What is User Experience?
A user’s experience (UX) is the way a user experiences and interacts with an application, platform, website, product, or service.
When it comes to UX, there are a few points to be taken into consideration. All users should base their experience on:
- How useful a platform or product is to them.
- How easy it is to navigate.
- How quick it is for them to find what they’re looking for.
- Whether the guidance they need is available.
The main goal of great UX is to offer users the easiest path toward a favorable action, be it completing a task or buying a product.
Why Does It Matter?
Great UX can nurture customer loyalty and create desire for potential customers, thanks to its customer-centric practices. Customer-centricity focuses on users’ best interests throughout their customer journey, from the page’s title to every last call-to-action (CTA). In other words, every element on the page is intentionally placed to guide users toward their goals.
On the other hand, when your UX is bad, potential customers are unlikely to come back. Instead of waiting for you to fix your web pages or applications, they can save their time and efforts by choosing a competitor that fulfills their needs.
Tips to Improve UX
Consider Your Target Audience in All Design Decisions
Knowing your target audience by their demographics is great for pinpointing which segments you’ll be marketing to. Data like their age, gender, and income can be helpful to focus your messaging.
However, demographics aren’t the only method you should use to get to know your prospects. There are several questions you must answer if you’d like to join the conversation in your prospects’ heads. Such as:
- What are the main pains and problems they’re currently experiencing?
- Which events have motivated them to seek a product like yours?
- How well do they know about your product or your product category? How much guidance do they need in order to truly understand what your product does for them?
- Do they even know that they need your product, in the first place?
Knowing how users make decisions on your app or website can also go a long way in helping you define your target audience. Do they make decisions faster or slower? When they reach the CTAs on your website, what prevents them from clicking?
Heat mapping tools and user testing tools will allow you to get familiar with visitor’s interaction with your website. Combine your findings with your demographic research, and you’ll be able to make more educated decisions about your target audience.
Clean up the Home Page
(Source: Hubspot Blog)
Some websites haven’t been updated in years, which you can tell by their cluttered homepages.
Surprisingly enough, the above Yahoo homepage isn’t outdated at all. In fact, a recent version of the page. Although Yahoo is a well-known website where you can find a wealth of information about different topics, the homepage is cluttered with news, scoreboards, a weather section, trending topics, and more.
While cramming the highest possible volume of information on a single page may seem like the best solution for indecisive visitors, too many choices can actually paralyze visitors. As a result, they may end up leaving your website.
Especially on the internet, we’re constantly dealing with a choice overload problem. When there are so many options to choose from, we may end up choosing nothing at all.
Author and choice expert Sheena Iyengar decided to do an experiment at an upscale grocery store, in which choices for every product category were plentiful. She found that “people were at least six times more likely to buy a jar of jam if they encountered six than if they encountered 24.”
The less options someone has, the easier it will be for them to make a decision. Think about it: when having to choose between 24 jars of jam, they’d need to first narrow that group down to an easier number. That requires more time, more mindwork, and introduces doubt – and no one wants to waste their time with that.
The solution: cut the fat. Declutter. Narrow down your visitors’ options for them, instead of expecting them to do it themselves. Because they most likely won’t.
For better UX, here are a few additional practical tips:
- If you have multiple products to offer, especially on your homepage, narrow your initial options down to three. Include a CTA visitors can click to see all options, if there are more.
- Remove sidebars on your homepage if you absolutely don’t need them.
- Remove “filler” elements that don’t resonate with the copy on your website.
- Make smart use of white space throughout your pages.
Become a Visual Thinker
Does each of the visual elements of your website drive your visitors closer to their desired action? Becoming a visual thinker will help you answer this question.
When designing a website, it can be easy to get carried away with so many tools and options at your disposal. Still, a lot of elements may not be contributing to the user’s experience.
On a website, every single visual element should support your headlines and your body copy.
Take a look at the above example from Sweatblock, a brand of high-strength antiperspirants. The supporting image of a smiling woman in a white shirt portrays someone who’s no longer bothered by excessive sweat or shirt stains. After wearing Sweatblock, she now feels carefree and confident in her own skin, which makes her smile.
While this may sound obvious to some people, pay attention to the websites you visit. Do the visuals support the copy? You may notice that certain images are simply lazing around, doing no real work to assist the core messages.
Design Blank Slate Pages Better
Think of the moment when you first create a website. Especially if you’re using a new website builder and have no data to populate it, you’ll come across what’s called a blank slate page.
Typically, an application will look and work best when it’s already supplied with data. Before that stage, it’s important that the blank slate is designed with UX in mind. Because, in the words of the Basecamp team, “the overall look and feel (of an application) doesn’t take shape until people enter their data: posts, links, comments, hours, sidebar info, or whatever.”
By designing a better blank slate page that effortlessly guides users on how to use your app, you’ll increase the chances of them sticking with the experience – rather than deciding it’s not a good fit before reaching the good part.
“Unfortunately, the customer decides if an application is worthy at this blank slate stage — the stage when there’s the least amount of information, design, and content on which to judge the overall usefulness of the application,” according to the Treehouse team.
