Most marketers have grasped the concept that content is king. It is, after all, the most important digital trend this year. But there is another factor of content marketing that marketers need to understand in order to ensure their business’ success: user experience (“UX”).
UX is the general experience that a user has when visiting a website. It encompasses usability questions, such as: Was it easy to navigate? Was it pleasing to the eye? Was the technology efficient? Was the text informative? Did it give them what they were looking for? In short, will they visit your site again?
Contrary to what many strategists think, user experience and content are not two separate things. Substandard UX can obliterate great content, just as poor content can distract from the overall user experience. As Kevin Nichols, co-author of UX for Dummies says, “Next to good content, good UX is your best ally in winning over new customers and retaining existing ones.”
When we talk about content, we’re not referring to lengthy posts on your blog that are stuffed with keywords. We’re talking about anything that conveys your message to the user – whether product descriptions, infographics, images, videos, the“About” page, shopping cart, and so on.
So here’s how you can use content to effectively enhance the user experience:
Eye-catching, high-quality visuals contribute to a user’s experience when browsing your website. In this day of ultra-short attention spans, an accompanying image not ony breaks up a text-heavy page, but it also cultivates feelings of happiness. In fact, studies show that viewers actually interpret attractive things as working better.
Another way to leverage your visuals into producing results is to make images or videos “shoppable,” or interactive. For example, Kiosked is a platform that embeds call-to-action buttons into visual content. This turns still photos or video into points of purchase, allowing the viewer to buy your product without leaving the page.
Optimizing the layout of your web pages is another way to provide seamless UX. If a visitor to your site is inundated with dense text in various sizes, a collage of poor-quality images, or a color scheme that looks like a Skittles explosion—you can guarantee you’re losing customers.
The following example, from Branded3’s “Top 10 Worst Websites You’ll Wish You Hadn’t Seen,” illustrates exactly what you shouldn’t do very well.
Instead of inundating your site with an explosion of text, images, and colors, make good use of white space on every page. White space is exactly what it sounds like: the parts of a page that are devoid of anything, thus creating a sense of organization, and claritys. Not only does it exude a feeling of professionalism, it helps guide the reader’s eye through the hierarchy of information, highlighting the most important information first.
A clean layout is so essential to how content enhances the user experience, that a new “card” style layout has begun to dominate web design this year. Card design is a clean and simple way to organize the content on your web pages with boxes of information surrounded by whitespace. Card layouts also work well with responsive design for mobile viewing.
As User Testing puts it, “The purpose of any text on your website or app is to help your users accomplish their goals.” So for the love of legibility, don’t use tiny, cursive fonts or white text on a black background. You want your typography to work for you, not against you.
To ensure that your fonts are easy to read, keep the following in mind:
- Limit your characters to 50-75 per line and use at least a 12-16-point font.
- Since pure black text (#000000) tends to be harder to read and cause faster eye fatigue, choose very dark gray (#0D0D0D).
- While there isn’t a huge difference in readability between serif font (such as Times New Roman) and sans serif (such as Arial), overall people tend to read sans serif online.
Compelling Product Descriptions
You’re missing out on valuable opportunities to enhance user experience if you don’t spend the time to craft clear, engaging writing in your product (or services) descriptions. If you’re not a stellar writer, it’s worthwhile to hire a professional copywriter. Every piece of writing on your website, no matter how long or short, should convey your brand’s message and voice. If your business is young and hip, your product descriptions should be written in that tone. Are you a serious, traditional firm? Every word on your site should impart this feeling.
Eat24, an online food delivery service, stands out for their short copy. It’s clever and descriptive and therefore keeps the viewer on the page so they can learn more about the company—and, quite possibly, share it with their friends on social media.
Take their product description for example:
And last, and also perhaps most obvious,is writing quality content . Despite the fact that many people use abbreviations in texts and emails, they are not so forgiving when they see sloppy or grammatically incorrect text on a professional website. If consumers can’t trust a brand to get their messaging right, how can they trust them to get their product right?
Beyond basic grammar and spelling, your content needs to communicate your message and give the reader something of value. The motto of any good content is: inform, inspire, entertain. You don’t have to nail each of these elements in every blog post, but try to include at least one per post. If you’re teaching your reader something, motivating them to a better life (or even a better day), or simply providing a good laugh (that will usually get you some substantial social shares), you’ve given them something of value.
Taking the time to ensure your site is easy to navigate and provides something of value gives your viewer a much more meaningful and useful experience. And, most importantly, gives them a reason to return.