Does Your Business Website Have Great UX? Understanding User Experience
What is User Experience (UX), and why does it matter whether your website has a good one? This design concept is about far more than just visuals or content. It’s the confluence of all the elements on-page and behind the scenes that add up to the total functionality of a site. When a web visitor has an experience filled with friction and frustration, your UX needs some work. As the folks at Moz point out, Google and other search engines are already taking User Experience into account in their search ranking algorithms. Whether people are bouncing off your site because it hurts their eyes to look at, your content is useless, or the page load time is driving them nuts, at the end of the day a lack of attention to UX is hurting your web presence. Here are some common mistakes you’ll want to be sure to avoid.
Seek and Not Find
Users should never have to navigate through a complex or poorly labeled site to find the information they need. Keep your top tier navigation menu short (five options is about the max). Today’s users typically know they can click the logo at the top of your site to access the home page, so save your top level menu for essentials other than “home”. You can add more pages as drop downs but don’t go crazy there either. Also avoid using page designs that force users to click on tab after tab within a single page to reveal all the content.
If there are hyperlinks to click on, make sure they come with a clear description so users know where they are being directed. That goes double for files like PDFs that will automatically download to their device. When you have lovely images to click for users to travel deeper into the site, be sure they are also labelled with text. That’s not just good SEO, it’s functional. For example, even if an image is linking to a portfolio piece, it should state what the user can expect to learn (e.g., Brickyard Museum Restoration Project or “Master Brake Center Case Study”). Don’t make users hover over an image to find out what it is for. They may miss that subtle cue.
Forms Done Wrong
Long forms can help you collect necessary information for your lead generation initiative. But a poor design can hurt more than it helps. Forms that ask for a lot of information that seems extraneous to the user will annoy them (especially if you make those fields mandatory). Never use a template that erases all information if an incomplete form is submitted—or one with the reset button too close to the submit button. You won’t get a second chance to capture leads from ticked off prospects. If you are asking for lots of info, give a reason. For example, a site providing vehicle wraps might ask for the make and model of a visitor’s vehicle in addition to contact info so that they can provide an accurate quote.
Sure, special effects are…special. But they can also add a lot of time to simple actions. Users have little tolerance for buffering—even when the fault is with their internet carrier and not with your website. But when you make them sit through a cute animation just to get to the content they are interested in? They know exactly who to blame. And it’s you. Using sliders, fade ins, and other effects is fine, but keep them limited to areas where it adds value (such as drawing attention to critical information) rather than just because it looks cool. For mobile, stick with interaction methods that users know well, like tapping and swiping.
Five Good UX Principles
Focus on designing your website with your typical user in mind—not your typical technology buff.
1. Navigation should be clear and easy to follow and the layout should direct the eye to important information.
2. Images should be relevant to the page topic and design elements and colors should not overshadow content.
3. Content should be written at an appropriate level and geared toward providing the information your audience needs.
4. Page load times should be kept to a minimum (image file sizes, scripting, and other behind the scenes factors can have a real impact here).
5. Users should be able to get to what they are looking for with a minimum number of actions.
Most important, you should get feedback from trusted experts and actual end users so that you can improve your UX. At the end of the day, it’s about delivering what your customers want.
Looking for a professional assessment of the UX on your website? Contact Web Revelation today for a consultation.