User Experience is Make or Break for Websites
Wednesday, 17th March 2021
What is it about certain websites that keep us coming back for more? And conversely, what is it about other sites that have us either simply clicking away as soon as we land on their home page, or getting so frustrated as we browse that we close the site no matter what stage of the process we’re in?
It all comes down to one simple thing: User Experience.
According to usability.gov, User Experience (UX) is a website’s ability to focus “on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. It also takes into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project.”
But what does this all mean?
Simply put, it means that a website has allowed a visitor to:
- Land on any page on the website
- Scroll through the different pages with ease
- Understand exactly what the website is about
- Complete their intended goal
Within the above functional process, has the website given the user a tangible feeling of:
- Value – has the time spent on the website been worthwhile?
- User-friendliness – did the user feel they could find their way around easily?
- Connection – does the site design and brand resonate with the user?
- Accessibility – for users with a disability, has the website offered them ways to browse that help them achieve the same feeling of value, user-friendliness etc.?
- Credibility – does the website give the user confidence that the business and/or information is legitimate and trustworthy?
On the face of it these may all seem fairly obvious…but read the question in the first paragraph again… why is it that some sites capture your attention every time, and become the first option for you when you’re browsing? And what is the converse?
The answer of course is that many websites think they’ve taken UX into account, but are failing at one or more of the core requirements that make a good UX. And those sites that do resonate have refined their UX to ensure their target visitor enjoys a great UX.
What can you do to ensure a good UX?
Firstly, it’s important to know and understand what your business does and how it’s perceived by your target customers. This will help you define and refine your visual approach to ensure that the ‘first impression’ is a positive one.
You’ll also need to be clear on what it is you want your website to do for your business – are you looking for leads or enquiries? Are you selling products or services? Is your site simply about information? Refining the business imperative will help guide your website journeys that you want your customers to make.
Once you have these two key approaches defined, take the following into account as you plan your website:
- Stick to some of the most-established conventions – a simple, easy-to-find navigation, easily-identifiable calls-to-action buttons, where you place your contact information, your search function, social media links and shipping information should all be in places where visitors expect to find them.
- Structure your content in a visually-appealing way – use conventional header structures to break up your pages in a way that guides a visitor’s eye easily down the page. Use standard (and preferably sans-serif) web-fonts and enough variety in size, weight, colour and type-contrast to give all the visual clues a visitor needs.
- Keep your content succinct and your paragraphs short – you should have enough relevant content on each page to give visitors the information they’re looking for, and also to help with SEO, but break paragraphs up and create enough white space to ease the burden on the visitor’s eye.
- Limit the use of ‘noisy’ elements – flashy elements, auto-play videos or audio, too many graphical elements and other clutter can deter even the most tolerant web user. Wherever possible, keep your site simple, visually-elegant and de-cluttered!
- Use visual cues to guide visitors – the simple maxim here is ‘if you want someone to click it, make it obvious’ – whether your Call to Action buttons are larger, a different colour or indicate clickability when hovered over, make sure a visitor know what can be clicked on.
- Mobile responsiveness – this is no longer an optional ‘nice-to-have’ – over 85% of website searches and visits come from mobile devices, so your website needs to offer a user a seamless experience no matter the device they’re using.
- Keep your website light and well-optimised – images that are too large, pages that load too slowly, broken links and other barriers to good UX can be a website killer!
- Accessibility is key – all web browsers, including those with visual or other impairments, need to be accommodated by your website.
- Getting your website’s UX right from the start is absolutely critical, but there is also an ongoing process of refinement and evolution. As your website gathers data, you should look to reinvest this regularly to improve areas that need attention and help visitors to your site complete their goals as often as possible.
Remember, the better your UX, the better your goal conversion and ultimately the better your website’s contribution to your bottom line!
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