Visiting the average site these days can feel a bit like visiting your local store, you expect to find all the basics and bare essentials efficiently and effortlessly.
You expect clearly labelled and brightly lit aisles, with a range of products to choose from so diverse you find yourself mulling over trivial details like which packaging would be easier to open with your teeth. You imagine fresh pies would be available at lunchtime, and you presume that you’ll find the chutney with the tabasco.
Imagine the confusion of finding yourself in a convenience store dressed like a hardware store, with the fire-lighters and charcoal at opposite ends of the shop, the wine racks stacked with semi-skimmed milk and the salad bar selling the kind of confectionaries that would make a fat kid’s day.
And you’re standing in the aisle labelled “Cereal” with nothing but 10 varieties of muesli to choose from and all you want is cornflakes.
This is what we call “bad user-experience”.
Your site has a lot in common with stores. And it doesn’t have to be an e-commerce site to apply. Getting the right kind of site visitors to your site is only the beginning of a successful and prominent web presence.
Once you have the ideal visitor on your site, you need to keep them there, you need to guide them to some sort of end point and turn targeted visitors into converting visitors, generating you leads that may turn them into clients or returning customers.
This is usually best achieved by a sound online marketing plan (like Adwords) backed with stable SEO.
But there are a couple of basics that any website should have in place before this can happen. Below, I’m going to touch on UI features every site should have covered like white on rice. Does your site pass the check list?
1. Simple, Intuitive Layout, Design & Navigation
First of all, before we even think of content, let’s consider layout and design.
Do your visitors know where to find things? Like your:
- Contact details
- Newsletter subscription form
- Quote and contact forms
- Search tool
- Online Support
Your visitors should experience no frustration finding the above. There are a lot of variables to consider depending on the type of site you may have, but these site features should be simple to navigate too, usually within as fewer clicks as possible.
If the steps are more involved, you’ll need to break it up into simple steps, plainly guiding the user in every step of the process.
Do your visitors know what to do when they need to do it?
So you get a potential client or customer to the contact page or sign-up page. Great! But hang on there, we can’t consider it a success until they convert. This is where most sites actually loose potential business.
These pages tend to exhibit the highest drop-off rate than generic pages and it usually comes down to the most inane and overlooked details.
Altering the design is the most effective and simplest approach.
Changing your pricing table structure and layout or minimizing user options on a checkout page can make the decisions for site visitors plain, simple and intuitive to make.
Keep it clean, minimalistic and uncluttered
- Keep your navigation simple, utilize breadcrumbs for sub-pages
- Your menu drop-downs shouldn’t go more than 2 levels deep
- Content should be relevant to the page and easy on the eyes
- Above-fold content structure and layout should be considered, especially in the case of your converting pages
- Don’t underestimate the aesthetic value of font and design, eye-catching call-to-actions and how we distinguish important information from nonspecific information
Users ignore design that ignores users.
2. Support & Improve
If site visitors are signing up to your site there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to do certain things once they do. Whether it’s uploading listings or classifieds, purchasing or renting items online, or interacting with other users. Don’t lose them because they have no one to turn too when they can’t figure something out.
Support and feedback forms can bring great value to your users and great insight for you. Shedding light on areas to improve and identifying user frustrations that may have been initially taken for granted or looked over.
3. Now let’s consider content
- Does it bring value to your page and site visitors?
- Does it have a clear function, role or purpose?
- Can it increase conversions, page rank or user experience in any way?
- Is it easy to manage and update?
- Is your content prioritized for above and below-fold layouts, is it SEO friendly?
- Does it autoplay?
- Is it blinking, flashing and/or popping-up when the user doesn’t expect it?
- Is it slowing down the time it takes for your page to render/load?
- Is the option already available on the page? (social sharing prompts in particular)
- Is it broken?