Our attention is increasingly focused on the online world, and with the widespread adoption of mobile devices, and rising data speeds, accessing a website has never been easier. There is also more choice than ever before for online users, with social media apps competing with traditional websites for our attention.
In this crowded and competitive marketplace, how can you make your website stand out from the crowd? One of the most effective ways is to analyse, optimise and improve the user experience of your website. User experience (UX), is crucial to many website users, even if they may not consciously register it in these terms. For example, 88 percent of online shoppers say they would never return to a website after a negative UX experience.
In this article, we take a look at precisely what user experience entails, and some of the steps you can take to provide a better user experience on your website.
What is UX?
In essence, UX strives to understand what users want from a particular experience, and to optimise the experience in line with that desire.
User experience can be understood more clearly using the user experience honeycomb created by Peter Morville, a designer and information architect. Morville created the honeycomb to distill the essence of the various facets of UX design into six key design elements:
- Useful: Your content should be useful and fulfil a specific need
- Usable: Your website must be simple and easy to use
- Desirable: Visually, your website should be attractive and thoughtfully designed
- Findable: Website content should be findable and easy to navigate
- Accessible: Website design should be accessible to all people, taking into account disabilities
- Credible: The company and website should be credible and invoke trust
Improving UX on Your Website
There are many methods of improving the UX of your website, and we’ve listed some of the most impactful below:
Frequent A/B Testing
A/B testing is at the core of UX, and is one of the most effective ways of judging what elements are contributing to a positive user experience, as well as identifying areas for improvement.
There are many free tools available that allow you to perform powerful A/B tests on your website. A tool such as Inspectlet allows you to monitor how people interact with your website in the form of heat maps, while Google’s free Optimise tool allows you to quickly and effectively perform A/B tests by sending traffic to different variants of the same landing page.
Streamline your Site Structure
Research has shown that two of the UX elements that users value above all else are efficiency and convenience. So how do you translate this insight into the design of your website?
You can begin by streamlining your site structure, by ensuring that every web page and every piece of content, serves a unique purpose. If the purpose is unclear, or if there is significant crossover in content with another page, then this may create confusion for the end-user hoping for efficient and convenient interaction with your website. You can simplify the experience by removing these superfluous pages, as well as ensuring the structure of your site flows logically throughout, with clear and effective CTAs on each page.
Regularly Audit your Site for 404s
Encountering a broken link on a website can be an extremely frustrating experience for an end-user, and for a first-time visitor, they may choose to never return. Prevent this experience from occurring on your website by regularly auditing your site for 404s. You can audit your site for 404s by using SEO crawling software such as Screaming Frog, or by creating a custom 404 report in Google Analytics.
Intuitive navigation is subjective to an extent, but it is also the case that many users have an ‘intuitive’ feel for how websites should be designed, particularly in relation to navigation. Navigation is the exoskeleton of your website, holding the pages in place in an order which complements the whole.
You can analyse at behaviour flow reports in Google Analytics to see how users interact with your website, and where they drop off, The drop off points are where you can focus your attention, as there is likely to be some sort of impediment, perhaps as a result of design, resulting in users bouncing off your website.
More Whitespace, Less Clutter
It is crucial that you capture your end user’s attention immediately when they visit your website. Research has shown that a minimalist homepage design can help to retain a user’s attention, with attention increasing by 200% in response to an increase in whitespace around headlines and text. Ideally, you want a user to focus immediately on the most important information when they visit your website. Cutting back on unnecessary information, and increasing whitespace around your key features helps to focus your user’s attention on what’s really important to them.
Optimise Site Speed
Page load time is a crucial element of any website experience, so much so that Google will give significant weight to it when it comes to ranking your website in their search engine. A slow-loading website is a website that provides a poor experience, with over half of users abandoning a website altogether that takes longer than three seconds to load on a mobile device.
If you are struggling with page load time on your website, there are a number of fairly straightforward steps you take to quickly upgrade your performance. For more details, check out our in-depth article on How to Increase Page Speed.
Once you’ve optimised the speed of your key landing pages, use the StatusCake Page Speed Test to monitor the impact of your changes. Page Speed Tests are built into the free plan, with users able to increase the testing frequency on the Superior and Business plans.
Mobile-Friendliness and Responsive Design
Last, but by no means least, to provide a positive experience for your end-users you must maintain a responsive and mobile-friendly version of your website. While this can be an expensive undertaking, it is absolutely imperative in today’s mobile-first world. People will interact with your website on a variety of different devices and screen sizes, and it’s crucial that you design for their experience as much as the traditional desktop user.
Use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly test app to see how mobile-friendly your key pages are.