VOL. 131 | NO. 244 | Thursday, December 8, 2016
It’s Not All About You On Website
BY ADDIE McGOWAN
Today, 97 percent of consumers search for products and services online. However, many companies don’t have a website that keeps the goals of their users in mind. Likewise, many websites are designed without forethought into when users are accessing the site and for what purpose, resulting in a lack of mobile optimization or call-to-action tools, according to the Score Association.
If you are considering launching a website or updating your current site, you might be thinking about designing it with your tastes, needs and goals in mind. However, this is the most common mistake I see businesses of all sizes make – neglecting to think about their desired audiences’ “user experience,” or UX, as it’s referred to in the digital world.
The Neilson Norman Group says, “‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. The main requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother.”
It can be difficult to separate your own view from that of your end-user or customer, so I like to give real-world analogies to help explain why UX is so important. Think about your website as a storefront on a bustling street lined with other businesses and shops, and yourself as a tourist on this street. With that in mind, here are some UX best practices to consider when developing or updating your site:
Effective user experience is intuitive. In the environment of a street, everyone knows that a green light or walk signal means “go.” If you use intuitive patterns with buttons and prompts within the context of your website – an overall web best practice – you can typically use less copy and create a more streamlined user experience.
User experience is simple. It can be overwhelming to walk down a crowded street with many signs competing for your attention. The same can be said of cluttered websites. Focus on guiding users down simple, marked paths to make the site more effective. That does mean you can’t put everything on the homepage, so prioritize content to accomplish a simple goal.
User experience is consistent. If you walk by a deli at lunchtime and the sign on the door says “Open,” you’d expect to be able to walk in and get a sandwich. You would be upset if the door was locked or you walked in to find a dry cleaner. Similarly, website links that are broken or misleading by name leave the user with an unfavorable impression of your business.
Designing websites with users in mind is critical as the web becomes more crowded and more businesses compete for your customers.
Think of your website as a city map and yourself as a visitor, navigating through it to gather information and complete tasks. What simple changes can you make to improve users’ experience? The more intuitive, simple and consistent you can make it, the better. The digital world can be daunting and complicated, but your website doesn’t have to be.
Addie McGowan is a senior digital marketing specialist at Archer Malmo.