So many guides on user experience (UX) focus solely on your website’s design. While a central pillar of UX considerations, there’s more to delivering stunning UX than attractive website design. Here are 10 Tips to Enhance Your Site’s User Experience.
1. Focus on Usability Before Design
It’s easy to put all your focus on bells and whistles when it comes to your website, whether undergoing a redesign or making tweaks to your existing site.
You might have a raft of exciting design features and interactive elements, and be using plug-ins that personalise what your site visitors see.
Yet, if your visitors can’t make a purchase or complete a contact form, what’s the use in all those features? Some elements might even “break” your website entirely!
The best way to deliver outstanding UX is to focus on basic functionality first, alongside design foundations such as layout and colour schemes.
Once your website is easy to use and works, you can then start to add those bells and whistles.
When you start to add these extra features, do so one at a time if possible. This approach will enable you to identify the impact adding new features has on your overall UX.
You’ll also be able to check how changes influence your page speed and mobile-friendliness.
2. Work on Your Site Speed
If you rely on organic traffic from Google to sustain your website, and your page speed performance is poor, you might not need to worry about how your page speed impacts UX.
Still, that’s because you’ll get very few visitors from Google search in the first place, so it’s something you will want to improve.
Identifying and fixing page speed issues is easy to do:
- Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get your current page speed performance score across the desktop and mobile versions of your site.
- Scroll down the results to view your performance for specific metrics and get suggestions for how to improve.
- If you use Google Tag Manager and other tools that involve embedding code onto your pages, these can have a significant impact on page speed. Remove any code or tracking pixels for tools or campaigns no longer in use.
- Depending on how you manage your website, fix the issues yourself or hire a developer to complete the updates for you. The beauty of getting the problems from the tool is that you don’t need any technical knowledge to brief a developer. You can send them to the results page for your site on PageSpeed Insights, and their action plan is ready and waiting!
Unnecessary bells and whistles are often the most significant barrier to a high page speed score. Still, you might need to consider changing web hosting plans or taking other steps to ensure your site runs quicker.
Google’s future Page Experience Update will place an additional premium on your site speed.
3. Ensure Your Responsive Design Works
As well as checking your page speed, Google also has a tool for checking the mobile-friendliness of your website. As of September 2020, Google is committing to the roll-out of mobile-first indexing for the whole web.
This means Google will assess the mobile version of websites, even for desktop search rankings.
If you don’t already use responsive design or have a standalone mobile version of your site, it’s time to invest in one. Responsive design is the best approach to take as you have the same design on each platform.
With a responsive design, your page layout changes depending on the size of the screen the viewer is using.
The best thing you can to enhance your website’s UX is to keep checking how mobile friendly your site is, especially if you add or change design elements.
4. Harness the Power of White Space
One of the most common mistakes website owners make is to fill their pages with as much content as possible. This is often because of an understandable desire to get as much content as possible above the fold.
While having content above the fold is a crucial SEO factor, bombarding your website visitors with copy doesn’t deliver UX that people will remember fondly.
Several studies have shown that harnessing white space can bring many benefits, including:
- Allowing you to highlight essential elements on your page by showcasing them in space.
- Improves customer attention and comprehension by up to 20%.
- Enhanced customer trust and satisfaction with your brand and website.
If you’re already satisfied with your web design, it’s easy to have a developer write a script to add an extra line break between each paragraph or image on your website.
You can trial adding white space and its impact on your metrics for a month. You might even A/B test different pieces of content with varying elements of white space and analyse which one performs best.
5. Define a Purpose and Make it Obvious What You Want Users to Do
What is the purpose of your website?
Your website can have a sole purpose or a variety of aims, which might include:
- Attracting leads.
- Gathering data.
- Building an email marketing list.
- Providing high-value information to users.
- Selling products.
How you do each of these things may differ for traffic that comes from different sources. For example, you might develop a specific landing page to share on social media or to include within your email newsletters.
Defining your website’s purpose sounds like an obvious thing to do, yet so many websites are just “there,” with no precise aim or a call to action.
In addition to knowing what your website is for, you need to make that purpose evident to your visitors.
A good mantra to adopt is to think about the stupidest possible person who might visit your website. If you want them to buy something or submit a contact form, how do they know that?
What are you doing to make that clear and obvious? When it’s obvious what you want visitors to do, how easily can they do it?
Considering these factors will force you to look at your website differently. It can have a significant impact on your UX.
