If you want to turn more of your website visitors into paying customers, then it's vital to create a great user experience (UX).
User experience refers to how customers feel when interacting with your business, products and services online.
A user-friendly website is obviously part of this, but user experience design extends far beyond your user interface (UI). It encompasses all aspects of the user experience.
While UX was once treated as an afterthought, today businesses realise that it is one of the keys to success and an important way to stand out from the competition. All your efforts are for naught if your terrible user experience drives people away before they hand over their money.
Improve your user experience in 6 steps
If you can't appoint a chief experience officer (CXO), there are a few simple steps you can take to improve your user experience and help keep customers coming back. Below we’ll review everything you need to know to get started.
1. Make a great first impression
If your website has an extremely high bounce rate, where people leave after a few seconds, then you're clearly not making a great first impression.
Learn what people want from your site and don't make them work too hard to find it.
You might employ "user-directed segmentation" by asking new visitors a few simple questions when they arrive, so you can direct them to the best landing page.
Or you could use "keyword-based segmentation" to automatically send them to a certain landing page depending on the search terms they used to find your website.
2. Ensure fast page loads
Don't leave people hanging – 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load.
Decent web hosting is obviously important because if you skimp on hosting, then your site will be slow to respond – especially when there's a spike in visitors.
Good web design is also important when it comes to fast load times. This includes:
- Optimising image sizes
- Prioritising which page elements load first
- Enabling browser caching
- Limiting the number of plugins on your website
- Reducing your use of external scripts
3. Implement an uncluttered design
Once your landing page has loaded, you don't want to scare people away with overly-busy visual design.
Less is more when it comes to a user-friendly web design.
Don't blast them with annoying audio, force them to wait through long splash screens or make it too difficult for them to find important information on the page.
Watch out for elegant fonts that look fancy but can be hard to read. Consider accessibility, such as ensuring sufficient contrast between the text and background, along with ALT text for images to assist vision-impaired visitors.
Also make sure your site is mobile-friendly, considering that many people reach for their smartphone before their computer. Don't forget that Google penalises poor mobile design in search rankings.
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4. Add fresh content
Just like a physical store, your website needs to look like it's open for business in order to give potential customers confidence. Your site shouldn't appear as if it was built years ago and then abandoned.
Avoid using too many stock images — they can make your site look generic and mass-produced. Regularly adding fresh content also helps your site look active, such as details of your latest promotions and customer reviews.
An active blog lets you engage customers while giving your website a lived-in feel.
It's an opportunity to share your industry knowledge, as well as details of any corporate social responsibility and philanthropic endeavours.
5. Design intuitive navigation
Once they hit your landing page, make it easy for visitors to find their way around your site.
Stick with tried-and true-navigation elements such as a main menu, running across the top or down the side of the page. You don’t want to make people work too hard to figure out how to find what they need.
When considering user experience design, try using "sticky" elements that remain on screen as you scroll down the page. You might use this for easy access to the main menu, or other important elements such as contacting customer support. Just make sure these elements don't take up too much screen space.
Ensure that your navigation works well on both desktop and mobile. Most importantly, check regularly for broken links as your site changes and expands over time.
6. Offer a smooth checkout
If your eCommerce website is littered with abandoned shopping carts, then perhaps your online checkout needs work.
Once again, page load times are important when it comes to going through the checkout and processing payments.
If things take too long, or it looks as if something has gone wrong, people won't hang around.
Beyond speed, a smooth checkout also involves streamlining the process on desktop and mobile devices. Make sure you:
- Offer a range of payment options
- Minimise the steps required to make a purchase
- Enable auto-completing and validating shipping addresses, which speeds things up and reduces errors.
Also include a guest checkout option for people who don't want to go through the hassle of creating an account. This will likely increase the number of people who make purchases.
Looking beyond user experience design
Remember, a great user experience isn't just about making your website look great, it also needs to be great to use.
Make a great first impression with dedicated landing pages and fast load times, then ensure that your site looks open for business.
Allow for people to easily find what they need, navigate their way around your site and get through the checkout. This will ensure they'll come back for more.