your site.
Study internal data as well and poll current customers for details about what drives their purchases from your brand. And you can do this easily using SiteRecording by 500apps, it gives you every insight you need to make informed decisions, create better digital experience for your visitors, and improve user experience. Once you’ve gathered all the data on your typical customer, create buyer personas that represent their features. You may wind up with more than one buyer persona. Filter site changes and user-friendliness through each persona.
Once you have an idea of your buyers, take a look at competitors and their audience. Take notes on what works well and what doesn’t, so you can repeat their successes and learn from their failures. Understanding your buyers allows you to address their pain points and better meet their needs in your website copy and design.
Tailor your design to target user preferences
Once you know your target audience, figure out a design that speaks to that demographic or group. Make design and layout choices based on the preferences of the target audience most likely to visit your site.
Let’s say most of your visitors are from Generation Z, a group that boasts about $44 billion in retail market spending. Generation Z prefers a streamlined layout that loads fast and works well on mobile devices. Think about the general preferences of the generation who buys your products, including colors, fonts, shapes, layouts and overall styles.
Keep in mind that the colors chosen for your design must also match the brand’s color palette and work well with surrounding features. The challenge is to reconcile user preferences with your existing brand style. If your brand uses muted colors only, but you want to speak to a younger target group with some brighter colors, you need to find a middle ground that incorporates some of those user preferences without sacrificing your brand style.
At the same time, make sure the contrast between the colors used in your design and the background allow for easy viewing even for those with vision impairments or accessing your site on smaller screens.
Also pay attention to user preferences for navigation and layout. Younger people are more likely to access your site via mobile devices, so placing clickable elements within thumb’s reach and using responsive graphics makes viewing easier on smaller screens. Millennials prefer less cluttered spaces with plenty of white space, so if that’s your target audience, use important elements only on the page.
Users have a sense of where your navigation should go, and if you’re too far outside the norm, they may grow exasperated and move away from your site. You have shorter than you think to make a first impression on visitors.
An intuitive layout similar to what most other sites use allows visitors to see where key features are at a glance and makes your site more accessible. People are accustomed to seeing a particular order in a website’s layout and they’ll immediately look to that area for features on your page, such as the home button (or your logo that acts as a home button) in the far left spot in your navigation bar.
Navigation forms the entire architecture of your site. Look at internal analytics and see where visitors head when they land on your website. The top performers likely form categories for your navigation structure. Elements such as content and FAQs go under each main category.
Where you place elements in your navigation bar matters, too. For example, the most critical categories should appear first and less important ones farthest to the right. Since visitors often use the Home button to navigate back to the landing page, it should appear on the farthest left or on top of the nav bar. Place your contact button to the far right, since that’s where most sites put it.
Follow active trends
Staying up-to-date on current trends is a vital part of designing a website or store. Knowing what’s trending with your target demographic lets you tap into popular culture. In addition to staying on top of current web design trends, you can hone in on elements that make your brand stand out, such as shapeshifting logos that engage the user or ghost letters, which involves typography outlined in white but with a transparent interior, so the background shows through. This helps the user remember why they landed on the page to start with and highlights your hero image behind the words. With UserTracker from 500apps, you can quickly and easily analyze user behavior to identify feature gaps, improve customer experience, reduce churn, and increase customer retention.
Consumers expect that you’ll understand their pain points and what they need from a brand. Following pop culture and current trends allows you to see what drives your audience and solve their problems. In addition to browsing social media, read blogs to stay up to date on trends and pain points.
Less is actually more
Cut down on the elements on your page or in your store for better user experience. A cluttered website or storefront is difficult for users to navigate. They don’t know where to go first and what elements are essential.
White space is more essential than you think. Learn the balance between negative and positive space, so there is enough room to show what’s available. Highlight important products and information by adding even more white space around this. Extra negative space also works in a store where you’d like user attention drawn to a new product. Place it on a large table and leave the aisles around it clear.
For a website, keep your focus on one or two elements—both in terms of design and content. Highlight your strengths as a brand and cut anything that doesn’t match your overall purpose. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll aggravate everybody.
Evaluate and test
Another element to look at to improve your website’s UX is usability. It’s vital to evaluate this before going live. Take a look at how usable your site is for everyone, including those with vision impairments or who might need to utilize voice commands. In an ideal world, you’d have a responsive website, which means it would be able to scale up or down to fit any screen size (whether that be a desktop, tablet, or smartphone). But responsive design isn’t something you can have with just an easy click.
Still, the fastest way to send mobile and tablet users away from your site is to ignore how your website functions on mobile and tablet devices. For example, if a mobile user has to zoom in to view your site on their device, or if your buttons are too small for them to easily click, many mobile users will simply back out of your site.
Make any final adjustments to your site before taking it live. It’s also important to consistently test your site and make modifications as the makeup of your audience changes or new methods arise.
Even after your website goes live or your store opens, get feedback from site visitors and thoroughly test all components to make sure the UI and UX work. Conduct polls and ask your customers what they love and hate about your site or your store and make adjustments as needed. Forms are a great way to do this. You can create great forms using our form building solution, Forms.io.
Pay attention to any customer complaints about the usability of your site or store. If someone comes into your store and mentions that it’s difficult to get to the checkout area because of clutter, think through how you can improve this. Pay attention to what customers say, and you’ll consistently enhance your business for their use.
Testing and fixing issues shouldn’t be a one-time job when your site goes live or your store opens, but something you regularly conduct as part of your maintenance tasks.
UX: Your Not-So Secret Weapon
SEO has tactics, sure. But at it's core it's mostly about creating high-valuable content, providing great solutions and great user experience. Focus on mastering the fundamentals, build the tactics on top.
Focusing on user experience is a powerful method of driving customers to your business, as well as retaining them. Customers want a seamless experience from the moment they step into your store or land on your website. They should know where to go and how to complete the sale without any major stumbling blocks. Look at your business through the eyes of your target audience and design to their preferences.
This should be a breeze using the 500apps all-in-one suite of over 30 apps covering sales, marketing, support, productivity and development. Trusted by 30,000 businesses, 500apps gives you an all-in-one, affordable, full-featured suite of apps to meet the needs of your entire business and grow faster.