When you watch a movie or go to a restaurant, you have a certain anticipation of what your “user experience” will be like. If your experience wasn’t what you expected, you’re not likely to recommend that movie to anyone or go back to a particular restaurant again. Visitors to your website also have certain expectations in mind. And if those visitors aren’t pleased, they probably won’t be coming back or spreading the word to their friends to check it out. Ultimately, making an effort to improve your website’s user experience can increase website traffic and keep happy visitors coming back. Consider the following tips to improve the experience for users.
1. Design for Your Target Audience
Dig deep into your data to get a good idea of who your target audience is and design your site for those users. Even if your site is generating sufficient traffic, UX issues could still be affecting your conversions. Take a look at your Google Analytics reports to see how long visitors are sticking around and what particular actions they are taking when on your site. Pay attention to the feedback you’re getting to get some direction if you’re planning a website redesign to fine-tune your site’s focus.
2. Keep It Simple and Direct
Attention spans today are just under ten seconds. This means simple is best when it comes to web design, especially with how your layout and content. Your homepage, in particular, should just be the basics of your business (e.g., what your business is and what you offer) presented in a way that makes a good first impression to visitors while also offering enough info to convince them to stay. For aspects of your business involving more detail, use internal links to other pages on your site that provide more details on your products and services.
3. Create an Appealing User Interface
Also known as the “flow” of your site, user interface is what determines a visitor’s experience. Ideally, you want a structure that’s has a sensible rhyme and reason based on how your intended audience is likely to interact with your site. Give your users easy access to everything they’ll need when visiting any of your website’s pages, not just your homepage. Why? Because users’ first experience with your business can be from any of your landing pages, depending on what they’re searching for.
4. Choose the Right Visuals
Graphic design is all about finding the right combination of visuals and text. Achieve this goal by using one or two photos or images likely to capture the attention of visitors. It’s also the visuals on your site that will give you a boost with your SEO efforts since most searches today are visual in nature. Stick with images, photos, or videos relevant to your brand you’ll likely increase website traffic. With your color scheme, choose 2–3 colors that work well together. As far as the graphic design elements you choose, go with visuals that are:
• Relevant to your business/brand
• High in quality (which encourages sharing)
• Sized in a way that doesn’t detract from any related text
5. Keep Text Easy On the Eye
Text is what drives home your main selling points on your site. The first thing you’ll want to do with any text you use is to make it readable. Limit your fonts to a maximum of three. Break up paragraphs in a logical order, highlight key points with heads and subheads, and make what you present easier to digest with bullet points where appropriate.
6. Make Navigation Convenient
Don’t forget to make improvements with navigation part of your website redesign project. Specifically, navigation includes how well users can get from one section of your site to another. A lot of sites use a hamburger menu designthat automatically drops down when clicked. While it may be an effective navigation feature, it can also cause confusion for users not accustomed to it. Instead, consider strategically placing links to your website’s other sections on your homepage. For your other webpages, make your logo a link back to your homepage so visitors can easily get back to your site’s starting point.
7. Use ‘Negative Space’ Effectively
Just like your closets need to be freed of clutter now and then, so does your website. Everything that’s on each of your webpages should be presented in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the eye for visitors. Leave space around text, images/videos, icons, and other web design elements to allow visitors to take in what’s on your site without being overwhelmed. Negative space, or white space, also makes it easier for mobile visitors to your site to tap and swipe. Navigation should also be designed in a way that makes it easy to find info on your site, which is a top priority for nearly 80 percent of consumers.
8. Keep What’s Hot On Top
An “above the fold” approach to page layout is a holdover term from the newspaper industry that refers to the placement of important headlines or stories on the top half of the page. With websites, above the fold refers to the top part of a webpage, or the part of a page visitors see first when first arriving to your site. Improve your users’ experience by putting the attention-getting text or visuals front and center on your homepage.
9. Appropriately Use Links
Links can improve an user’s experience in one of two ways on your site. Strategically places links can direct users to other webpages. Internal links can direct visitors’ attention to the blog section of your site or to various service or product pages. If you’re using links to lead to other content on your site, make sure it doesn’t open in a new tab to avoid disrupting the UX. Links that lead to external sources, however, can open in new window to allow an user to check click between tabs instead of being taken completely away from your site.
10. Have a Clear Call to Action
Without a clear CTA, visitors aren’t going to know what action you want them to take. Your site’s UX can also be affected if it’s difficult to find a CTA when a visitor is ready to complete a purchase, make a call, or request more information. Add appropriate words to your CTA (e.g., “View Choices Here,” “Buy Now”) and choose a color that stands out to make it obvious where it is on your site.
11. Make Contact Info Easily Accessible
Visitors aren’t going to go on a scavenger hunt just to find your contact info. It should be obvious where to find your contact info if it’s not automatically included in your footer or directly on your homepage. Be sure all important contact details are listed, including:
• Your business’ name and address
• Phone and fax numbers
• Email address
12. Avoid Auto-play Features
Whether it’s a video or music you have featured on your site, don’t have it automatically play when visitors to your site. With music, also include the option to turn it off or mute it since it could end up being a distraction or annoyance for some visitors. Don’t let any music or videos play on a continuous loop either.
13. Encourage Social Media Visits with Links
Your site is the central point of your brand’s online visibility, but it’s not the only way searchers can engage with your business. Boost your users’ experience by including social media links on your site to give visitors direct access to your social platforms. Another option is to embed your social media posts on your site so visitors can see what real-time interactions are going on with your brand.
14. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
Since more than half of all consumers use smartphones and similar devices to get business info, it only makes sense to have a site that’s as mobile friendly as possible. The recommended approach to web design today is go with a responsive design, which allows your site to accommodate whatever screen it happens to appear on. Further improve your website’s mobile friendliness by:
• Keeping content concise (e.g., short paragraphs, descriptive headlines)
• Appropriately size images and watch font sizes
• Make your CTA a clickable/tapable link with your phone number so mobile visitors won’t have to leave your site to call you
15. Don’t Forget Your Footer
For mobile users, there’s no real “bottom” of a page. Consequently, your footer can be prime real estate on your site and a valuable source of info for visitors. A lot well-performing websites today use the footer as the place for links to things like FAQs, company bios or “about us” pages, contact info, and site maps (a list of all of your site’s pages). If you have an e-commerce site, include links to your shipping info and return policy in your footer.
We’re well beyond the days when simply having a website was all a business needed to do online. Today, websites have to keep the anticipated user’s experience in mind because there are plenty of competitors out there ready to welcome visitors not pleased with your site. The best way to get your website’s user experience right is to put yourself in the place of someone visiting it. Shift your mindset and honestly ask yourself, “If I were visiting this site for the first time, would I want to come back and would I recommend it to others?”. It may seem like a lot of work, but such efforts can definitely pay off as you increase website traffic and meaningful engagement with your brand.