Like an old building with a new addition, improving your user experience (uX) Can Streamline Your Website and bring it into the modern age
If you haven't been improving your user experience (UX) recently, it could be dragging down your conversion rate.
I've often talked about how important SEO is - and all of that remains true. After all, if nobody's visiting your website, then it doesn't matter how good the rest of the site is. However, SEO isn't the only part of your website that matters.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) vS User Experience (UX)
Some people believe that there's an ideal length for everything you read. For example, somewhere above 1500 words is often considered good for blog posts, because that's how long the top-ranking results returned tend to be. Now, there's some truth to this, but it doesn't paint the whole picture.
If you just write 1500 words on a subject without doing more than breaking it into paragraphs, you're not offering a good UX. People tend to prefer material that's easy to scan - that's why I use headings to break each post into sections you can easily glance through and reference as needed.
The good news here is that search engines like Google are giving more value to UX in their rankings, although it will never be more important than your content. In short, content is what brings people to your website in the first place, but UX is part of what convinces them to stay.
The four elements of good UX
An accessible website is one that users can easily access from any device they use to visit your site (desktops, smart phones, tablets, and perhaps technology like virtual reality devices in the next few years).
However, it's not just about coding a website so any device can display it - you have to think about the way content factors into it, too.
For example, most videos are data-heavy and take some time to load. A full-motion background on your website might look really cool, but if it slows the loading of the page, it's probably going to hurt more than it helps. An image or two is fine - important, even - but you should try to avoid anything that makes your website slower to new visitors impacting their experience on the site.
Amazon.com is a company that obviously has eCommerce down; they estimate that for every additional second it takes their pages to load they lose $1.6 billion (yes, billion with a "b"!) per year. While images are only part of the overall story when it comes to speeding up a website's load time, it is a BIG part of the story which should always be on your mind when you create a new page or post for your site.
Different people care about different things - and if you want to maximize your conversion rate, your website needs to be valuable to as many people as possible. Of course, value can come in many different forms, but most visitors will ultimately focus on one or more of the following considerations:
- Cost: People's incomes often determine how much they're willing to spend. It doesn't really matter how good your product is if a visitor doesn't think they can afford it, so if people with this focus are in your audience, you should try to show that the value they'll get from your product or service is better than spending their money on something else. Testimonials from clients mentioning the value they have received from your services or product are a great way to show this. If possible, a table comparing your product to other similar products from a competitor is also a great tool.
- Quality: That said, quality is an important consideration across the entire spectrum. If something is solid and reliable, most visitors will see it as more valuable than the alternatives. This is another opportunity to leverage feedback from happy clients who have positive remarks about the quality of what you are selling. A solid guarantee is also a great value-add here. I am more likely to buy a widget that has a lifetime guarantee with a few lines about what is included or excluded from the guarantee as compared to the widget with the 90-day limited-lifetime guarantee that includes a description that would take three attorneys a week to decipher.
- Appearance: This is most relevant for design-related products, but few people actually want an ugly item (unless it's for an ugly sweater party, anyway). Products that look attractive are often perceived as more valuable than others, even if they're not as high in quality. Ideally, of course, you'll be able to do well in both categories. A clean and simple image (or images) of your product that loads quickly is always great way to present your product to your visitor. Go to any major eCommerce (i.e. Amazon.com, Wayfair.com, Williams-Sonoma.com) site and you will see what I mean with a simple clean display.
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3) Ease of use
This is something that's almost always forgotten when people are focused on SEO - how people will actually access the content. Ease of use covers things like the size and shape of buttons, the proximity of links, and how easily users can navigate through the site when they actually want to do so. If they can't use the site, then your SEO is functionally worthless - whereas a site they can smoothly move through will definitely improve your conversion rate.
I like to recommend that usability testing is performed prior to the launch of a new website. Usability testing can be a very involved process that involves hiring testers, monitoring the testers while testing the site, and creating a remediation plan based on the results, followed by another round of testing.
Usability testing can also be very simple for a small site with a limited budget. Create a list of 5 to 10 different actions you would like visitors to potentially take while on your site (i.e. sign up for a newsletter, buy my widget, open our contact page, complete a form, etc...).
Find a friend or family member who has half an hour to help you out. Have them run through the scenarios on your new site and provide feedback either verbally or in writing (if you are having a challenge finding a test subject, I have found that offering free food is a great way to help increase your volunteer pool). If you can sit with your tester(s) while testing, it's always a plus (nothing beats firsthand feedback) but not absolutely required.
Collect the feedback and make updates if the changes are doable and make sense. After you have completed and launched your site study your website's analytics to see how long visitors are staying on your site and how many pages they are visiting to find other opportunities to improve the ease of use for your site.
You can have the cleanest, fastest, most user-friendly website on the internet, but if you don't tell visitors what you want them to do with a Call-To-Action (CTA) then you should take your website budget and throw a pizza party; it will be more productive, and you will get fed.
- CTAs are usually simple messages either on or adjacent to a link or button that provides a suggestion for an action you want a visitor to take. As an example, you can see on the sidebar we have the very simple CTA "Sign Up" for visitors to subscribe to our blog. A simple message is great for the top of your sales funnel where you are just trying to create an email list of potential leads.
- CTAs can also be more complicated, with more text and an image such as "Download our eBook" with a brief description and button for the visitor to click on. The more complicated CTA is better for further down your sales funnel where you are providing a solution-based offering.
- Regardless of simple or complicated, your CTA should have a color that pulls the visitor's eye, making it stand out from the color scheme of your site. I find the best way to determine if a CTA is easy to find is to squint your eyes while looking at your website. If your CTA stands out, then Mission Accomplished.
Now, making a quality UX can be tricky, but you're not alone in wanting to do it. Check out Google Design on a regular basis for case studies, guidelines, and useful tools that can help your company.
If you would like a second opinion on your site, we are always happy to take a look and give some feedback (free of charge). Just complete our contact form and let us know you would like an assessment.