Ever visited a website only to be turned off by something?
Anything— bad design, poor content structure, poor readability, six different colors that don’t go together, poor site navigation, you name it.
Chances are, you left immediately.
You don’t want that to happen to your website visitors, right?
Then you need to ameliorate your user experience (UX).
The difference between a website that sucks and one that rocks is the user experience design. If a website sucks, you know the conversion rate will be disappointing, to put it mildly.
But if your website rocks?
Your conversion shoots through the roof and you feel like a royalty.
What is User Experience?
To begin with, UX is quite broad.
There are different types of user experiences based on product type, service type, industry and field of study and so on.
As a result, there have been several formal definitions of User Experience.
However, this article will focus on digital user experience. But even at that, digital UX is also sub-categorized into a different areas— websites, applications, intranets, software— which are all thick on their own.
So, out of that, we will essentially zero in on”website user experience.”
That said, let look at what UX means to the website owner…
User Experience is the cumulative experience of a user when interacting with or using a website. It’s how easy or pleasing visitors find your website.
And there are many factors that influence the UX of a website. Here are some as put together by Smashing Magazine:
Why is user experience important?
Well, if a website sucks, people will just stay away from it. The abandonment rate may go through the roof, unfortunately. That’s obvious.
Difference Between UX and UI
In the UX community, there’s been this interminable debate over UX and UI. And since we’re looking at UX at the moment, it’ll make sense to fix this.
User Experience focuses on things that might positively or negatively affect a person’s experience using a website. This includes basic things like usability, fast load times etc.
User Interface (UI) on the other hand focuses basically on the front-end of your website. That includes the layout, visual design, pages, navigation and every other thing users see when visiting your website.
This simple drawing should help you better understand the difference between UX and UI.
Both UX and UI are critical to a product and work together closely. In fact, the first step to a great user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer by optimizing the UI perfectly well.
A good analogy of the difference/relationship between UX and UI is this:
In a hotel, the “UI” can be seen as the interior design of all places clients are allowed to set their foot, plus the manners and dresses of the staff members they’ll deal with during their stay.
UX is the feelings and experiences clients get while interacting with the UI. It’s that simple.
The Value of User Experience
UX centers around ensuring that users find value in your offering. Peter Morville shows this through his User Experience Honeycomb.
He suggested that to create great user experience that offers value, elements must be:
- Useful: Your information (content) must be helpful and should meet visitors need
- Usable: Site must be simple to use and easy to access
- Desirable: Images and other design elements should be used to excite emotion and appreciation
- Findable: Customers should be able to find and navigate content
- Accessible: Content must be accessible to users with disabilities
- Credible: Your information and message must be trustworthy and believable.
User Experience Design
User Experience Design (UXD or UED) is one of the major areas of UX. It’s the process of making better the overall experience and satisfaction of users, by improving the usability, accessibility and visuals of a website.
UXD is significant to every usable thing we build— be it a business website, an application, a product, SaaS & PaaS services, and every other thing people use.
It’s pretty easy to think of design as merely the colorful part of a website. But it’s more than that.
Design encompasses everything you see— the words, the pictures, the product images, and even the unused spaces. User experience design is how you take all these stuff, put them together and make them work collectively in a way that’s visually pleasing and beneficial to the user.
This determines the overall feeling a user will get from interacting with your website.
UXD Hacks for Increasing Your Website Conversion
Here are 10 user experience design hacks you can use to create an awesome experience for your website visitors, kick ass with your conversion rate and turn ordinary visitors into purchasing customers.
1. Remove Every Broken Links
If you run a website, chances are visitors are likely to see 404 errors (caused by broken links).
404 errors frustrate users, impede the action they wanted to take and result in bad UX. But, what is even worse is that these errors can kill conversion rates as fast as poorly optimized landing pages can.
Dead links act as roadblocks to your conversion. When a user reaches a 404 page, they feel helpless. They can’t do what they wanted to do. And so the only option is to leave and probably go to a competitor’s site to buy.
