Would you return to a store when you’ve had a bad experience? Probably not. And the same goes for websites. 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience. That’s why website designers, developers, and marketers often discuss a website’s “user experience” or UX. It’s pretty important, so let’s dive deeper into UX.
What is user experience?
User experience has a wide range of definitions, including:
- “All aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” – Nielsen-Norman Group.
- The user experience should not be confused with the user interface (UI). UserTesting.com defines the user interface as “the series of screens, pages, and visual elements—like buttons and icons—that you use to interact with a device.”
What does user experience include?
According to Semantic Studios, there are seven key factors to a solid user experience. This diagram is known as the User Experience Honeycomb. This theory and diagram state that a website or piece of information online must be:
What each factor entails
Though the key factors sound great, they may be a little vague. Let’s define them some more:
- Useful: Does your website content and design fulfill a need? Do your customers find the information on your website to be useful?
- Usable: In short, is your website simple to use? Is it intuitive? Does it load quickly?
- Desirable: Does your website design appeal to your audience? Is it enticing to interact with? Does it grab a user’s attention?
- Findable: Can users find the information they need easily? Can your website be found quickly on the Internet?
- Accessible: Is your website accessible by all? Does it accommodate users with disabilities?
- Credible: Is the information on your website truthful? Will users believe what they find on your website? It has been reported that judgments on website credibility are 75% based on a website’s overall aesthetics.
- Valuable: With all of these factors combined, does your website content, design, and functionality provide value for users?
Everything on your website, from the domain name, marketing copy, page speed and call-to-actions contributes to a user’s overall experience with your brand.
3 reasons why you should care about your website’s user experience (UX)
Providing website visitors with a thorough and pleasant experience is of the utmost importance. Your brand reputation, customer loyalty, and sales are on the line if you fail to prioritize your website’s UX.
1. Brand reputation
When you visit a site that’s difficult to use or looks unappealing, your opinion of the brand probably won’t be positive. And you’re not the only one who thinks like this. Studies have shown that first impressions are 94% design-related. Plus, almost 60% of users say they will not recommend a business that has a badly designed mobile site.
As you can see, the overall UX of your site can have a lasting effect on your brand’s online reputation. That’s why it’s always in your brand’s best interest to provide a stellar experience for users visiting your website.
2. Customer loyalty
When your site looks unappealing and is difficult to use, your customers will start looking for other, better sites. In fact, 79% of people do this. And even if your website looks good on laptops, if your mobile site isn’t great, 52% of users will be less likely to engage with your company.
So if your brand is struggling to retain and generate repeat customers, consider improving the UX of your website.
If your business is using a website to drive online sales, user experience needs to be your top priority. Why? Because a user’s experience with your website has a large effect on their decision to buy.
60% of users who do not make a purchase cite dissatisfaction, a lack of information, a slow connection, or a small screen as their reasons for not buying. And slow-loading websites cost retailers $2.6 billion in lost sales each year.
Take a look at the conversion rate for your website. Is it where you’d like it to be? If not, the reason could be a failed website design or UX.
Top 5 tips for improving your website’s user experience
Now that you understand why user experience is a vital component of website design, it’s time to put your knowledge to work. Use these tips to improve your website’s user experience.
1. User testing is imperative
The best way to determine whether or not your website meets the seven facets of user experience is through user testing. While some user tests require a full team, an expansive budget, and controlled facilities, numerous tools are available online to deliver the results you need.
UserTest.io is a high-performing and affordable tool for receiving feedback on your website. The tool asks users questions about the website design, content, functionality, and other factors and directly delivers the results. In addition to saving time, money, and effort, you also receive in-depth insights into your audience’s website preferences and activity.
2. Ask customers how you can improve
It never hurts to ask, right? After purchase, send your customers a follow-up email asking about their ability to navigate and interact with your website. Be sure to ask specific questions rather than vague, open-ended questions, since those could lead to undesirable responses.
In addition, you can also ask customers about their experience while they’re on your site. Although pop-ups tend to be a widely used tactic for these surveys, in-website chat boxes are the most appealing as they do not intrude on the user’s activity on your site.
3. Review your site flow
Look at the structure of your site, also known as a sitemap. Is it easy for website visitors to find information in a logical manner? Remember, one of the key factors of proper UX is that users need to be able to easily find the information they want on your site.
If it takes several illogical steps to access pertinent information, it’s time to rethink the structure and flow of your site. When restructuring your website, rely on a user testing tool to help you understand what site path is considered simple for your audience.
4. Use headings to your advantage
On top of a sensible site structure, properly implemented headings can also aid a visitor in locating the information they need. Your headings should be:
Headings not only introduce a reader to a particular topic, but they also point visitors in the direction of the information and content they need.
5. Have an authentic website design
Returning to Nielsen-Norman Group’s definition of user experience, your website is part of a potential customer’s overall experience with your brand. Meaning: if your website has a stale or unappealing appearance, users will notice.
Whether you’re using outdated website design trends or doing too much at once, it will detract from the complete brand experience. If your company has a brand standards guide, be sure your website design follows those guidelines!
Content and the user experience: What you need to know
Contrary to what many strategists think, user experience and content are not two separate things. Horrible 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 your blog posts (though those need to be easy to read too). We’re talking about anything that conveys your message to the user. Think product descriptions, infographics, images, videos, the “About” page, shopping cart, and so on.
How can I use content to enhance user experience?
Eye-catching, high-quality visuals contribute to a user’s experience when browsing your website. Nowadays, sites and applications know how to quickly grab people’s attention. To compete, it’s good to add accompanying images to your text-heavy pages. What’s more, 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 and their embedded call-to-action buttons into visual content
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.
If you need more examples of what not to do, we recommend checking out “19 Examples of Bad Website Design in 2022”.
“Card” style layout
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. They also work well with a 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 causes faster eye fatigue, choose very dark gray (#0D0D0D).
- While there isn’t a huge difference in readability between a 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 take the time to write clear and engaging product (or service) descriptions. If you’re not a stellar writer, hiring a professional copywriter is worthwhile.
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.
Tip: Eat24, an online food delivery service, stands out for its short copy – clever, descriptive, and keeps the viewer on the page.
Lastly (and also perhaps most obviously), you should write quality content. Although 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.
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.
With these UX definitions and tips in mind, how will you improve your website’s user experience? Let us know by commenting below.