You have probably heard of the term “user experience” and you know that it should be good. What exactly does this term encompass, though? Is it something you should worry about when it comes to your website? We will answer these questions in our article, and we will give you several useful tips on how you can improve the user experience on your website. As you will see, this is something you should not ignore.
What is user experience and is it important?
The term “user experience” is used to describe the level of satisfaction of the visitors of a given website as a result of their interaction with the site. This includes how easy it is to use the site, how efficient the site is in terms of structure, and how pleasing the overall interaction with it is for its visitors. There are many ways to describe what makes user experience good. In essence, it includes fast and error-free browsing, intuitive navigation, and useful, high-quality content.
You should always strive to improve the user experience on your website. Here are a few reasons why this is something important:
- Helps you to build a good brand reputation. If your website performs well and is easy to use, people will associate their good experience with your brand name.
- Reduces the bounce rate of your website. A smooth flow on the site means that less people will leave without interacting with your content.
- Increases the chance to get new orders from customers. If people are happy with your website, they will be more inclined to order.
- Improves your search engine optimization. User experience is officially a ranking factor in Google search engine results.
- Increases the loyalty of your visitors/customers. Loyal users will prefer to visit a well-working website rather than a competitor's website that does not provide the same level of smooth user experience.
- Minimizes redesign costs. If people are happy with your website, you will not have to change it much over time, so you will save time and money. Of course, this does not include adding new content or functions.
- Decreases the need for customer support. People will contact you less via phone/chat/emails if they enjoy browsing your website without encountering problems or errors.
- Keeps your website competitive. Your competition never sleeps. You should always check the level of user experience on your website, and enhance it, if necessary. This way, you will stay ahead of your competitors.
Can you measure user experience?
User experience is subjective, but there are ways to check how satisfied people are with your website. The best way to do that is to ask them directly. After all, they are the ones who use the website, so they can tell you what they like and what they believe can or should be improved. There are different ways to do that.
If clients have accounts, you can add a section/page/form to their account, asking them to give you feedback. If you prefer that all visitors have the opportunity to share their experience, you can add a form or a discrete one-time pop-up on the site. You can also ask for feedback on social media, support tickets or some other way. Do not forget to mention that you ask people what they think about their experience on your website, and not about a service/product they have ordered from you.
Another approach is to use analytics software that tracks the interaction of visitors with each page of your website. Such software can help you to see the general flow of each visitor through the pages, as well as specific actions on each page. Depending on the software that you use, you may also have the option to generate a heatmap that will show you the most popular parts of each page. Based on the reports, you can see if and what should be improved in terms of content, links, order flow, or anything else that can improve the overall user experience on your website.
13 tips to improve the user experience
Here are a few things you can do/add to improve the user experience on your website. Some things may already be present on the site, or you may think of something we have not mentioned below. Consider your audience and focus on the things it will appreciate the most.
1. Keep it simple
Adding too much content or too many visual elements will make browsing your website overwhelming. Keep everything simple and organized. Add more white space and use bullets to make sure that your content is easy to read and comprehend.
2. Speed up your website
If you use WordPress, check out our guide how to optimize your website:
3. Focus on good written content
There are lots of websites out there, so one of the best ways to be ahead of your competitors is to add good content on your site. People appreciate well-written, informative articles. Using such content will contribute to the good impression they will have of your website. If you add low-quality content just for the sake of it, people will likely not return to the site, no matter how good it may look in terms of design.
4. Use good visual content
Images and/or videos make it easier for visitors to comprehend information. A page with carefully selected images looks much better than a wall of text. It also looks far more organized. Any visual content you use should be related to the text on the page. Refrain from using stock images that do not contribute to the content in any way.
5. Stick to conventions
While trying new things sometimes pays off, most visitors are used to certain conventions. Your logo should be on top of the page and there should be a Contact link in the footer – these are just a couple of examples of things people are very used to. Unless it is necessary for some reason, you should not change them as any changes are likely to confuse the site visitors.
6. Secure your website
Using an SSL certificate is a must these days. Nonetheless, many website owners still ignore this service, so web browsers mark their websites as not secure. If you add an SSL certificate to your site, the connection to it will be encrypted. Web browsers will display a padlock next to the web address in the URL bar, and your visitors will feel assured that their information is protected. You can also add a security seal on the site to certify that your website is secure.
7. Make it responsive
Most of the Internet traffic these days is generated from mobile devices. Make sure that your website looks good on any device. Use a responsive theme. If the website is not mobile friendly, visitors are likely to leave. It is difficult to navigate a desktop website on a mobile device – people will have to scroll in all directions and zoom in and out all the time to read the content they want.
8. Add a search box
It is important for visitors to be able to find content easily. Adding a search box on the site will greatly improve the overall user experience. Even if you have very good navigation, sometimes it is easier just to search for a specific term and then browse only the results.
9. Add social media buttons / sharing option
If anybody wants to share content from your website, the easiest way to do that is to have sharing buttons on your site. This way, visitors won’t have to copy the link from the browser and then open a different application to send it.
10. Minimize the use of pop-ups
There are few things as annoying as large pop-ups that appear right when you want to read a paragraph or click a link. This is valid especially for mobile devices where the whole screen may be covered, and navigation is not as easy as the one on a desktop machine. Sometimes pop-ups are required – to ask visitors to subscribe to a newsletter or to show potential customers a new product they have not seen yet, for example. Make sure that such pop-ups do not appear in an intrusive way. They should be small, and their content should be concise. It should be easy to close them, and they should not appear when a page is reloaded.
11. Ask for minimal information
If you have any form on the website that visitors should fill in, you should ask for as little information as possible, if it is sufficient for the task. This is valid for order forms, petitions, subscription forms, etc. If a visitor wants to sign up for a newsletter, for example, you need only an email address and possibly a name. You won’t need an actual address or anything like that. Asking for information you don’t really need will likely discourage people from filling the form. Needless to say, asking visitors to fill in the same information more than once or splitting a form into two or more pages are things you should avoid.
12. Use concise navigation
This includes menus, links, and buttons. If you have too many navigation elements, browsing your website will be confusing and frustrating for the visitors. Group similar elements together, use short menu titles and no more than a few menu items, including second-level ones. Of course, sometimes you will need more menu items, but you should still try to keep them as few as possible without compromising how easily people can find the items they need. Keep CTA buttons simple as well, without using too large or flashy elements.
13. Make your website accessible
People will definitely appreciate it if your website is accessible. In other words, you should make sure that people with disabilities and impairments can access your content easily. While it may be difficult to fully do that, there are steps you can take to make the content accessible for everybody. Use high-contrast colors, alt-text for images, and headings for the different sections of your content so that visually impaired people can use screen readers to browse the content. Add captions to videos if you have such content.
Did your changes work?
After any major update that aims at improving the user experience on your website, you can check again how the site performs in terms of customer satisfaction. Add a short survey to find out if visitors/customers like the changes. If you use analytics software, generate new heatmaps and check the site/page reports after a certain period. You can then compare the results with the old data to see if the updates were successful and if people are more engaged.
User experience is very important. It shows how good your website is in terms of performance, navigation, and ease of use. Although user experience is subjective, there are ways to determine whether your visitors are happy – user flow charts, heatmaps, and most of all – direct feedback. Based on your findings, you should improve your website to provide better browsing experience for the visitors – enhanced performance, better content, or adaptive design, for example. User experience is a ranking factor in search engine results, so you should do as much as possible to improve it.