If a user can’t figure out how to use your website, they’re not going to buy your product or book your service. It’s pretty much as simple as that. When we talk to clients about their current sites, one of the first questions we’ll ask when working with them is what isn’t working now? What do people consistently ask questions about or have problems figuring out on your site? That’s your first sign that you have UX issues on your site. But what can you do to fix it?
The first rule of thumb with User Experience design is to keep it simple and make it easy. Keep in mind that while your target market may be millennials, not all millennials are tech savvy. If you’re trying to attract a senior crowd, some may be more website literate than you give them credit for but others won’t be. At the end of the day, you need to look at your website and figure out if any user – no matter their age, experience, and any visual impairments – will be able to figure out how to use your site.
Sure, it can feel overwhelming to try and target everyone’s capabilities when it comes to your website design, but there are a few ways you can improve your user experience right now.
1. Focus on Substance not Flash
Whether you built your website in-house or you worked with a company to create a beautiful design, your website needs to be focused on increasing conversions, not WOWING every visitor. If you’ve got animations flying but they don’t direct your attention to something specific or you have gorgeous images and overall look but it’s hard to figure out what you do, there’s an issue. Every design element on your site, all the copy, and even the technology powering it should be chosen with intention. They should all work together to lead the user through your story, your message, and to the action you want them to take. Whether that’s picking up the phone to talk to one of your staff or buy right there, make sure the path is clear.
2. Make Calls to Action Easy to See
Speaking of that action you want your user to take, you want them to be easy to see and clear. Use a contrasting color, larger text, attractive button, or background image to make it clear that’s what you want them to do. Direct them visually to that spot, then don’t be afraid to literally tell them to Buy Now, Call Today, or Fill Out This Form. Communication and intention on your site is vital, especially since the average browser may only give you a few seconds of their day. Make it clear and keep it consistent throughout your site. That way if they navigate from page to page, they’ll understand what they’re supposed to do, no matter what page they’re on.
This extends beyond the main call to action to any hyperlinks in your website, too. You should have internal links throughout your site to lead them to relevant services, offers, or information about your company. Those links should be clearly visible compared to the text around them and easy to see that they’re a link. Whether you choose a specific color, to underline the link, or both, make it easy to see that they can click that.
3. Be Consistent
Which leads us to our next tip – make sure your design is consistent throughout your site. While arguments can be made for special product landing pages, your main goal with wooing your browsers is to not create any confusion. If they go through multiple pages on your website and no two pages feel or look remotely similar, your overall presentation begins to feel disjointed and causes that confusion you were trying to avoid. Consistency in your design reassures your user that they’re still on your site and helps them dig deeper more easily. Again, focus on preventing road blocks so that you’re not scaring a prospect away.
4. Utilize your 404 Error Page
Speaking of not throwing up road blocks, a 404 is pretty much the worst thing a user can stumble across while navigating your site. Whether you changed a page’s URL and forgot to redirect the page (read more about 301 redirects in our SEO tips article) or someone is linking to an old page you no longer have, you really don’t want your users to just get a Page Not Found. While there are plenty of funny examples of 404 pages out there, the most important thing to do is direct them somewhere. Include your sitemap (a listing of links to all your site’s main pages) on the 404 page and let them easily figure out what they were looking for. Adding a search box is another great way to give your users the ability to find what they were looking for, not just get frustrated and close your tab.
5. Focus on Mobile
We’ll probably talk about this until phones no longer exist and we’re just looking at websites on our Google contacts (or whatever the next step is). But your website has to look good on a phone, plain and simple. And it can’t just look good, it needs to be clear and easy to navigate and provide all the same functionality that exists on a desktop. While yes, a phone experience is different than a computer experience, your user has to feel comfortable making a purchase or taking that next step no matter what device they’re using. And if you’re the type of company that someone will research a couple of times before using, it’s likely they’ll look at you a few times on their different devices. Look at your site on a phone, tablet, and laptop, too. If you first visited on a desktop then went to your site on the phone, can you figure out how to do all the same functions? While blocks may move and design may shift, the overall direction and feeling should remain the same.