6. Be Smart with Images
While images are an essential component of UX and a crucial driver of engagement, your pictures also have the power to turn users away from your website quickly.
In many cases, an image is the first element a user will interact with on your website. The first thing they’ll do is make a judgment on how authentic and trustworthy you’re likely to be. First impressions count!
The biggest killer with these measures in mind is stock photography. It’s easy to spot a generic, staged photo of two people shopping for a car versus a genuine couple looking around a dealership.
Rightly or wrongly, people who spot such imagery as fake and inauthentic will attach the same connotations to your website and brand.
Although many top-quality stock image websites provide both free and paid for images, nothing connects to your brand and tells a story like a genuine picture.
Studies have even shown that real imagery can increase online conversions. What better than a UX enhancement with such a tangible potential outcome?!
7. Adopt a Super Critical Pair of Eyes on Your Homepage
Check out your landing pages and page views reports in Google Analytics. What do you see?
Your homepage might not necessarily be your most frequently visited page from a landing page perspective. However, it will almost definitely be your most visited page.
Look at your homepage through a critical set of eyes. What is your homepage?
- Introduce your business, and what do you do?
- Make the purpose of your website clear?
- Make it evident to a visitor what you want them to do?
- Allow users to start or continue their journey through your website in a way that will lead to them doing what they want them to?
You don’t need to include everything on your homepage, or at least have everything above the fold.
Most websites that deliver outstanding UX have a clean design with straightforward header navigation from the homepage to, as a minimum, commercial pages, your about us page, and a contact page.
Links to resources and blog content are fine to go in the footer if you’re looking to use white space to highlight the most important pages or sections of your website.
8. Be Consistent Across Your Website
Users should always feel like they’re on your website. If there are changes to things like layouts, fonts, and colours across your pages, your visitors will wonder if they’re in the right place.
Even if they can make sense of what’s going on, the chances are they’ll leave. Furthermore, they probably won’t return.
If your website is professionally designed and you use developers to maintain it, you shouldn’t have a problem ensuring consistency.
In contrast, if using a website builder and managing your site yourself, you may be tempted to use different fonts and colours on various pages.
You need to ensure you have the discipline not to do this. If you’re building your first website or planning a redesign, take some time to play around with your website builder and try out different layouts and other elements. Settle on something you like, then stick to it.
9. Stay on Top of 404s and Other Issues
Google has long maintained that 404 errors, where pages on your website aren’t available, will not have much negative impact from an SEO perspective. However, it is unlikely your website users will be so forgiving.
Picture the scene. Someone on your website finally found the thing they’ve been looking to buy for their children. They click on the picture on your website, only to find the page doesn’t work.
Now, you might get lucky and be the only place this visitor can buy the thing they’re looking for. However, you might also be one of several websites selling this product.
If the customer can’t buy it from you, they’ll quickly go elsewhere.
A 404 page doesn’t have to mean disaster. You should use the custom 404 error page to keep users engaged and redirect them elsewhere.
The best way to deal with 404 pages is to manage your website in such a way that you minimise their occurrence in the first place. If you make any URL changes, set up 301-redirects from the old to the new URL.
If you have internal links to the old URL, change the link rather than having an internal 301. Remember, this may involve changing navigation links as well as in-copy links.
Google Search Console provides a report highlighting 404s as well as 500 server errors. Tools like Screaming Frog can crawl through your website and highlight any internal links that lead to 404 pages.
10. Ensure Your Entire Site is “On-Brand”
Your website is your online representation of your brand. As such, your site must reflect who you are as a business as possible. If you’re a serious company, your website should reflect this.
Likewise, if your company stands for fun and excitement, your website might be more light-hearted.
Try not to get caught up in embracing the latest design trends or installing the latest plug-in or widget if it doesn’t enhance your site’s branding.
If you have other means of interacting with customers, such as a physical store or offices that clients visit, remember that everything needs to align to the same values.
If the brand experience on your website doesn’t match the experience a customer gets in your shop, in the future, they’ll shop with a brand that delivers that feeling of consistency.
Enhancing Your Site’s UX
Enhancing your site’s UX has the potential to affect everything from your conversions to your SEO performance.
How does your site perform against these ten measures? Create a checklist to ask yourself what you can do to improve and make a visit to your website an even better experience.
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Jann is a content writer at top10-websitehosting.co.uk. She is committed to providing all you need to know about technology along with researching and analysing the best hosting providers.
Also published on Medium.