What is user experience?
You could think of a user’s first visit to your website as a first date. This encounter will set the first impressions and if it goes well there may be future dates, which could eventually turn into a meaningful business/customer relationship. So as with any first date – you want your visitor to leave with a positive first impression after being suitably wooed.
User experience is one of the most critical factors in creating that positive first impression of your website. Being aesthetically pleasing does of course have a part to play in generating great impressions of your brand however a beautiful looking website which is difficult to actually use and find your way around will still inevitably lead to a poor experience for the user. Ease of use is the most important aspect of user experience – this in combination with a good look makes for a great, lasting impression of your website and company as a whole.
What’s in it for you?
Before going to all the effort of giving your website visitor a fantastic experience you may want to know exactly what’s in it for you. Well as mentioned, a good first encounter will greatly increase the likelihood of further visits to your website and the key thing to remember here is that there are usually multiple stages in the customer action process.
Your potential future customers will almost certainly go through a consideration stage before actually taking any action such as making a purchase or contacting you for further information on your services. And increasingly your website will be the first port of call for customers in the consideration stage before progressing on to some sort of action.
Put simply – your customers are much more likely to take action that’s beneficial to your business, such as making a direct purchase or initiating a relationship by contacting you if you help them along in the consideration stage by making your website a pleasant place to visit and get any information which they may need to help them in their considerations.
Making things easy
We keep talking about making things easy for your visitors but how is that actually done? The most central factor is your website navigation, which is commonly done via menus. Your navigational menus need to be immediately noticeable and accessible to visitors whichever page of your website they happen to be on.
If you are making full use of your website then it’s likely that you will be wanting your visitors to do more than just flick through various pages on the site - you will want them to interact by doing practical things such as fill in forms, create and login to accounts or you may just want to direct them to a specific page containing special offers or company news as soon as possible.
Making things easy also has a huge part to play here – if you want somebody to do something, make it easy for them! Us human beings are always keen to avoid too much hard work. If you want someone to fill in a form make it easy to get to and as short and simple as you can whilst still getting all the information that you need. If you want someone to go to a special offers page display an attention grabbing link to it on the home page.
People are much more likely to do the things that you want them to if you place it right in front of their faces with clear instructions – this sounds incredibly simple but it's very easy to get so lost in making your website look great that user experience gets neglected. A combination of a fantastic look and great usability is the best recipe for a winning website no matter what type of business you are.