What makes for good website user experience

Users on your site don’t want to spend time and energy to find the info they need.

You can have the best value proposition known to humankind and be targeting the exact right audience with perfectly tailored marketing… but if potential customers land on your site and it’s less user-friendly than the tiny, cheap allen wrenches that come with most furniture kits, you’ve got a big problem.

Your potential customers are going to bounce — off your site and off your list of prospects. 

Most people are going to leave a website that is taking too long to load. And that’s certainly true if a potential customer is in the very early stages of learning about your brand and your offering. Visitors want their questions answered — quickly, efficiently, and without having to click the back button over and over again in order to find out what offerings you provide and how to get to the next level in their relationship with you. 

Users on your site don’t want to spend time and energy to find the info they need. They want to land on a visually-pleasing site that draws them in and lays out information logically so they can find what they need — fast. After all: your lead offering is supposed to solve their problem, not create a whole new one. 

A good website is your best salesperson. Your site is available 24/7. It should be able to quickly help the prospect understand your business and why they want to work with you. A great site can boost a prospect's confidence in your business before they ever speak with someone who represents your company. 

So what makes a good web user experience? 

There’s really three main components to a website with a great user experience: 

  1. The right content. Not too much… and not too little. Your lead offering needs to be front and center, and there’s got to be a clear path to learning more if a prospective client finds that they are interested in working with you. 
  2. The right design. Your website should be clear, consistent, and not overly cluttered. The right design will communicate your brand from top to bottom, without veering into kitschy territory. Your website should feel modern and easy to navigate. 
  3. The right tech setup. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, we can guarantee that you are losing out on new customers. And if you haven’t done any SEO work in the last few years, it’s time to level up your search game so that the right people can find you when they need you. 

Let’s dive into each one of these three a little deeper. 

Content is King

It’s true, on so many levels. What you say — and what you don’t say — on your website is communicating who you are, what you do, and why you are the perfect answer to a prospect’s problem. 

Do you know your typical buyer's journey and how it progresses for your industry? Do you address your prospect’s primary problems? Can you prospect read your “Services” page and walk away understanding what it is that you provide? And does it clearly state how you are differentiated from your competitors? 

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then your site needs a content overhaul. 

Make it skimmable.
Remember: everyone skims websites. You need to make your headlines specific. Be intentional about your word choice, demonstrating that you know the industry… but also that you are easy to understand and not so jargony that your readers need to consult Urban Dictionary to parse your paragraphs. Skip the large, long, overly-detailed blocks of text. Go for bold, easy-to-see call-outs that communicate your priorities. Think CliffsNotes, not Shakespeare. 

Follow standard naming practices.
The pages you select to feature on your primary page hierarchy should be relevant to everyone who might visit: products, services, about us, contact us. Don’t bury them amidst 18 other pages that are somewhat important, but not relevant to the sales funnel. And follow an expected navigation structure: don’t get so clever in the name of innovation that people don’t know where to go next for the info they need. 

Build credibility.
Absolutely call out testimonials and prominent client logos — especially if they are from highly recognizable firms in your industry. This social proof can give your brand the boost it needs to be seen as capable, reliable, and trustworthy. 

Highlight your target market.
If you have main target markets, call them out explicitly in your main navigation. Most prospects want to know that you understand their industry and can speak to their issues directly, rather than have to cobble together an add-on solution to make something fit. 

Design With Ease in Mind

In an ideal world, a customer could land on your website and know it was yours even if your brand’s name wasn’t front and center. Using consistent color, fonts, images, and illustrations throughout the site that convey an already-established aesthetic is ideal. This keeps a prospect from getting distracted by too much of everything, and allows them to focus on what you offer to them. That said, if every page looks exactly the same, they’re going to get bored. Use those cohesive details to allow for variations between different sections, providing visual interest among the united design elements. 

Make it an extension of your brand.
Your design should fit your brand. If it doesn’t, it’s going to create a dissonance between what people already know about you and what they expect from your online presence. Consistent colors are just one thing, but if your brand is a traditional, straight-laced provider of classic components for a storied industry… maybe don’t go with tie-dyed backsplashes and lots of flash animation. Stick with what you know: a sleek, straightforward design that stands the test of time — just like your brand. 

Likewise, if your brand is known for fun, custom offerings, a website with as much minimalist uniformity as Apple’s is going to give the wrong impression from the first landing page. 

Leverage whitespace.
Don’t underestimate the importance of whitespace. Your customer needs enough information to decide to get a quote or contact you, but not so much that they feel talked out of their own interest. White space on a website gives the prospect a chance to breathe as they make a big decision and will lower the automatic bounce rate by not over-taxing your prospect. Use animation to elevate the site, not distract from underperforming copy or lackluster images. 

Get people to convert.
The next steps for a prospect should be obvious: make sure you have clear and consistent Calls to Action (CTAs) across the site. 

Focus on the most compelling service or product.
Perhaps most importantly, from a design perspective, is what your website chooses to prioritize. It can say everything about your business… or it can make sure your lead offering — that primary product or service you have decided holds the most value for a prospect — is the visual highlight of the site. It should stand out amongst the products and services you offer, making sure prospects know the highest and best value that your brand can bring to their business. 

Look like a market leader.
Your website design should portray your company as a market leader. For many prospects, their first visit to your website is their first impression of your company. If the site demonstrates a lack of attention to detail like low-quality images, broken links, or design elements that aren’t consistent from page-to-page, your prospects may not trust that you’ll pay attention to the details they need you to in order to provide a top-notch service. 

Be distinctive.
Lastly, your design should absolutely not mimic that of a competitor. Make sure it’s distinct, memorable, and in service of your ideal customer. 

Get the Tech Right

Mobile first is a priority.
There is almost no excuse to not have a mobile-friendly website in today’s world (unless the excuse is that you don’t want to attract new customers!). Nearly 60% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, and if your website isn’t user-friendly on a smartphone or tablet, prospects will not push through to get the info they need — they’ll head somewhere else that feels up-to-date and relevant. 

Start with SEO in Mind.
In a similar vein, your site should be set up to be search friendly. SEO rankings can’t be an afterthought in today’s market, so building a website needs to have search in mind from the very beginnings of the design process. You’ll need to make sure your meta tags are complete, your images have alt text so that they are viewable in search results as well, and that you scrub your site for broken links, broken buttons, and 404 errors on a regular basis. 

Be fast. 
Another key component of having a user-friendly site is that it loads quickly and efficiently. Focusing on a killer design without considering the site speed can become a traffic killer instead. Make sure your images are large enough to be clear and crisp, but not so large that they take a minute each to load. No one has time for that in today’s crowded marketplace. 

Fine-Tune Your Best Salesperson 

And that’s really the last point we need to get across here: 

Your website should be supporting your sales team — not the other way around.

If your website is too cluttered, too difficult to navigate, or not user-friendly, it’s going to cause even more work for your sales team. If your website can’t filter out unqualified leads by providing the right information for prospects to self-select off your list, your sales team will be fielding extra phone calls, spending time tracking down leads that don’t go anywhere, and explaining your services to fill in the gaps where your website fails. 

Do your sales team a favor: start your next web design project with a great web user experience in mind.

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