As for you, you lose visitors and potential customers. This dampens UX and marks your website as unhelpful, which means it isn’t helping people find what they wanted.
So, what can you do to stop visitors from leaving your site when they reach a 404 error? Here are a few suggestions:
- Use the available tools. There are a number of tools to help you curb these errors. For instance, if your website is running on WordPress, there are WordPress plugins like All 404 Redirect which automatically redirects visitors to the homepage or to any other page on the website if the page they are looking for isn’t available.
- Make the errors continuable. Reduce the risk of losing visitors by making it possible for them to continue on the conversion process. The easier it is for somebody to continue on your website after reaching an error, the less frustrated they’ll feel after reaching that error. You can do this by suggesting some specific links just as shown in this screenshot below:
- Use a search tool. Just like links, a search feature allows people to continue surfing your site. When they reach an error page, if they see a Search form there, they can enter their desired keyword and have some suggestions displayed before them.
Allow them to contact you. After reach a road block on your website, users are likely to be confused. So, to create a good UX for them at that point, it’ll make sense to allow them to contact you. This you can do by offering a chat live, contact form, or some other ways to access help.
Here are some creative 404 error pages for you to learn from. (HINT: Notice the tactics used in these pages which I did mention above. for example, the first error page includes navigation menu for users to continue.)
2. Humanize Your Website to Improve User Experience
To humanize your website means to make customers see and know that there are some real people behind the scene who they can trust. It’s about creating the human-to-human feeling through your design and content.
People like and trust things that seem more human and less robotic.
In fact, this A/B testing study found that 37Signals achieved 102.5% increase in sign-ups for their Highrise product by adding a picture of a person.
Here’s what the old and new designs looked like:
The simple way to humanize your website is to appeal to emotions.
While you can appeal to emotions through some copywriting methods like storytelling, when it comes to design, you can do this through people. That’s because most purchases are actually based on emotions and people convey emotions.
So, if you truly want to create those emotions and boost your conversion rate, show customers how other people feel using the products or services. Specifically, you can do this by adding great-looking images of a real, happy, smiling people…
Or by adding a video of real people (not cartoons). Videos put a face to your brand and make it look more human and less of a machine. You can base your video around such ideas as:
- A review of your product
- Education, where you teach people how to use the product (good for tech items)
- A demonstration of the product, specifically showing benefits
- Interview with your CEO
- How to register or create account on your website
- A recent initiative or an unforgettable event your team embarked on etc.
Visuals communicate emotions, demonstrate products, add credibility, and intimate your offering with people. This explains why clothing firms use charming models to showcase their products. It makes the potential customer feel they’ll also look fabulous in the clothing.
3. Streamline the Process
In interacting with your website, visitors do go through some processes— the conversion process, checkout process, buying process, and even learning processes.
Conventional wisdom says that you have to keep people for long on your website.
But did you know that keeping people long on a website can negatively affect your conversion rate and the user experience?
While there’s nothing wrong with keeping people on a website, you should make effort to ensure that customers do not stay on a single process longer than normal.
In fact, it’s advisable that you streamline the process and make it super fast and easy for people to complete them.
It’s a matter of simplifying the process and creating a great user experience for customers versus making the process complex, which results in poor UX.
This is directly connected to your user experience design— the amount of time visitors spend through the processes, the things they have to do while going through those processes, the links they have to click, the forms they have to fill and how easy it is to locate those forms, the photos they have to look at to understand your offering better, these are all part of your UED.
Some ways to simplify processes on your website include:
- Shortening the form (shorter forms convert better than longer forms)
- Configuring your website to Improve Page load Time and load faster.
- Make it easy for users to navigate your site. This is SO important. In fact, that’s just about our next point.
4. Make It Easy for Users to Find Things
Clean and simple navigation makes it easy for users to quickly locate what they need. So, here’s the idea:
Think of what customers will look for on your site most frequently. Then make them findable.
When potential customers look for something on your site but find it uneasy to locate, they’ll be frustrated and will go away…
…and probably head straight to your competitor’s site.
That’s a loss opportunity, another customer going away, and failure to build your conversion wall just one more step.
