Think about your best online shopping experience. Navigating the pages is fast and intuitive, the content loads quickly, and the products are clearly organized and a breeze to sort through. Not a single time does the website make you feel lost, overwhelmed, or confused. Quite the opposite — you find what you are looking for in a heartbeat and even discover a few additional items that pique your interest. The experience is so quick and effortless that before you know it, you have completed the checkout process and are excitedly anticipating the upcoming delivery. Thanks to its user-friendly website, the company has gained another happy customer.
The business impact of great user experience is quite impressive. Not surprisingly, an easy and intuitive design is a key contributor to healthy conversion rates — it has been shown to increase conversion by 400% — double of what a beautifully-crafted interface can do. After all, why would you abandon a website that not only offers everything you need but is also a joy to use? Just as the user-friendly website can help conversion, negative user experience can make people forgo your services. For example, research has shown that 21% of US online shoppers have abandoned an order in the past three months only because the checkout process was “too long or complicated.”
In addition to playing a role in conversion, usability can also make or break your SEO ranking. Google has introduced algorithms to detect and analyze the experience of users as they interact with your website. Slow loading, pages that don’t work well on a mobile screen, and confusing navigation are only some of the usability-related reasons Google can move your site down the list of search results and send your target customers to the competition.
Luckily, there are proven techniques you can use to enhance the online experience of your customers. Listed below are six steps you can take towards offering a more user-friendly experience.
Make it quick and effortless for users to achieve their goals
Great design begins with a thorough understanding of why customers visit your website and what is it that they want to accomplish. Once you identify the main goals of your users, make sure that the steps towards achieving those goals are easy, quick, and intuitive. Let’s look at an example. One of your major target groups is new website users that you are hoping to convert into customers. Novices usually have minimal to no knowledge of what your company is about and what services you offer. Unfortunately, another thing they don’t have is much patience to search for this information for long — a 2015 study found that 46% of users would leave a website if they can’t tell what the company does. Putting yourselves in the shoes of novices can help you ensure they can achieve their goals quickly and effectively. How do you do this? Make sure your homepage contains clear, succinct information about what your website is offering and place it in a prominent location that new users can easily see — usually the page header. Right next to this information include a call-to-action button that points users to how they can get the benefit of your services — for example, by visiting your shop or contacting you for a free consultation. This will make sure new users don’t struggle to look for information or wonder what to do on the website.
Make it easy for users to achieve your business goals
Some of your business goals align with what customers want to do when visiting your website, while others might not necessarily be one of their priorities. To get them to sign up for a newsletter or follow you on social media you might need to put some extra effort— making the feature extra visible, easy to use, and enticing. For example, consider putting social media icons in the main menu at the top of the screen, so users can access them on every page. If the links are buried in the footer or in a small banner in the middle of the homepage, users might easily miss them while looking for higher priority information such as your products.
Similarly, place your newsletter sign-up form in a prominent location on the homepage and surround it with white space so that users’ eyes get attracted to it. Don’t forget to add a one-line description explaining the value of signing up for your newsletter, so that customers have a reason to do so.
Make it easy for users to understand your content
When it comes to processing information, we humans have a very limited capacity. This is an especially serious limitation when browsing the internet — a situation where our brains are required to quickly process large amounts of constantly changing content. This is why text-heavy pages are very difficult for your customers to read through. Rather than spending effort going through every line, users tend to scan the page and abandon the website if they can’t find what they need quickly enough — according to one study this is what 79% of online shoppers actually do on a regular basis. To minimize the effort users spend processing your website, make sure you only show them the content they absolutely need. To facilitate scanning, break your message into its main points, and give each a large descriptive heading. Finally, emphasize key information throughout the body with color and size.
Increase engagement though a beautiful visual design
Although not sufficient on its own, an aesthetically-pleasing interface can improve the user experience and help make the company appear more professional and trustworthy. There are a number of things you can do to improve your website’s visual appeal even if you are not a design guru. Balance text content with large, high-quality images of your product and team and include ample white space. This will not only increase engagement but will also help attract users’ attention and help them process information more efficiently. Make sure all of your titles are consistent in color and size; and all your icons are designed in the same style. Fortunately, making your design beautiful does not have to be painstaking. Many modern WordPress themes come with attractive designs that you can easily customize yourself. Make sure that whichever theme you choose is optimized for a view on a mobile screen, as many users prefer to use their phones when shopping online. If you need any help with customization, you can always get high-quality professional help from WordPress experts like those on Codeable.
Remove technical issues
Technical issues like broken links on your website not only harm your SEO ranking but may annoy and confuse users, making it more likely for them to abandon your service. Checking links on your website manually is a long and tedious process, but luckily there are plenty of good tools that can assist you in this task. For example, Broken Link Checker is a widely-used WordPress plugin that you can take advantage of when monitoring the links on any part of your website. A great time-saving feature is that you can edit the broken links directly from the plugin without having to navigate to the respective post.
Even though there are things you can do yourself to make your website more user-friendly, sometimes you might need the help of an expert. UX Designers specialize in creating intuitive and easy-to-use user experiences that can increase your conversion rate and improve your SEO ranking. A common technique we at DodoWeb employ in our process is the Usability Evaluation. As part of this evaluation, we go through your website to carefully test and examine the navigation, customer flows, content organization, and technical performance and compare them against evidence-based usability principles and best practices. To summarize the findings, we prepare a formal report where we list each issue and pair it with a design recommendation for how it could be addressed. From there, you can approve and prioritize the changes that you are interested in making and proceed to have them developed — this is usually quite easy and straightforward as our UX designers already work in a team with developers.
This was the end of our brief introduction to making your website more user-friendly. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Gabriela Kostova is a UX Designer and Front-End Developer at DodoWeb. She has a background in Cognitive Psychology, Information Design, and Usability.