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Basic ways to Improve Online User Experience
by Startacus Admin
Basic Ways to Improve your Online User Experience...
Unless your business is a one-of-a-kind with no competition, which is unlikely, the experience that visitors to your website have could be the difference between a lifelong customer for you and sending one to your competitors. This goes hand-in-hand with encouraging customer engagement online.
People have little time and perhaps less patience, and this shows in their browsing habits; you need to ensure that your website meshes with these habits and keeps them happy. Depending on how you look at it, this can be both simple and complex. Luckily, the basics fall into the former category, and with some small tweaks your website could be converting browsers to customers and loyal followers in no time. So here are some of those basics.
We’ve been writing a fair bit about user-generated content lately, so we might as well start with that. Implementing some kind of UGS will improve your site, trolls aside, and make your users feel more included and engaged. The most obvious example is Facebook. Its entire business is UGS and it is used by close to 2 billion people. They don’t necessarily care about Facebook itself, granted, but does that hurt Facebook? Not really.
The most basic form of user-generated content is reviews. Customer reviews often make the difference between a purchase and a pass, so incorporating reviews and/or feedback into your website – certainly your product or service’s page – could make your brand more attractive to first-time visitors. It makes it easier for the user to tell if yours is the kind of business on which they want to spend their precious time, and perhaps money. Other forms of UGS can make the user experience fun and rewarding, so it is definitely something to look into.
White space might look like unused potential but, so long as it’s not overdone, it actually makes your website clearer and your text more legible. Clean, white space has the psychological effect of giving your site a fresh, bright, and open feel. Just don’t waste space with…space.
Imagery is another thing we’ve mentioned many times. Use pictures to break up walls of text and give the reader’s eyes a reward for reading your words. Choose your images wisely – they should be not just relevant, but engaging, evocative, and not immediately identifiable as that stock image they just saw five minutes ago on another site. Where you can, use your own images to not only make it more unique, but to make it more relatable, personal, and interesting to the user.
Another visual element to your site is the consistency of fonts, colours, layout, etc. Consistency will keep your users happy and comfortable. So long as it is a simple and intelligent layout, they will quickly learn it and feel at home on your site.
A lot of people browse the internet on their phones and tablets, so it is vitally important to ensure that your site can be properly viewed on these devices. A shockingly large number of professional websites overlook the importance of this, and their traffic surely suffers for it. Mobile users should not have to scroll sideways to see the full breadth of your site, they shouldn’t have to squint at the screen and hold it an inch from their eye to read the text (or, you know, zoom in), and it should be easy to tap on links and menu items without accidentally opening the wrong thing. These days, making a site mobile-friendly should be a fundamental part of any web developer’s process.
As the world spins on, we seem to have less and less time in our hours and minutes. This hurried pace and lack of patience is nowhere more evident than online. The days of typing in a web address and going off to make a cup of tea while it loads are long gone; users expect instantaneous responses to their clicking and key tapping. There are many factors that contribute to a fast-loading website and, again, it’s up to your web developer to do what they can for it. Anyone who adds content should also be aware of the factors, however, as simply adding a large image or embedding a video can have a noticeable impact.
Keep it simple, stupid
As well as not calling your readers stupid, you should avoid making your content convoluted and overly long, lengthy, protracted, prolonged, lingering, verbose, and laborious. Because it’s annoying. It’s fine to set an ideal word count per article, for example, but if the content doesn’t want to stretch out that far, don’t force it. If your readers can get quality information in just a few paragraphs, that’s fine.
A way of combining this with visuals is to use non-conventional bullet points. You’ll have seen them before: small icons representing the brief paragraph they sit beside. This can be pleasing to the eye on multiple levels, as well as keeping perhaps otherwise boring or complicated information or statistics simple…stupid.
We’ve touched on this already, but making sure users can easily and quickly navigate your site is crucial. Clear, simple menu bars that do not have more than one sub-menu when you click on them; a search bar that searches tags, titles, and content of your pages and blog posts; quick links to get back to the top of long pages. Basically, your users should be able to find their way about your site without frustration or confusion, and they should be able to easily find whatever they are looking for.
Calls to action
Your calls to action should – you might detect a pattern – be simple, easy to access, and attractive. These calls to action include buttons for signing up to your website or subscribing to your newsletter, and social sharing buttons. If a reader enjoys your article and wants to share it, it should be simple to do so – they shouldn’t have to go searching for these buttons. Once they click on said buttons, there should be a simple and effective message ready to go that doesn’t sound too advertorial or spammy, and that leaves enough space for the user to add something.
Think of the same things for your call to action buttons as you do with the rest of your site – location, wording, colour, etc.
If you sell a product or service through your site, make it quick and straightforward for the customer to place an order. Think carefully about whether you want to allow people to place orders without signing up – it’s a question of the benefit to you vs. the risk of the user abandoning their purchase.
Ensure that the customer can clearly see that the transaction is safe and secure, keep the number of pages the process takes them through to a minimum, offer as many payment options as you can, and generally make everything clear and simple. It goes without saying that this is of great benefit to both you and the customer.
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.