With all of the emphasis on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) it is easy for novice website owners to forget about the most important aspect of their site – ‘the user’.
After all, it doesn’t matter if you’re number one in Google, if your visitors don’t find value on your site, they will not stay and will not return. SEO merely gets people to come in. However, your “hospitality” or user experience will determine how long they stay, and if they ever come back.
When your users come to your website, you want them to feel as if everything works great, it’s intuitive. As if you can read their mind. The first thing to do is research your audience and then test out different ideas based on the research.
The good news about creating a positive user experience is that-unlike SEO, you don’t really need the advice of outside experts. You know what types of sites draw you in and make you want to add them to your favourites. You also know what type of sites have you quickly pressing the back button.
Just in case you are still wondering what really makes a good site stand out, the following tips will guide you in improving your website’s user experience.
ONE: Showcase an Attractive Design
Before a visitor reads the first word on your site they are taking in the overall design of the site to see if it grabs their interest. Does it have visual impact? Is it unique? If the site were a room would you want to hang out in it? These are all important questions to ask about your site. And it is a good idea to have others visit and give you their honest opinions.
TWO: Improve Website Load Speed
If your site takes less than a couple seconds to load, you’re golden. If it takes longer than a couple of seconds, people will not stick around to find out what is on your website. Likewise, if you’ve created software or other things for your audience it needs to work, and it should work fast if you want them to enjoy their user experience.
THREE: Optimize Your Menu Options
Too many choices will confuse visitors and probably make them not want to come back. Instead, lower your menu options on your homepage and use landing pages you’ve created especially for a particular audience to share with your audience in bios and elsewhere.
FOUR: Clarify Point of View
You want your visitors to be clear about what your site is trying to say within 10 seconds. If your site is about the artwork created during WWII, make sure that is made abundantly clear on your homepage. If your visitors are not sure what your site is even about why would they feel inclined to stay and explore?
FIVE: Use Leading Imagery
If you want your audience to look at something, lead their eyes toward it with visuals and directional imagery like arrows – or even a winding road that seems to point toward where you want them to go. Images and video also help provide depth and make your content stand out. They also give the reader some options. Since you have such a short time to impress your visitors, creating immediate visual interest and giving visitors some navigation choices is recommended.
SIX: Show Internal Links and Recent Posts
After every blog post or article your audience reads, they should be led via internal linking within or under the last paragraph of the post. Tell them that if they loved this information, they’ll love this other information too.
Your visitor may also have reached your site through a link to a specific post. It is your job to present other interesting options to keep him or her on your site. Be sure to use creative and interesting titles for your posts. This will increase your chances of getting extra clicks from your visitors.
SEVEN: Check Your Sign-Up Process
Periodically review your sign-up process and the technology that exists to see if you can make the sign-up process simpler. For example, you can deliver a freebie to your audience without the double opt-in process, even though they’re going to be added to your list by adding the request for permission on the sign-up form.
Remember that the fewer steps your viewer and potential customer needs take on a call of action, the better. If something can be accomplished in one click, that’s how it needs to be done.
EIGHT: Double Check Your Checkout Process
If your website has an e-commerce element, you need to offer a seamless checkout process. Go through checkout as if you’re a customer so that you can ensure that it runs smoothly. Don’t ask for too much information. And remember to put the customer’s needs before your needs. The smoother the process is, the more likely it is that your customer will finish the transaction. In the process cutting down on abandoned carts.
NINE: Categorize Your Content
If your site covers a broad niche, and contains content that falls under a few different categories, be sure to include category links in your navigation menu. This quickly tells visitors what they will find on your site. And it allows them to navigate to a category that interests them with a single click.
The most important question to regularly ask yourself is “If I stumbled upon my site, would I find it interesting?” Make sure the answer is always a resounding yes!
TEN: Ask for Feedback
If you already have an audience, set up an autoresponder to poll your customers within a few days of purchase about how they felt about the website, the process, and so forth. Incentivize them with a coupon or a free product.
Every successful online entrepreneur has made mistakes in their business at some time or another. It’s all part of the learning process. Although mistakes are going to happen, you can avoid a number of common business mistakes. Download your 10 Most Common Online Business Mistakes free checklist.