How to Improve User Experience on Your Website

It’s no secret that if you want to succeed in running a business, you need to provide your customers and clients with an amazing experience.

But what you may not realize is that it’s not enough to simply provide great customer service in person or over the phone. Many of your customers will encounter your business online first, so every aspect of your website provides visitors with a fantastic user experience (UX).

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to make your customers’ lives easier by focusing on their needs and concerns and taking a proactive approach to anticipate their experience.

Benefits of good user experience design

Good news for you! Improving your site’s user experience packs some serious benefits for your business, including:

Benefit #1 - lower bounce rates

If your website has a high bounce percentage, it means that people are likely either frustrated with your site or that they aren’t finding what they’re looking for there. A lower percentage is a good thing and is often only possible when the page is easy to access and easy to use.

Bounce rate is one of the numbers we look at when your website doesn’t generate the kind of leads you’re looking for. It can show us exactly which pages are driving users away, as well as which pages are more successful in encouraging users to stay on your site longer.

Benefit #2 - higher conversion rates

Conversion and bounce rates go hand in hand. When talking about your website, it’s important to note that conversion doesn’t have to mean that a lead suddenly bought your product or signed up for your service (and converted to a customer). It can simply mean that they clicked on a call to action or that they filled out a form to get more information about your business.

Every business wants a website with high conversion rates. It means that users to your site are interested, and those small conversion steps they take on your site can lead to them become a paying customer

Benefit #3 - better sentiment toward your brand

This is a huge factor that a lot of businesses don’t consider in their marketing efforts.

Your ultimate goal in marketing is not to turn a lead into a customer. It’s to turn customers into LOYAL customers.

This is every business’ dream: a strong following of people who love their product, leave positive reviews, and share that product with other potential customers. Happy customers often become repeat customers, meaning more sales over time with less effort. A website that provides a good user experience is one way you can help people have a more positive association with your business.

Optimizing for User Experience

We’re going to use these three key factors listed above throughout this article to highlight how each step can benefit both your users and your business. You’ll quickly see that focusing on your website’s user experience is an extremely powerful way to have happier customers, bring in more sales, and build a strong base of loyal customers.

1. Every page needs a clear call to action

It’s easy to forget about calls to action when you’re focusing on big-picture elements like look, feel, and page layout. However, calls to action are such a crucial element of your website design that they deserve their own special attention.

Every single page on your website needs at least one clear, compelling call to action — i.e., a link, form, or button that helps users take the next step. This can be as simple as linking to your services page from your homepage, or as complex as offering an online scheduling tool that allows users to secure an appointment.

There’s also a very good chance that many of your pages will have the same call to action. Most commonly, businesses want to send users to their contact page. If this describes you, we would likely have a call to action that leads to your contact page from nearly every page on your website.

This is a part of the design process that should be thought about critically, as some pages are more suited to certain calls to action. We know every business website is different, so when it comes to your customers’ user experience, we never take a blanket approach.

Here are some ideas for calls to action that we’ve included in some of our previous projects:

  • An option to subscribe to your blog or newsletter
  • A link to your contact page with a form for the user to fill out
  • Links to other pages on your site with more information on a topic
  • Downloadable PDFs (spec sheets, product catalogs, and helpful guides)
  • An online scheduling tool that allows the user to make an appointment
  • A link to log into your website (as an employee, paid user, volunteer, etc.)
  • A link to related blog posts throughout (and at the end of) a blog post

Ultimately, there should be no page on your website where a user would think, “I want to learn more about this business, but I don’t know how.” Users are impatient and they won’t spend more than a few seconds looking for that next step, so it's important to anticipate how they may want to learn more about your business based on the content they’re currently viewing.

2. Choose colors and fonts that are easy to read

This is something that we designers spend a considerable amount of time thinking about when planning out a client website. Of course we want the layout to look attractive, but we also try to make life as easy as possible for your users through typography, layout, and color choices.

Incidentally, we often see a correlation between these elements and bounce rates — the harder it is for your visitors to make out what your page says, the more likely they are to back out of it.

For colors, we always aim for a good contrast. There’s a reason that most word processors have a white background and black text — it’s simple, clean, and always easy to read. But most websites aren’t just black and white, so we have to look carefully at the colors you’re using and make sure that there’s a healthy contrast between backgrounds and font colors.

There’s a good bit of color theory that can go into this, but we can break it down quite simply: If your site uses a darker background, we opt for lighter text. If you’ve chosen a lighter background, we opt for darker text.

Next, we help you choose a font that’s highly legible. It’s easy to gravitate toward the more unique fonts out there. Or, as every site seems to be transitioning to the thinner, more modern fonts, it’s easy to choose a font that’s too thin. But the most important thing isn’t that your site’s font is the most fun or unique — it’s that your users can actually read it without squinting or zooming in.

Remember, what is easy for you to read may be difficult for others. That’s why we put our years of design expertise to work and help you choose the right colors and fonts to clearly express your brand while still giving your website visitors the best experience possible.

