A positive user experience can make a world of difference in how customers perceive your company or brand. They might like your product, but if your website is difficult to navigate or looks cheap or outdated, that can have a negative impact on your business. Here are some easy tips for making sure your website is providing the best possible user experience for your visitors.
Make Sure Your Website is Ready for Your Customers
Before you start picking color schemes, here are some things you’ll need to consider that will help ensure your website provides a positive user experience.
Before they even land on your website, the user experience begins. Have you ever clicked a link and had to wait 5, 10, 20 seconds for a page to load? How long did you wait before you tried a different site? Your site shouldn’t take more than five seconds to load the content on the page, though 3 seconds is generally considered ideal. Here are some tips for keeping loading time to a minimum.
- Go Easy On the Images. Use lightweight, compressed JPEGs. Don’t put too many images on a single page (unless it’s a gallery page, then use thumbnails). Also avoid using large photo sizes. Crop down large photos to help improve load time.
- Minimize Plugins. I know it’s easy to get excited by all the cool website plugins out there. For marketers, there seems to be a never-ending flow of cool new plugins for your site. Keep in mind, the more plugins you have the longer it will take your page to load. Try to keep just a handful of plugins running on your site. If you can find one plugin that does the job of two or three, then run with that.
You can test your site’s load times with the Google Page Speed Insights tool.
Are You Mobile Ready?
More and more people are accessing the internet via their phone. Actually, back in July (2014), Search Engine Watch announced that for the first time ever the number of Mobile internet users had exceeded the number of desktop users.
This data highlights the need for a responsive website–one that knows the device your visitor is using and fits your website to their screen. This makes viewing and using your website on any mobile device easier. For those who haven’t tried it, using a non-responsive website on a mobile device can be a very frustrating user experience and that’s not something you want associated with your business.
Look for themes that explicitly state that they are responsive and/or utilize HTML5. A quick Google search will lead you right there.
Google has a page full of resources and case studies that offers great information on the value of mobile-friendly websites.
Knowing your audience can make your site more welcoming and more relatable and thus a more effective tool. If you are tuned in to their interests, then you’ll be able to capture their attention and provide a more engaging user experience than if you focused solely on your product. Here are some elements to focus on when tuning your site to suit your visitors.
- Visuals. Your site should cater to your audience. Millennials are drawn to simple, minimalist layouts with lush, high-quality imagery that is aspirational or relatable. Using stock photos could turn them off, but Boomers might not think anything of it.
- Navigation. Your site MUST be easy to navigate. In addition to intuitively-named navigation headers, your site should also offer a sitemap (typically via a link placed in the footer). Your site should also have a search function that works well. Search engines don’t get it right 100% of the time. If your user lands on a page that isn’t what they wanted, make it easy for them to find what they came for.
- Copy. This is critical, but simple. You talk to your coworkers differently (I suspect) from the way you talk to your parents, which is different from how you talk to your college buddies. Knowing how to talk to someone can greatly increase the effectiveness of your message. Semantics are everything and you have to be able to bend voice and tone to your audience, otherwise your message will likely go in one ear and out the other. Copywriting is part technical ability and part talent. Do yourself a favor and make sure an actual copywriter (not a developer, account manager, admin, or even your CMO) is putting the words on your website.
Shameless plug: If you don’t have a copywriter on hand, let’s talk. Contact me with details regarding your project and I’ll be happy to tell you how I can help.
Your Website Needs More Than Traffic
Generating website traffic and earning a high search rank is a difficult and often expensive task. Don’t waste your money by having a site that your visitors can’t or don’t want to engage with. A good website generates a good user experience and that in and of itself can generate traffic, buzz, and boost shareability. By focusing on these foundations, you’re giving yourself a head start when it comes to beating the competition.