Everyone knows the importance of a great looking website -- if they didn't, I wouldn't have a job. Our websites are usually what is giving our clients the first impression of our business -- and it's why everyone stresses about the layout, design, colors, and graphics on their website. But, not many people think about the user experience on their website.
How to improve user experience on your website:
User experience is defined as the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use. When we simplify the definition of user experience, it comes down to about how your website makes the audience feel, and how they perceive your business.
Treat your website like your home
Your website is like the virtual home for your business -- and it should be treated that way. When you have friends coming over for dinner, how do you prepare? You clean up the kitchen, clean off the couch so they can have a comfortable seat, and you prepare a nice meal. When your friends arrive, you open the door for them, take their jackets and purses, and welcome them into your home.
You should extend these same courtesies to your website visitors.
On average, users only take six seconds to decide whether or not to stay on your website. In that six seconds, user experience is a factor in that decision -- is the content valuable, is it easy to use, how does it make them feel?
The important thing to remember when it comes to user experience is that you can't guarantee the results. For example, let's look at user experience in offline situations:
- Assembling a desk you bought from IKEA
- Using a Kitchen-Aid mixer to bake cookies
- Buying a car
When you look at these three scenarios, some may seem easier or harder to you than what they seem to me, to your best friend, or to your spouse. Our experiences in each scenario would be different based on our skills, personalities and experiences.
SIX DESIGN CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE
We can't guarantee that our websites will make each person feel the exact same way, but that doesn't mean we can't still build our websites with specific goals in mind. There are six design changes you can make to help improve the user experience.
1. Optimize site speed -- The speed of your site is a huge factor in user experience. People are impatient, and will exit out quickly if your site is just too slow for them. You wouldn't make your friends wait at your front door for 20 minutes, or set dinner in front of them and make them wait to eat for half an hour, so make sure your website loads quickly!
If you're on Wordpress, there are plenty of plug-ins you can use to help optimize speed -- look for image compression or cache plug-ins; WP Rocket is also great. If you're on Squarespace, make sure you aren't uploading huge image files.
2. Be mobile-friendly -- More and more users are using their phones and tablets to read things online. If your site isn't mobile-friendly, you are going to lose visitors very quickly! Even though many templates are mobile-friendly, you should still check to see what your site looks like on a phone or tablet. Elements within your site may collapse in a weird order, or view larger or smaller than you expected.
3. Embrace the white space -- You don't want your audience to enter your site and feel overwhelmed or confused. Utilizing white space can prevent this from happening! Organize content in a way that makes the most sense, and still communicates effectively. Embracing white space doesn't mean you have to have a plain, boring website. Again, think of it like a home -- you don't want to be hoarder, but you don't have to have bare walls, either!
4. Break up content -- This goes along with #3, as you don't want to overwhelm your audience. You don't want to your website to read like a textbook, with large paragraphs just filling the pages. Break up your text by using different header sizes (as you can see I'm using in this post), bullet points, graphics or even just simple line dividers. Breaking up your content will help the readers digest it easier and faster!
5. Be clear and concise -- Remember how I mentioned assembling a desk from IKEA up above? Don't make your website like IKEA desk assembly instructions. Keep things concise, and use clear call-to-actions that are big and colorful! The messaging you use on your website will affect how people perceive your brand, so it's important to write in your personality + tone!
These are small changes you can make that will have a big impact on your website. This is another aspect of your brand that you can enhance for the benefit of your audience!
>> Need a professional to look at your site? Get a website audit!