Regardless of what industry you’re working in, it’s very likely that competition within your business’s field has only become more cutthroat in recent years. Indeed, thanks to the boom in ecommerce and the increasing ease with which people can connect with each other all over the globe, markets have become increasingly crowded as businesses go to battle over their potential customers.
Today, the stakes are higher than ever. Statistics reveal that 82 percent of customers will drop a company’s service after just one bad customer service experience, and surveys from Gartner (News - Alert) research indicate that customer experience is the number one source of inter-business competition and the top priority for marketing teams. Since it’s increasingly likely that a potential customer’s first interaction with your business will be online, specifically on your website, it stands to reason that your website is the first line of defense in this battle, and as such, should be giving users the best possible first impression.
The foundation for a good first impression on any website is the site’s UX design. UX, short for user experience, is the basic framework for the various pathways a user can take on a website. Imagine you’re building a house; the UX phase of design is essentially the blueprint. Without good UX, a site can be totally nonsensical and impossible to navigate, which is detrimental for attracting visitors.
With that in mind, here are five tips to improving your business site or app’s UX.
Form Follows Function
Let’s stick with that house-building analogy for a moment. What good is a house that looks really pretty on the outside but is full of dead-ends, false staircases, and poor navigation on the inside? It’s really no good at all. To that end, UX is the first step in the design process for a reason. Don’t just make your site look pretty and then try to shoehorn some pathways into it. If you look through examples from UX design portfolios, you’ll notice that they certainly look good, but they prioritize ease-of-use and simplicity for the user above all else. Remember, you’re still trying to win customers here, and having a pretty site alone won’t do the trick. Instead, clearly direct them to where you want them to go.
Don’t Overload. Spread the Love Around.
A good home page is extremely important. That’s a no brainer. It’s not so important, however, that you need to cram every bit of information a user could possibly need onto it. Many of the best welcome pages out there don’t actually have much information, but opt for pleasing design and easy navigation cues instead. If your website’s UX is solid enough, then a user should have no problem browsing around the various pages on your site. Therefore, only give them the bare essentials they need to know when they first land on your home page.
Embrace The Void
In just the same way that you don’t want to overload a user with too much information right off the bat, don’t be afraid to use blank space to your advantage on a page. There’s an old adage in music that says the silence in between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves, and the same concept applies to UX. Whitespace is not wasted space. Far from it. Whitespace is quite important, for it allows you to direct users’ attention to the most important aspects of your site. It also allows for quick navigation on the user’s part. People tend to browse very quickly, and having things in their way and on the borders can make for a distracting user experience. No need to fill the space; embrace the void.
Be Quick About It
This one should go without being said, but one of the biggest deterrents to user experience is loading time for a site and page. There are even statistics to back this up, and users’ demands are pretty high. For example, 47% of users expect a page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of users will abandon a site if it fails to fully load in three seconds. You’d hate to lose almost half of your potential customer base right off the bat, so streamline the loading by eliminating large image files, getting rid of useless plugins, and caching the site for optimized loading speed.
Offer Help. Redirect.
Occasionally, users will lead themselves to a dead-end on your site. Sometimes a URL gets typed incorrectly, or a broken link will take users to a page that doesn’t exist. In this case, don’t just leave users stuck with a 404. Offer to guide them back to a more useful place, such as the home page, or perhaps a page related to what they were looking for based on a search query. Additionally, creative 404 error pages can be a great way to endear users to your brand and business’s personality.
A beautiful house is nothing if the blueprints aren’t rock solid. Be sure to optimize your business’s UX in order to draw as many customers as your business deserves.