Build and they will come, right? Not quite… You might have created a sparkling new website, but if it’s not user-friendly or optimised then you might need to go back to the drawing board. Not only will a website with poor user experience turn people away on their first visit, but 88% of consumers are less likely to return altogether.
User experience (UX), encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with a company, its services, and its products. While many factors can influence UX, the key ones are:
More specifically, when it comes to your website, UX best practices focus on making a website both appealing and easy to use. Fail to do this and you risk users bouncing straight off your homepage and looking elsewhere.
For business owners, it’s about leveraging UX to encourage conversions on your website, which is the action you want your users to take (usually something significant such as make a purchase or completing an important task successfully e.g. sign up).
So, what are some of the most effective ways to improve your website’s user experience?
1. Simple navigation
It’s important to ensure your navigation is easy to understand and well structured. No one wants to go hunting for the information they’re after, or the action they want to take. A disorganised interface will confuse and repel site visitors. If they can’t use it, they will find what they’re looking for elsewhere.
Keep it as simple as possible – users should be able to access any point of your website to find the information they need in three clicks or less. If you haven’t built your site yet, create a sitemap to identify the pages you want, and plan the content accordingly.
2. Include clear calls to action
You need to guide users to take the action that you want them to. Make sure they stand out in order to grab their attention, for example, banners, pop up boxes, buttons. You don’t need to ‘spam’ the user with interruptive messaging, but simply include user-friendly content that invites them to subscribe, visit your shop, fill out a form, claim a discount – anything you consider to be a successful conversion.
3. Add social share buttons
Ensure your website is shareable on different social media platforms. If you don’t, you’re missing out on another opportunity to generate traffic from them. You’ll also gain site visitors that might never have known your website / business existed. Make it easy for users to share content and pages from your website to their favourite social platforms e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn.
4. Use quality images
Quality images will not only catch attention, but they will reflect the quality of your business as a whole. If your budget is tight, try to strike a clear balance between stock images and original high quality content. Low quality images can have a negative impact on user experience.
5. Include a blog
A blog section on your website is a great way to let potential customers know more about your business and gain their trust by providing useful information through blog posts. You can also use blog post titles and content to help optimise your website for your target keywords, which can boost your SEO.
Not only can a blog encourage user interaction with your website (a positive SEO signal to Google), but it can keep current customers engaged with your business. An onsite blog encourages increased online traffic to your website through ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) and provides quality fodder for social media promotion. It also positions you / your business as a knowledgeable authority on key industry trends and developments that might affect your peers and customers.
Additionally, an About Us section on your website is a great way to introduce you / your team, increase trust and add some personality to your brand. Products / services can seem more appealing to users who know the business backstory, as well as the people and values that underpin it.
6. Optimise for mobile
Not all potential customers that visit your website do so via a desktop or laptop computer. In fact, 60% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. There are approximately 4.32 billion active mobile internet users and, by 2025, there will be over 1 billion 5G connections worldwide. Businesses are wising up to the benefits of adopting the ‘mobile first’ mindset. It’s important to keep this in mind when creating your website and marketing strategy.
User experience on a mobile device is very different to desktop. Mobile sites need to offer a more simplistic version of your website to avoid condensing too many elements onto a tiny screen. It also needs to be more navigable and have a quicker loading speed – as mobile users have a shorter attention span and more of an immediate need.
As we all know, bigger brands have the budget to go that one step further and create a dedicated mobile app. While this might not be on the cards for your business at the moment, a responsive website that adapts to the device it’s being viewed on can be just as effective in engaging your site visitors (and quicker to get up and running). Not only that, but Google filters its search results for those searching on a mobile device, giving preferential rankings to mobile-optimised websites.
A study from Google (conducted by independent market research firms Sterline Research and SmithGeiger), also revealed the below information about smartphone internet users:
- 74% are more likely to return to your site if it’s mobile-friendly
- 50% will use you less often if your site is not mobile-friendly, even if they like your business
- 67% are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site
- 75% prefer visiting a mobile-friendly site
- 48% feel frustrated and annoyed if your site is not mobile-friendly
- 48% feel you don’t care about their business if your site is not mobile-friendly.
Additionally, when comparing traffic market share between desktop, tablet and mobile in the UK in January 2023, mobile topped the chart at 62.90%, with desktop coming in second at 32.51% and tablet at 4.59%.
As the stats show, mobile optimisation can’t be overlooked when it comes to your website – no matter what industry you’re in.
7. Use white space
Also known as negative space, both terms refer to the space between, within and surrounding an object in an image.
White space is an essential design principle that helps break up a page, making it easier for online users to navigate, while also increasing readability. While your use of white space depends on your style preferences, white space helps your site have a less compacted view, allowing users to browse and navigate without much strain. If your website lacks any type of white space – e.g. little bit of separation between elements or sections – add it to create a more visually appealing website.
8. Prioritise Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Optimising your website content for search engines increases its chance of being discovered, indexed and ranked – therefore making it more discoverable to users.
People browsing the web using keywords that are relevant to your offering will be able to find your content and be directed to your landing page that answers their question, or provides the information they’re looking for. By directing users to the exact landing page on your website that will help them, you’re creating an enjoyable experience while simultaneously shortening the distance towards conversion.
Ensure you optimise your content with keywords that are relevant to your offering. Be mindful that higher volume keywords can be very competitive – think carefully about your keyword choices, as you might find that more niche, longer tail keywords offer better conversion opportunities.
Within the first 7 seconds of meeting, people will have formed a solid impression of who you are – and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness. The same applies when users visit your website and meet your business for the first time.
Just as you would keep your target audience in mind when developing your product or service offering, keep UX at the forefront of your website development process. Increasing customer satisfaction can increase your sales and ROI – it’s certainly worth putting the time in to get it right.