Imagine you’ve just walked into a dimly lit cafe. You have heard good things about the owners, but so far you haven’t spotted a menu and employees are nowhere in sight. After waiting a few minutes, your stomach growls; confirming your decision to head elsewhere for lunch.
How likely are you to return to that cafe? Chances are you won’t. This is the same experience website visitors have upon entering a poorly designed website. Like the cafe – they’re unlikely to give your website a second chance.
Is your website due for a renovation? We’ll reveal how to improve website user experience in just 6 steps.
STEP 1: Improve website design.
The foundation for better website user experience starts with excellent website design. Website templates make this easier than ever. Equipped with all of the features most businesses could ever need, everything works together like a well oiled machine. They were made to go together, afterall.
A few things to look for in a user-friendly website template:
- Responsive design. An unresponsive web design is sure to result in poor user experience for users on different screen sizes. Responsive or “mobile friendly” websites adjusts seamlessly to whatever device they are visited on.
- Contrasting colors. Pairing website text and backgrounds that are too similar in color can take a toll on website user experience. Not only is it unappealing from a design standpoint, but it also makes text difficult to read.
- Clear form fields. A submitted form usually translates to a website conversion. To encourage these conversions and improve website user experience, make the wording of form fields very clear. Cutting back the number of fields to what is absolutely necessary will also help.
STEP 2: Rearrange your website navigation menu.
If you have an account set up with Google Analytics already, you’re sure to have some great data to help guide your navigation menu restructure.
After you’ve logged into your account, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. In this report you can see which of your pages are most popular along with other information like bounce rate, average time on page, and more.
Giving popular pages a prime location will allow users to find the information they want as quickly as possible. It may also be that you have services listed in a drop down that aren’t being visited at all. In this case, it would be best to remove or consolidate them with another page.
You haven’t set up Google Analytics for your website yet? It’s not too late! Google will walk you through installation on this page.
STEP 3: Fix error pages.
While you can certainly minimize errors, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate them altogether. Whether a page is relocated or deleted, website visitors usually find those dreaded 404 error pages quite disappointing. Make the most of what could be a bad situation by improving error pages.
Instead of the generic 404 page, design something that matches the rest of your website and assures users they haven’t been abandoned into no man’s land. Of course it depends on your audience, but many businesses choose to put a humorous spin to their error pages.
If comedy isn’t in your skill set, use a simple, to the point message like, ‘Oops! Well that wasn’t supposed to happen.’ Most of your website users are oblivious to the meaning of a 404 error anyway.
The most frustrating part about an error page is that it means you have reached a dead end. Instead of leaving it up to users to choose a new route, create an obvious next step. This could include a search bar, link to popular pages, or a nice big ‘back’ button.
STEP 4: Improve website load time.
It’s no coincidence that simplified, streamlined design elements are now what is considered “in style” for web design. The less pieces included in a website design, the faster it will load.
Scripts, images, style sheets, and animations all require new HTTP requests to be made. Cutting back on these is a fair trade off for faster page load time and improved user experience.
Expand this minimalistic approach to the back end of your website as well. Plugins can help your website do all kinds of handy things with ease, but they can also weigh down your website. Limit plugins to your absolute favorites to achieve a speedier performance.
STEP 5: Format and organize your website content.
Does your website content resemble a book report? If so, visitors probably aren’t having the best user experience. There’s a delicate balance to keep between too much content and not enough.
If you have too much content, you risk boring users. They really just want a quick summary of how your business will benefit them and help them reach their goals. At the same time, not enough content will mean you have nothing for search engines to index and use in order to rank your website accurately in search engine results.
Include enough content on your main pages to explain what your business provides and your competitive advantage. Blog articles are where you can begin to turn up your word count output.
A great way to break up large pages of text is with proper formatting and design. Headers and text variation help highlight important snippets and hold the interest of even the most impatient of skimmers.
Here’s a website demo that has content ratio down pat. The homepage has short lines of text, allowing them to emphasize their message while maintaining a clean, modern design.
STEP 6: Add live chat support.
Anyone who has ever run into an issue while researching a product or service knows how important live chat support is. There’s nothing more frustrating than researching something in depth, experiencing a problem halfway through the purchase process, and then discovering that the website only responds to messages via email.
You want an answer to your question now, not within 3-5 business days. Adding a small live chat support box to the bottom of your website is a great way of showing users that you are present and ready to help. Even if they never do need the assistance, it will increase their trust in your business and they will keep it in the back of their minds.
The effect a few simple website changes can have on your business may surprise you. Better user experience will not only increase the conversion rate of those visiting your website, it will also help you reach new users. It’s no secret that search engines are big fans of great user experience and they will reward your efforts with a better position in search engine results!