So how do you solve this?
The answer: Great UXD. That’s it!
Sitemaps are great tools.
They provide users with a framework to your site content and make it easy for them to find specific information on your site. Google and other search engines love sitemaps as well basically because maps help them crawl sites easily.
Search boxes are awesome too. But remember to take a look at your site search stats. If your search feature is configured to track the keywords users searched for, and how often those keywords were entered, you can use the information to re-organize your content accordingly for a better user experience.
Even more, a well-arranged navigation menu is godsent.
5. Take Down All Error Messages
Typos, missing PDFs, grammatical errors and misspellings can all contribute to bad user experience for your customers. When users see this kinds of error, they’ll regard you as unprofessional. And that’s the trouble.
It’s poor UX. It can sabotage consumer trust, and jeopardize your branding.
Error messages have to do mainly with your website content. If your web content sucks, it’s likely going to turn users off.
Creating a great first impression is important. When users visit your site, one of the first elements they’ll interact with is your site content (the other one being the visuals).
This makes content an important part of the UI, thus it contribute to the overall UX your website visitors get.
If English is not your first language but your website is written in English, it’s highly recommended you get a pro copywriter to write your web copy.
6. Include Contact Information
Not only should you include contact information, you should also make it clear and easily accessible.
Also, provide multiple methods of contacting your office— phone, email, physical address, fax etc.
Most users loathe contact forms, especially contact forms with CAPTCHA. They’d rather send you a simple email directly than try to figure out some characters.
Yet, most businesses do not put a single email address up on their websites, but the loathsome form with CAPTCHA.
We recommend that you put your phone number and email address on the footer area of every page on your website.
Not just that, but if possible, include a live chat tool, too.
While physical address doesn’t directly have much to do with user experience design, it can serve as a form of “trust sign.”
Let me explain:
When potential customers see your physical address, they’ll immediately perceive that you’re legitimate. They’ll know that you’re not some faceless, online-only company that can suddenly vanish into thin air (probably just by changing your domain name). They’ll know that you’re not without a physical office someone can walk into for help.
This builds trust. And trust is just so vital. It’s a big part of user experience, thus our next point…
7. Keep the Trust Factor In Mind
In most cases, the reasons why buyers do not buy (or stop midway into the purchasing process) is often connected to a lack of trust. But even for websites which don’t sell products or services online, trust is important.
Improving the level of trust your website portrays can help increase its conversion rate. This is why you have to keep the trust factor in mind when working on your website design.
So, the question now is: How can we improve our website design to create and support trusted user experiences?
First off, customers want to be sure that:
- Your company is reliable
- Your product will do what you promise
- Information on your website is correct, complete, and unbiased
They also want to be sure that the product or service is of quality and that as a company, you will protect their personal information— emails, credit card details, names, purchasing history etc.
Once these trust factors are settled in the minds of customers, you won’t have much trouble convincing them to buy from you.
So when designing, you have to be sure that you fix those factors. But how do you do this?
Well, there are several ways to go about it. Let’s peek into some of the most effective ones:
Let’s start with social proof. One sure way to build trust is to include social proof in your design. However, for your social proof to be effective, you have to optimize it.
For instance, if you’re using customer testimonials, include images (real headshots) of the people testifying. And show the testimonials where people will see them.
Another effective way is to show real images of your product in use. What can the product do? Users want to see that. Integrate it into the design.
Let’s not forget security. If your conversion process requires people to give personal information, it’s important they know that their data is safe. This is particularly true with online orders. Use security badges. Blend them into your design.
Endorsement from a popular person or brand works powerfully, too. Many online businesses have this running.
Integrating these trust elements into your web design can help boost conversion. Just remember to display them where users will see, particularly on pages where important purchasing decisions are made.
When it comes to trust, visual appearance also play a major role. In a study conducted, 94% of people said a bad design is a reason they don’t trust some sites.
This means it’s important you carefully check what goes into your design by allowing only the things that should be there and removing every unnecessary elements.