Rethink Your Product Pages
A product page, just like any landing page, should have one goal: to create desire for the products and make people add those products to cart.
When people are buying things online, they may be going out on a limb. They’re trusting product images, product descriptions, and customer reviews so as to purchase an item they’ve never seen in their lives. For this reason, your product pages should work hard to paint a vivid picture of the products you’re selling in the potential customer’s mind.
Take a look at the following example from Allbirds:
Not only is the page sleek and uncluttered, but it includes indispensable elements of a product page:
- The only CTA on the page is “add to cart.” It’s clear, to the point, and it stands out on the page.
- The product description truly paints a picture in the potential customer’s mind with words like “soft” and “lightweight”.
- The product images are high-quality, allowing potential buyers to zoom in and view the product from different angles.
Use the Right Language
If your UX isn’t performing well, have you considered that you may not be using the exact words and phrases your potential customers would use?
The “right” language can mean a lot of different things depending on the business you’re in. If you’re writing for an experienced audience, it might be okay to use jargon and technical language to describe certain products or services you offer.
However, if you’re writing for a general audience, they might not understand what a “sales funnel” is, for instance. You can either adapt your website’s language to match your visitors’ level of awareness and experience, or you can watch them get confused and leave.
With that in mind, you should know that the best messages don’t come from your brain or a marketer’s brain. They come from your customers’ mouths. They come from customer’s answers to your surveys. From their reviews. From their comments. Most importantly, they come from a deep understanding of your visitors and customers.
Reassure Visitors About Safety and Values
Internet users are more prone to cyber attacks than ever. During the COVID-19 pandemic, phishing attacks have soared 220%, and the attacks just keep getting more sophisticated as time goes by.
Plus, it’s getting increasingly difficult to tell real, trustworthy websites from fraudulent websites. F5 Security Operations Center (SOC) statistics tell us that 72% of fraudulent websites are “using valid HTTPS certificates to trick victims”.
Because users generally need to sign up using personal information, they should see your website as a reliable place to do that. The trouble is, saying “trust us” won’t suffice. As the owner of a genuine website, how can you reassure visitors of your legitimacy?
Not only can trust badges and seals encourage visitors to move forward with their decision, but they can also prove to them that moving forward is safe. The more familiar a brand is, the more likely your visitors are to trust you. Think of a McAfee Secure seal versus a generic security seal. According to Yieldify, “brand recognition is important, as it is correlated with the logos that give customers the most reassurance.”
In addition, if customer security is part of your brand’s core values, avoid tucking away those values on an “About Us” page some visitors may never get to read. Of course, you should have an area of your site dedicated to your value and missions, but be sure to state that you value your customers’ security on your primary page.
Reassure Visitors that They’re in the Right Place
Right when visitors land on your website, even if it’s their first time doing it, they need to know:
- Who your product and service is for (and whether it’s suitable for them).
- What your product does, and how it’s different from the competition.
- Whether it matches their current needs and/or pains.
Although it may sound like too many tasks for a headline and a subhead, take a look at how Gillette organizes their messaging:
In just the headline and the subhead, we can tell:
- Who the product and service is for (people, especially men, who shave – particularly those who find it an arduous process).
- What the product does, and how it’s different from the competition (it contains a built-in exfoliation bar).
- Whether it matches someone’s current needs and/or pains (it matches the current pain of shaving while running the risk of dirt and bacteria entering the skin).
Avoid the need to create an introduction before getting to the point. People don’t have time to waste, and they’re one back click away from doing business with someone else. So show them why they should care, right at the top.
Offer Detailed Info to Those Who Seek It
Not everyone will skim or scan a website – not even in 2022. There’s a huge misconception that every single person will look for the shortcuts and the summaries, when in reality, detailed information is crucial for some people’s decision-making process. After all, some people make decisions slowly, by absorbing the largest possible amount of information they can about a product or service.
Blogs, articles, and case studies are great ways to offer detailed information for the visitors who need it. While their full details don’t have to be on your homepage, you can include titles, thumbnails, and brief descriptions to whoever wants to learn more. This way, you won’t be cluttering your homepage with too much data.
Get Rid of ALL Distractions
The copy on your website can also be a source of distraction if you don’t know what to say and how to say it. Copy, too, should make the potential customer’s journey as easy as possible.
If a line of copy isn’t doing any real work to drive potential customers closer to the action they need to take, cut it or reword it. Yes, even if it sounds clever or if it’s written in your brand voice.
Doing this requires that you develop a customer-centric mindset, and that you know how visitors interact with your website. At which point do they stop believing what you’re saying? At which point do they think your copy isn’t worth reading anymore? Again, heat mapping and user testing tools can be useful for this activity.
As easy as the above improvements may be to implement, great UX calls for constant data monitoring, validation, and testing. Keeping an eye on your metrics is the only way to ensure that those improvements are favoring both user experience and conversions.
Depending on your results, you may need to test and re-implement those improvements based on what your specific audience needs to see and hear from you. And that’s fine. After all, users are human beings who are in constant change. Your website or application’s job isn’t to get stuck in a time warp, but rather to accompany and guide users in their journey.