When a user lands on your website – whether they find you via organic search, a PPC ad, social media or directly – they begin a journey.
As the brand, you control that journey. The factors you have chosen will determine how positive that journey is.
The aim, of course, is a seamless, enjoyable user experience; with the end result being the user performs your desired action (for example, purchasing a product, or requesting a quote).
Here, we discuss exactly what user experience is, how it relates to usability, and the steps you can take to make your user’s journey a positive one.
What is user experience?
Abbreviated to UX, user experience is a process used by design teams, to build websites that are both meaningful and relevant to users.
UX typically integrates aspects of branding, design, usability and function, whilst showcasing a brand’s product/services.
Usability vs user experience
Usability is defined by ISO as “the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments”.
The aim of usability is to make a website easy to use, whereas user experience relates to making the user happy and content before, during and after using a website.
They are both tightly intertwined, with website user experience considering usability. Nevertheless, they are ultimately two different things. Think of it as these two questions:
- UX: Did the user have as good an experience as possible when using our website?
- Usability: Can the user accomplish their goal on our website as easily as possible?
Important aspects to consider in your user experience strategy
When implementing a successful UX strategy, it’s important to consider these three things:
- Why: What are the users’ motivations for wanting to purchase a product or service? Perhaps it’s in line with their values, or it will enable them to complete a task they wish to perform.
- What: This considers both the functionality and features of a product or service.
- How: This relates to the design of functionality, making it as accessible and aesthetically pleasing as possible.
Think about the iPhone. It wasn’t designed purely with consumption in mind. The entire process, from acquiring to owning and even troubleshooting has been carefully thought out, to create a positive experience for the customer.
UX is closely interlinked to SEO. In fact, an excellent user experience is imperative for SEO, as ranking factors such as bounce rates, dwell time and click-through rates are dependent on the experience a user has when visiting your website.
When it comes to implementing your own website user experience strategy, make sure you consider these five points:
1. Site speed and mobile experience
Site speed is non-negotiable for a good user experience, and you should have a particular focus on the user’s mobile experience – after all, 73% of UK internet usage in 2018 was from mobile devices.
53% of mobile users will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load, yet the average page load time is 19 seconds on 3G, and 14 seconds on 4G.
Sites that load in five seconds enjoy 70% longer average user sessions, and 35% lower bounce rate – suggesting that the user’s experience is a positive one.
2. Target your personas
By understanding what your customers’ wants, needs and frustrations are, you can design a website that’s tailored to them.
Clearly signpost to pages that customers will want to read, and provide easy access to reviews, prices, product comparisons, and anything else you know they will want to see.
3. Consistency is key
Your brand guidelines are there for a reason. Consistency in font, colouring, button styles, heading sizes, images, spacing and all other design elements are crucial for a good website user experience.
If you’re not sure what will work best, then you can A/B split test to see what generates the best results. For example, you may test out the action messaging and colour of CTA buttons.
You’re taking your customer on a journey, so it’s important that all pages are consistent so they know without question they are still on your site. If pages are drastically different, then it can get very confusing – and that makes for a poor experience; where users start considering pressing the back button and leaving your site.
Ultimately, your customer’s website user experience directly contributes to their brand experience, and therefore their perceptions of your brand. By enabling a positive user experience, you can encourage higher levels of brand trust and loyalty.
4. Avoid 404s
404s really aren’t ideal from a UX point of view, as it can really put off the user. If you’re on a website and are faced with a 404 error, with no option to click through to another relevant page, then of course you’re going to bounce back.
If you’re on a website where you constantly hit 404 error pages, then you’re unlikely to ever visit that website again. Making users repeatedly hit a brick wall is going to completely disrupt their journey on your website.
To stop this from happening, crawl your website on a monthly basis so you can spot any 404 errors as they arise, and 301 redirect them to a relevant page.
5. Make the process smooth and simple
A positive journey is one that’s smooth and seamless. Fast site speed and consistency are both contributing factors, but you need to think about the basics too.
Highlight key information with bullet points, break text up with subheadings, and ensure images used resonate with customers – avoid using stock images wherever possible. Titles should be well-written and eye-catching, and hyperlinks should be highlighted, so users know where to click to continue their journey.
At the heart of user experience, is of course the user. Encompassing the entire journey; if you can interlink your brand, content and design together; you’re enabling the user to have a positive experience on your website, encouraging them to purchase your products and services.
You can also take UX one step further and extend it into experiential marketing , where users continue the journey offline, like our BT Stand Up to Cancer campaign.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can create and execute an effective user experience strategy, then get in touch – we’d love to help. Alternatively, for the latest news in branding, design and marketing, head on over to our blog.