8. Remove Every Unnecessary Elements
When talking about this, my simple rule is…
Be sure to include everything that ought to be there, and be even more sure what shouldn’t be there isn’t there. If it shouldn’t be there, just don’t put it.
It isn’t every web design element that you need in your website.
Here’s a quick list of the major things to get rid of from your website:
- Irrelevant or out-of-date images
- Blank or “Under Construction” pages
- Links to any of your own websites and blogs that you don’t actively maintain
- Irrelevant or out-of-date demo/testimonial/review
- Unnecessary or un-maintained social media accounts
- Endless service offerings
- Unnecessary ads
Ads are dangerous for conversion. They taint and pollute your design.
Sure, you can modify the ads to better suit your design, but do you really want to sacrifice user experience that much?
Do you truly want people to think that other people’s products are a necessary part of your website?
Not only do ads make your site look ugly, they also do the following:
- Ads are a major conversion killer. They compete with your own CTAs. If a user is responding to Google’s ad CTA, that means they aren’t responding to yours.
It’s like working for another man; working so hard to drive the traffic only to be cheated at the final (conversion) stage.
- Ads take visitors away from your website. Again, conversion (and even retention) rates are affected.
- Ads gamble with your reputation and make you feel so powerless.
Google’s algorithm selects the ads to display on your site… not you.
Now, imagine visiting your website as a user only to see a product you wouldn’t personally recommend.
And worse, the product is just next to your headshot… and you’re smiling.
What do think will happen to your reputation when users visit your site and see the same thing?
See? Ads not only steal visitors from your website, they also show users the wrong image of your brand, weaken your conversion funnel and punch your website user experience on the face.
With that said, you might want to avoid irrelevant ads like the plague.
9. Design for Users’ Screen
Responsiveness is an essential part of user experience design. Consider every element alongside your design choices and how these will work on users’ screens.
An unresponsive website can reduce conversion rate. You have to ensure that you convert as many people that visit your site as possible, despite the kind of devices they use.
The world is going mobile. So when designing, also have the mobile user in mind.
Make it possible and easy for any user to access and buy from your site irrespective of the devices they use. If someone can complete a process comfortably using a desktop device, the experience should be the same for the mobile users.
Things to consider here include the visuals, sizes of site elements, accessibility, font size and so on.
Your site’s performance and speed are also very essential.
In a study, Kissmetrics observed that most mobile users (30%) wait between 6 and 10 seconds before abandoning a site. That’s pretty short a time and you should do every good thing possible to keep them.
Kissmetrics also found this:
10. Fix the Content Layout
Like it or not, readability affects user experience. The way you structure your content will determine how visitors will consume and respond to your message.
This is where mastering some information architecture (how information and functionality are organised, classified and labelled) skills comes in.
So, set the layout right. Use headings, bullet points and keep your content concise, short and to the point. There should be enough whitespace as well to break up content for ease of reading.
This makes it easier for users to scan a page for specific information.
And did I just mention the word “scan?”
Sure! Visitors this days will rarely be patient enough to read your whole copy.
right content layout allows your users to quickly get an idea of what the page contains and decide if they want to read further or move to another page.
Usability is Important with UX
First off, usability is how easy it is to use a product (including a website, software, or tool).
Usability testing is a method of evaluating the product by testing it on representative users to see how easy it is to use.
Usability is important for excellent user experience. Thus, after all is said and done, you have to test your product (in this case, your website) to see the ease at which an average user can use it to achieve set goals.
To do this, you’d need some cool tools in hand. TruConversion is one of such. Google Analytics is another. KiSSmetrics, UserFly, Crazy Egg, Usabilla, Qualaroo, UserTesting.com, Five Second Test by Angry Monkeys, ClickHeat by LabsMedia, Simple Mouse Tracking, UserVue.
These are all helpful tools you can use to carry out usability testing on your website to enhance user experience.
Usability testing is a broad topic on its own; so before going at it, you should take out some time to learn about it.
Websites About User Experience
There are loads of websites that talk about UX. Here are a few you might want to check out to improve your user experience skills:
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