Let's talk... websites
How to deliver your audience with the best user experience
When trying to run a profitable business, it’s common to think that the key to success is amassing as many sales as you possibly can.
However, sales are more than a numbers game. Behind every sale is a user you need to convince to support your business.
To do this effectively, you need to provide value to your audience. In the modern age, you’re expected to do this across all your digital channels, including your brand website.
The term ‘user experience’ (UX) typically refers to the way customers interact with your website, though it can connect to every touchpoint a potential lead has with your business. The best way to effectively win over users and convert them into buyers is to ensure you are providing an exceptional user experience.
By doing so, you can eliminate any deterrents that may prevent a sale and build a favourable reputation for your brand. It can also drive leads and send your conversion rates skyrocketing.
This guide explores how to create a great user experience across every interaction they have with your business, starting with a considered web design.
Why does user experience matter?
Think about a time when you have had a frustrating experience with a brand. The likelihood is that it made you less likely to buy from that business again – or may have ended your relationship with them altogether. If this is the case, you’re not alone – research from PWC found that 32% of customers would leave a brand they loved after just one negative occurrence.
This is why it’s essential to maintain positive user experiences. You risk losing loyal customers and even putting new leads off without it. While many marketers fall into the trap of focusing on the latest ‘tricks’ to attract sales, it’s much more crucial that you deliver encounters that satisfy user needs and make them want to purchase from you.
As we’ve already mentioned, user experience is commonly associated with websites. Meeting customer needs online is so essential that many brands will specifically hire a UX designer to perfect the process.
Online UX should address any need a user might have when using your website, including finding information quickly and progressing their buyer’s journey. It also removes barriers that may prevent them from completing a purchase. This matters, with 88% of users unlikely to return to a website after a poor encounter.
By focusing on the experiences your users have, you can therefore maximise your sales potential and stand a better chance of converting people. It will also enable you to generate positive feedback from pleased customers, who are consequently more likely to recommend your brand to others and purchase again in the future. This fuels the sales cycle even further.
It’s crucial to think of UX as part of the overall customer experience you offer. You want to ensure your customers only have favourable associations with your brand by providing stellar service at all points. This can help you raise KPIs by over 80% – including brand reputation, sales and retention.
What makes a good user experience?
There are many factors to consider when designing a great user experience. We’ve listed them below to ensure you meet your customer expectations consistently.
Understand your user
In order to tailor your website to the needs of your users, you must understand who it is that’s using it.
To learn more about your target audience’s requirements, spend time researching. This includes utilising data and insight to gain a detailed picture of their lifestyles, pain points and objectives. Creating buyer personas can help with this.
An integral part of this will be mapping their customer journey, allowing you to determine what actions they will take and when. You can then pinpoint the role of your website within the journey and the goals your user may need to fulfil.
Remember to incorporate the various micro-moments the user may have – including the different wants they may have from your business at different times, depending on the broader context at play.
With this inherent knowledge of your audience, you can build a website that caters to them precisely, enabling them to do exactly what they need without causing disruption.
Spend time planning your website
If you want effective UX on your website, you must spend time planning it. If you rush the process, it’s easy to forget to include things or make mistakes. Only 1% of users say an e-commerce website meets their needs every time, so getting it right can exceed their expectations exceptionally.
While in the design stage, focus on all the touch-points a user may have and the needs they are pursuing. Think about how they might come across your website (is it search, social media, referral, email or other?) and what tasks they will need to complete while there.
You also need to focus on what you want the customer to do on your website. If you want them to take a particular action, you need to craft your website to lead them with the appropriate structure and calls to action.
By paying attention to detail in this crucial planning stage, you can map out your website according to your customer journey with all the elements needed to perfect the experience.
Bring in your brand personality
Another integral part of your website should be your brand personality. This reflects how you want to appear to the world and will dictate almost everything, including the imagery and colours you use, the content you include and the tone of voice you write in.
You can also ensure consistency by incorporating your personality into your website, alongside your other channels and marketing materials. This leads to a great overall brand experience.
If you highlight who you are early on, users can quickly ascertain what to expect from your brand and whether it’s a fit for them. This provides a lasting first impression and gives context as they navigate your site.
