You could have the best product in the world.
You could have the most beautiful looking website in the world with the most stunning images in the world. This means you'll get optimum market share, right?
If you don't have a clear user journey with consideration given to UX, you could be experiencing high bounce rates or exits from your site before the action you want the prospect to perform. Here are some questions to ask about your business's website and whether it does what is required to deliver results.
What is UX?
UX, or User Experience, is a term coined by Donald Norman in the mid 1990s. Initially referring to a wider spectrum of applications, this has become gradually more relevant for web, with us spending more time online, as well as becoming more savvy, and being able to discern the difference between good and bad browsing experiences. Numerous areas make up the user experience, in terms of look, feel, function and performance, but it's ultimately about how easy it is for a user to interact with your site, and if it gives them the appropriate benefit.
The questions you need to be asking...
What do I want people to do on my site?
Ironically, your best place to start is at the end. Are you looking to:
- Inform them of a products and/or services elsewhere?
- Promote offline actions?
- Drive deep engagement on the site?
- Drive purchases?
Knowing this will provide vital insight for the next step in the journey.
Is the customer journey laid out logically?
The structure of your website is of HUGE importance. You need to understand where on your site your prospects are landing, and how easy it is for them to move through the necessary steps to complete their journey.
Look at the most visited landing pages - are they relevant to the user, giving them the right information and actions? Say your most popular product is a pencil, but you make a higher profit/have a better margin on a monitor; you may want to push the monitor more on the homepage to drive more sales, but if you don't put the pencil on there, which is what more visitors want, your bounce rates and page exits will increase, making your site less valuable to a customer. This will reduce how many conversions you get, and have a bearing on page/domain ranking (i.e the quality score google gives your website).
Is my navigation clear and well labelled?
If you're looking to guide people on a journey through your website, they need to clearly understand where they're going. If it's hard to find what they are after, again you'll experience an unneccesary drop off.
Navigation and site heirarchy go hand in hand - is the site structure simple enough to navigate and light on layers? If so, it'll improve the customer experience, as well as improve SEO performance.
While a simple heirarchy approach will make it easy to simplify menus, an additional consideration should be the buttons themselves - are they easy to read, and are they easy to click on, including on mobile.
Does my site function correctly across devices?
With mobile useage overtaking desktop in both users and time spent, cross-platform functionality is a massive consideration for your user experience. We've all been on a mobile site where you have to pinch and zoom, with buttons you couldn't accurately press with a pin, and it just makes it annoying. Let's not even mention the pop-up subscribe windows on which you can't navigate to the CLOSE (X) button to get back to your browsing.
If you don't have a responsive site, or a mobile only version, it's one of the best ways you could invest for a quick win.
Does the language align with my personas?
As with all marketing, materials, tone of voice is important. Your users want to know that you understand them, and that you understand their pain points, as well as, quite literally, speaking their language.
Look at any data/intelligence you have on your customers and target market to develop buyer personas and see if you're using appropriate language. If someone is a high level casual user of a product, the last thing they want to initially see is a set of technical specs.
Is all text clear and legible?
Many a website makes a point of using beautiful and unique fonts to reflect their brand's originality and creativity. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases this comes at the expense of legibility.
Whilst this won't directly damage page rankings (as the text remains the same), if people can't read what you've written, they won't hang about and struggle.
Are my loading times reasonable?
In a world of super fast broadband and 4G mobile data, most users aren't content with pages being slow to load. In fact, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in two seconds or less, with pages taking over three seconds contributing to high abandon rates. This is all relative to content to an extent though, so don't judge every site on the same meter.
For this element, there are a number of tools such as Page Speed Online, Web Page Test and Page Speed to help you analyse site speed, and there are plugins for many CMS platforms to assist with streamlining, along with a lot of easily accessible tips online.
Key takeaway: Empathy
Whilst there are plenty of complex methodologies and approaches to improving your UX, the point with this blog is to start with the simple stuff.
The single best way to get a quick feel for the user experience of your site is to put yourself in the user's shoes and try using the site in the ways you intend for them to use it. With a critial approach, you'll find out a lot of answers quickly and efficiently.