User experience, often referred to as UX, is one of the most important aspects of websites but is often forgotten during the design phase of a site. Instead of leaving this critical aspect of a design to the end, or even completely forgotten, I challenge you to focus on the user’s experience as you plan and develop a website. The end result will be a more user-friendly website for your visitor.
So let’s dive into what UX is and how you can improve the user experience on your website.
What is UX?
User experience, or UX, is how your visitors interact with your website. This includes everything from the design to how easy it is to use the functionality of your website. If your website provides a good user experience, your visitors will stay on your site longer and be more likely to return in the future and recommend you to friends and family. A website with a frustrating user experience will usually make your visitors leave before buying your product or signing up for a service.
UX design principles
- Focus on the user
Both the design and the functionality of your website should focus on what your website visitor came to your site to find, learn, or do. This could be anything from finding information, such as a recipe or a blog post; to purchasing a product; to signing up for your services.
- Design for simplicity and consistency
You want your website to be consistent from page to page. For example, you want your buttons, colors, and fonts to stay the same throughout your website so that people can quickly look through a page to find what they are looking for.
You also want to keep pages simple and uncluttered, allowing the visitor to quickly look through a page, gather the information from that page, and follow your call-to-action so that they end up where you want them to be.
Also, remember to make sure your design works on both large and small screens – this is critical because 50% of your website visitors will be viewing your site on large screens, and the other half will be using small mobile devices. So if you neglect to make sure that your website is designed well for both, you will potentially lose half of your customers or clients.
- Functionality is always your primary goal
A beautiful and unique website will get you some “oohs and ahhs” but unless the site functions as expected, you will not get the sales, email signups, or contact form submissions.
Your #1 goal of your website is to drive your visitor to your call-to-action, but if that CTA is a broken link, button, form, or checkout page, you have lost that customer. A lost customer has a ripple effect; you also have lost the opportunity to make a great impression and have them refer you to others.
So, test everything on your site, including buttons, checkout, and forms. Make sure everything on your website can be easily found, and everything works.
Four reasons why is UX so important
1. User experience affects conversion rates
If a website is difficult to use or doesn’t work correctly, potential customers are likely to click away without completing what they came for. This means you have lost out on a potential sale, an opportunity to sign a client up for your services, or to add someone to your email list.
On the other hand, if your website is easy to use and the functionality works smoothly then people can easily buy and pay for your products, find and signup for your services, and add their name to your email list.
2. User experience impacts search engine optimization
Google and other search engines look at click-through rate and the amount of time people spend on your pages, to determine the quality and relevancy of your website. If users aren’t having a good experience on your site, and leave soon after they arrive, your “bounce” rate increases, which in turn will hurt your ranking in search results. Search engines assume that if people are quickly leaving your site that they aren’t finding what they need and therefore your site should rank lower in a search.
3. Good user experience leads to repeat visitors
People who enjoy using your website are more likely to return. This is especially important for businesses that rely on returning customers, such as e-commerce sites selling products or service providers who book sessions through their website. The harder it is for people to buy your product or schedule an appointment, the less likely they will return in the future or recommend other people to your business.
4. User experience can help you stand out from the competition
In today’s crowded marketplace, a great UX can be the difference between a successful website and one that struggles to attract visitors. Very few of us have a unique business; therefore we have to provide something “extra” to our customers and clients so that they choose our products and services over others. There are many ways to make your business stand out from your competitors. Some common ways include sending coupons, giving loyalty points for discounts, and free shipping. But an overlooked way to stand out from your competitors is through a great user experience on your website.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind if you want to improve your website’s user experience:
First, put yourself in the position of your website visitors and think about what they want and need when visiting your website.
Second, keep things simple and easy to use.
Third, test your product before launch to catch any problems your website visitor might have or any functionality on your site that might not work as expected.
Common User Experience Mistakes
When designing for user experience, it’s important to avoid common mistakes.
One of the most common mistakes is neglecting mobile users. Many websites are not responsive and do not look good on smaller screens. Remember that approximately 50% of website visitors will be looking at your site on a phone or other small screen. So if your site doesn’t work well on a small screen, you could potentially lose half of your customers or clients.
Another mistake is adding too many elements to the page, which can clutter the design and make it difficult for users to find what they’re looking for.
A third common mistake is forgetting to test your design and functionality before publishing a website page. This impact can be anything from font being too large on a mobile device to words wrapping, making it hard for your visitor to read. Or it can mean your checkout page is not working, and customers cannot buy your products. Either way, you make a poor impression on your website visitors and could lose sales, clients, and referrals.
Focusing on how your website visitor will view and use your website is an essential part of website design – because your ultimate goals for your website are to
- Showcase your business in the best light
- Make it easy for visitors to buy your products or sign up for your services
- Impress your visitors, so they return in the future and recommend your business to other people
- Keep people on your website so that search engines will see that you provide services and products that people want, and therefore they will rank your site higher in search results