Your website is the biggest marketing and sales tool in your arsenal, but many companies treat it as an afterthought. When you put content, design, and structure at the forefront of your website, you encourage potential customers to press deeper into your website. “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, & the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse,” says website creator Dain Miller, Founder of Dain Miller Consulting. Simply put, UX is everything.
In today’s digital age, customers know that they can turn elsewhere with the click of a button, and that means they will search elsewhere if your website isn’t delivering what they want in a concise and creative manner.
If your website is taking too long to load or is too difficult to navigate, it won’t take long before they hit the back button and try somewhere else. This doesn’t just hurt your bounce rates, it also has a toll on your orders, SEO ranking, and customer satisfaction.
Some might think that they need to overhaul their whole website and add a bunch of bells and whistles to achieve a better conversion rate, but that may not be the case, says Scott Belsky, Chief Product Officer of Creative Cloud. “Rule of thumb for UX: More options, more problems.” Resist the urge to start from scratch and instead follow these steps to make your website more enjoyable for your customers.
Understand What Is Expected
If you want to improve your website, you need to know exactly what users expect when they visit it. “There are many elements that users consider,” says Michael Van, CEO at Furnishr, “but speed, navigation, design, and responsiveness are the main ones you need to stay on top of.”
Speed refers to the amount of time your website takes to load. This isn’t at all like it used to be back when the web was just starting out, but that doesn’t mean it’s extinct. “Even if the problem is on the customer’s end, they will quickly grow frustrated and leave your site if it doesn’t load,” name added. In fact, almost half of web users only allow a website three seconds before they decide to try elsewhere. A slow website will certainly impact your conversion rate.
Navigation is another hugely important aspect of your website that you need to consider when optimizing your site. “Make sure that your pages are clear and easy to navigate,” says Trey Ferro, CEO at Spot Pet Insurance. “The easier it is to move through your website, the better your conversion rate will be.” Ideally, customers should be able to find what they want within seconds of your page loading.
People want a website to look good, too. “Your website should be beautifully designed,” Trey Ferro added. “More than anything, you don’t want your website to look cheap.” A website with ugly images or wonky fonts will lose you visitors and lead to a bad reputation that will be hard to shake.
Lastly, your website needs to be responsive. This goes hand in hand with speed. Your website needs to be responsive and mobile-ready. When something is clicked on a phone screen, your website better be quick to respond.
You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know where to start. “One of the best ways that you can diagnose where your website is working and where it isn’t is by using a heat map,” says Amanda E. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer at Nailboo. “Heatmaps and scroll maps help you see where visitors are spending the most time.”
Heatmaps (and scroll maps) function as visual tools that tell you the story of your website. They hold tons of valuable information about the user experience and what areas need work. Using hot or cold colors, these maps show where your visitors are getting stuck on your website and where they are moving through.
“From here, structure your website to better align with your customer’s journey,” says Karl Hughes, CEO at Draft.Dev. “These tools provide valuable insight that can be used when starting your optimization process. If there is a cool spot on your site, consider new ways of increasing clicks and decreasing scroll time.”
Navigate Your Navigation
We know that navigation is a huge part of your website’s user experience, so how can you fix it to improve your conversion rate? “Everything that your customer needs should be readily available on the homepage without scrolling,” says Kevin Callahan, Co-founder & CEO at Flatline Van Co.. “We know that people are impatient. If you bury a button at the bottom of your webpage, people are not going to scroll to find it.”
An improved navigation system will have a big impact on your website’s conversion rate. Even simple changes will help out. Once you use a heatmap to see what people are missing, you can use the information to make a change. “If your menu is being passed over, it might mean that it is not as visible as you may have thought,” says Haim Medine, Creative Director at Mark Henry Jewelry.
“With the information in hand, you can figure out a way to improve your menu’s interface and increase engagement. Studying people’s navigation habits will help you navigate the changes you need to make.”
Don’t Go Crazy
When people visit a website, they instantly form a gut feeling. In fact, it only takes about 50 milliseconds before someone decides whether or not they want to stick around. “It is clear that a website with low visual complexity is more appealing to users,” comments William Schumacher, Founder, and CEO of Uprising Food. “This means that your website should be simple and feel familiar to users. Save the innovation for your product.”
People have been trained to understand how certain websites should look. Ecommerce websites specifically tend to have a visual cart at the top of the screen that shows users what they are planning on buying. “If you stray away from something that we have all grown accustomed to, it is going to confuse your visitors. This will make it harder to convert and hurt your bottom line.” When it comes to design, stick to what’s familiar.
Keep It Short And Simple
Stray away from lots of images, they slow download times. Don’t fill your site with tons of text either. Make everything as simple and smooth as possible to encourage visitors to look around. “Be brief,” says Russell Lieberman, Founder, and CEO at Altan Insights. “It is better to remove elements than to add them. Say more with as few words as possible.”
Short and simple copy with a well-matched image on a creative background design is all it really takes to stand out and get your message across. Use visual cues like play buttons and arrows to encourage interaction. “Don’t risk simplicity for the sake of clarity, though,” Russel Lieberman added. “Streamline and make sure the site is user-friendly above all.”
Color is another huge factor for UX. Specifically, white space. “Whitespace is any empty space on your site,” says Rusell Lieberman. “It can be used to draw people’s attention to something, highlight a message, and organize your content. You can do all of it simply by making use of white space.” Make sure to contrast your lighter colors with darker ones and aim for a balance between them.
If you follow all of these tips, your website UX will improve and help drive conversions. But remember that it never ends. You need to continually manage and update your site to keep up with the times and keep visitors engaged and converting. There is always going to be room for improvement.
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