Your brand personality should impact the look and feel of your website. By creating an attractive design that reflects your ethos, you can make your website engaging for users, which will lead to a more enjoyable time.
Focus on simplicity and usability
One of the best ways to perfect your UX is to avoid overcomplicating things. The aim of your website needs to make the customer journey and purchasing process as simple as possible, with limited barriers for the user. This means providing a streamlined experience that makes logistical sense.
Examples of features you should include for usability include:
- Clear calls-to-action on every page that takes the user to the next step
- Readable fonts
- A navigation menu that is easy to find, with pages listed in the right areas
- A sensible linking structure between pages
- Putting the most crucial information first on a page (attention spans are short!)
- Clear headings
- Relevant imagery
- Easy-to-use interactive features
- Friendly for mobile
Incorporating these features will make it much easier for users to visit the pages they need to complete their goals. By designing them improperly, you risk making your website hard-to-use – leading to frustration and customers abandoning their purchases in favour of better websites!
Guarantee quick loading speeds
A common barrier cited when using websites is speed. Users typically want information as quickly as possible, so a slow loading time can disrupt their journey. 39% of users will stop engaging with content if the loading time is too long or images won’t load.
With potential sales on the line, you need to ensure your website is fast. If a page takes five or more seconds to load, the bounce rate can increase by over 90%.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can speed things up:
- Ensure you’re using a reliable website host
- Compress images
- Reduce redirects
- Enable browser caching
- Remove unnecessary plugins
- Utilise site security features – this will also prevent hacking and website downtime
It’s also crucial that can quickly complete tasks on your website. Alongside the usability features we have already listed, you should include short and precise content and ask for minimal information if the user needs to fill in a form. Including video can also help by allowing users to process large amounts of information more quickly.
Once you have designed your website, you need to check that it’s as usable as you hope. This means conducting rigorous testing.
Tests should be undertaken by external users, not the team who have been involved in creating the website. This allows for an independent and impartial perspective, with no former knowledge of the website, better reflecting the position of your customers.
Start by creating a series of test scenarios covering your entire website and the various functions a user might need to fulfil. The tester should be given a variety of specific tasks to conduct, such as submitting a contact form, making a purchase or finding a piece of information.
They should then provide feedback, including any problems they ran into or tasks they couldn’t complete. This will enable you to uncover any errors with your website ahead of time, so you can address them and avoid user issues.
Part of the user experience is allowing people to find your website when they need it. By utilising SEO, you can lead traffic from search engines towards your business.
There are many elements to great SEO, but it typically means targeting the right keywords in your content. However, to provide a great user experience to those who come through from search, you need to ensure that the keywords you target have relevance.
For example, if you rank for a term like “car windscreen wipers”, the user likely expects you to sell windscreen wipers. If you don’t, it’s likely you won’t solve their problem but will create a poor experience. Ensure you are only targeting search terms that are related to your offering and aim to provide users searching them valuable information that supports their buyer journey.
SEO is also essential for voice search, which is increasing in popularity – so it’s a must for users accessing your website through this technology.
Ensure your other channels offer the same great experience
While UX is most associated with websites, it’s likely this isn’t the only channel you use to communicate with customers. Many brands will have multiple social media channels, emails and press coverage to reach and attract customers. These should all form part of the user experience.
You need to ensure that your other customer channels give the same positive connotations as your website. Provide consistency across them by utilising the same branding and tone of voice. This is particularly integral if a user comes through to your website from one of these other channels or vice versa so that you can ensure a coherent transition.
Most importantly, focus on providing value on every channel. This will enable you to continually meet and exceed customer expectations – which is key to an outstanding experience.
A good user experience is fundamental in attracting customers, converting leads and maximising your sales potential. With great UX providing an estimated return of investment of up to 9900%, this is something that every business wants to achieve.
Perfecting your website to best satisfy your users takes time, starting with developing a deep understanding of your audience and crafting a design that enables them to fulfil their goals efficiently.
By creating scenarios where all needs are met, you can drive sales by removing any potential barriers and ensure all customers leave your brand with only positive associations.
Then, you wait for the tidal wave of rewards guaranteed to come your way.