Your website may be a place for clients to find out basic information about your business, or it may constitute the entirety of your business’s presence in the world. Whether your website is for advertising, selling or a bit of both, you need to focus on user experience if you want to keep clients on your site. Users who find a site confusing or hard to navigate aren’t likely to return, and that can hurt your profits in the long run. Want to keep users engaged and make it easy for them to find what they want? Then, remember to focus on these seven essentials of improving user experience:
1. Position the most important stuff above the fold.
The phrase “above the fold” is an old newspaper phrase, which refers to having the top stories above the fold in the newspaper. In the online world, this phrase refers to everything that’s immediately visible on the page before the user starts clicking or scrolling. While making you site, identify the most essential pieces of information you want to share and make sure those details are above the fold.
For example, if your website is there to support your brick and mortar location, your address, phone number and similar details need to be above the fold. That makes it easy for users to find your site and immediately find the information they are seeking. Conversely, if you run an ecommerce site, you may want a search box, a description of your current sale and a photo of your best product above the fold.
2. Use white space wisely.
White space is another old print media term, and it refers literally to the white space in a newspaper or magazine layout. On your website, white space can be any color. It is simply space that isn’t filled with text or images.
Use white space wisely. Too much white space fills areas you could be using to promote products or services, while not enough white space results in a site that feels overly busy and cluttered. If a site is too cluttered, users are likely to feel overwhelmed and confused, not the emotions you are trying to elicit in most cases.
3. Consult with the pros.
Finding the perfect balance between text, images and white space as well as deciding what to put above the fold can be difficult, especially if you are new to the world of web page design. To help yourself navigate those issues easily, consult with a professional.
Some of your marketing funds should be earmarked for website development issues such as improving user experience. When you have a professional fine-tune your site, it can improve UX, which in turn keeps users on the page longer, increasing the chance that they will take action such as making a purchase or coming to your shop. When you have funds to focus on user experience, it is an investment into your company and its long term potential for growth, brand recognition and profits.
4. Optimize your site for mobile users.
As any design consultant will tell you, optimizing your site for mobile users is critical. A huge portion of the people who visit any site do so on their phones or tablets. If your site isn’t optimized, accessing it on a phone will be like looking at a huge site through a tiny window. Users will have to do a lot of uncomfortable scrolling, enlarging and looking around just to find the tiniest details.
In contrast, if your site is mobile optimized, the user sees the above-the-fold information displayed on their little screen the instant they pull up your website, and the rest of the UX features you’ve created will also shift slightly so that they work on a mobile.
5. Differentiate hyperlinks.
Whether a client is accessing your site on their mobile phone or their laptop, they need to be able to quickly identify the hyperlinks. Hyperlinks must be differentiated from the rest of the elements on the page through color, size, font and other details, and they should stand out in a way that intuitively says “click me, click me”. Additionally, to instinctively encourage flow, hyperlinks should utilize actions words.
6. Monitor your page loading speed.
When someone clicks on a hyperlink, they want the next page to load immediately. Even people who remember the days of dial up, aren’t willing to go back there. Now, people need pages to load instantly, and if they don’t, the user is likely to jump on another site.
There are multiple free and easy-to-use tools online that can analyze the loading speed of your website. These tools tell you how long the page takes to load, and they help you identify bottlenecks so that you can alter your page accordingly. Run these checks periodically so you know what your users are experiencing.
7. Be consistent from page to page.
As someone uses your website, they get used to your set up. They start to anticipate where to click or the most effective ways to navigate the site. To streamline the learning experience, all of your pages should be consistent.
Consistency from page to page helps your website to look professional, but it also optimizes user experience as it lets users take what they learned from one page and apply it to the next. Sites that lack consistency from page to page can be harder to navigate and less aesthetically appealing overall.
Crafting a website involves so many elements. You have to think about color, balance, information, graphics, text and countless other things, but arguably, one of the most important things to consider is user experience. If users cannot navigate your site, any bells and whistles it has will be rendered impotent. Remember, your site exists for your users — without them, it has no purpose.
Users should be your main priority while creating your site.