3. Remove elements that slow down your site

If a page has a high bounce rate, there’s also a good chance that it doesn’t load quickly enough. Bounce rates increase by 50% if your website takes 2 seconds extra to load. After a 3-second loading time, 40% of users will back out of the site.

That means if your bounce rate is at a staggering 90%, it could be as low as 50-60% (a much more reasonable range) if only it loaded faster.

But what exactly is slowing down your website? There are many possibilities. If you worked with an inexperienced designer or developer to create your site, they may not have taken the time to properly compress files and clean up any errors in their code. If you used a free website tool, all those fancy themes and extra plugins could be teeming with elements that dramatically slow down your site.

Some common culprits of a slow page load include:

  • Large image sizes added to the site
  • Embedded videos
  • An inadequate web hosting server
  • Poorly coded plugins
  • External scripts
  • Improper compression

Curious to see just how fast your site is? There are plenty of free tools out there that will help you do just that. You can input your website’s URL into Pingdom or Hubspot’s Website Grader (we also check your site speed before diving into a redesign). If your site takes longer than 2-3 seconds to load, there’s a good chance that your bounce rates are suffering because of it.

If enabling compression or dealing with external scripts sounds like work that’s more technical than you’re comfortable with, the good news is that we handle all of this for you. Here are some of the ways we tackle slow site speeds:

Choose the right format and compress your images

One of the key things we do is make sure the images on your website are optimized for the web. In fact, one study found that 90% of slow websites have unoptimized images.

Ideally, your images should be as small as they can be (far smaller than 1 MB) while still maintaining their quality.

Eliminate heavy plugins

Sometimes, improving site speed means taking a deep dive into the back end of your CMS or website platform to investigate more technical and code-related issues.

This is especially common when we’re dealing with a site that was originally built with WordPress. That’s because WordPress sites are notorious for their heavy plugins and poorly written code that bog your site down.

That’s just one of the many reasons why we prefer Craft CMS for all of the sites we build. But we won’t spend too long extolling its merits here, because we already wrote a definitive guide on the topic, which you’re welcome to browse at your leisure.

4. Consider your mobile and tablet users

In an ideal world, you’d have a responsive website, which means it would be able to scale up or down to fit any screen size (whether that be a desktop, tablet, or smartphone). But responsive design isn’t something you can have with just an easy click.

Still, the fastest way to send mobile and tablet users away from your site is to ignore how your website functions on mobile and tablet devices. For example, if a mobile user has to zoom in to view your site on their device, or if your buttons are too small for them to easily click, many mobile users will simply back out of your site.

Responsive design best practices include:

  • Ensuring that the font size is large enough to read on a small device. You don’t want your user to have to zoom in, especially on buttons, since the screen likely won’t let them zoom in and click at the same time. And since tablet and mobile users are using their fingers instead of a mouse, it's important to make sure that everything has a bit more padding to keep things comfortable.
  • Sticking to one main focus for each page. Screen size is extremely limited on a mobile device, and trying to clutter too many things onto the screen is a quick way to frustrate your mobile users. We typically emphasize white space, minimalism, and one key focus for each page.
  • Including a mobile menu. On a desktop, your navigation probably stretches horizontally across the top of the screen, but on a mobile menu, it’s all about the vertical. If a user can tap on a button that displays the menu vertically down their mobile screen, they can navigate around your site much more easily.
  • Reducing the size of your forms and including functionality that auto-generates the right keyboard for the field. For example, if you have a field for “zip code,” the ideal situation is for the keyboard to load a number pad when the user clicks on it. If they have to manually choose their number keyboard, they can get frustrated.

5. Make it scannable

When was the last time you sat down and read a web page? Like seriously focused and read all of the details?

If we had to guess, we’d say it’s probably been a while. That’s because the average website visitor only has time to read 28% of any given webpage, although in practice, only about 20% of your content makes it through.

Your audience is in a hurry, so if you want them to have a great user experience on your site, we need to make sure they can find what they’re looking for fast.

That starts with the layout. Visitors tend to view websites in an F-shaped pattern, with more attention given to the top left corner of the page. The farther to the right and farther down the page their eyes move, the less time they spend reading. You can see that F-shaped pattern clearly in this heatmap, which measures where visitors’ eyes land most often on a page:

Heatmap tracking

It's also important to make your website more skimmable by leaving plenty of white space between elements. This allows each piece of your site to stand out more and gives your visitors’ eyes room to rest while they read.

6. Simplify your message

Another way to improve your users’ experience on your site is by simplifying your message. According to a recent Web Usability Report, the lack of a clear message is the Number 1 reason most visitors leave a website:

Website elements that annoy buyers

User experience is worth the effort

If you want to see how the principles of user experience can make a huge impact for a business like yours, check out our web design work for companies similar to yours. We’ve seen first-hand how putting user experience first leads to dramatically improved websites and, in turn, more successful businesses.

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