Do you feel your website could be giving you better results?
If your website really isn’t delivering what you’d expect and you’re getting plenty of traffic, it’s time to cast an eye toward your user experience. Does your website user experience truly suck?
User experience (or UX) refers to the experience a user has when interacting with your website. UX design aims to enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty, usability and ease of use. It is something that often evolves over time through user testing and website updates.
The thing is, if user experience is bad, no amount of marketing will repair your results. People come to your website, they get frustrated and they leave. The bottom line for small businesses is that you can waste a lot of money if a poor user experience isn’t fixed.
So, what should you be on the lookout for? Here are some common user experience issues:
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#1. Missing the point upfront
Have you ever landed on a website then been thoroughly confused over what they’re actually about? Perhaps you make the effort to scroll or click a little further, but many website users will not.
A lot of businesses absolutely flood their websites with text, imagery and multimedia elements, but that’s not necessarily what someone wants to see upfront. They want to know the bare bones. “We build WordPress websites for small businesses,” or “We create Facebook marketing campaigns for B2B companies” – these are examples of getting right to the point.
That other content – the videos, the text and imagery is useful in a supporting role. This means that once people understand what you do, they then look for the how’s and the why’s.
A related UX mistake is when companies try to be a bit too clever with their messaging. Maybe they’re trying to be cute and unique, but this often gets lost in translation. The key to remember here is that a complete stranger should understand what you’re about within seconds. In fact, an assessment of the visual appeal of your website can be made within 50 milliseconds…
#2. Confusing layout or site navigation
Every person who lands on your website takes some type of journey with it. For some, it will be to almost immediately click away, while others may try to go further. Importantly, you want people to take the path that achieves the goals you have for the website.
A key tip is that if you want people to take that route, it should be obvious! If we take landing pages as an example, the best pages have one goal and are set up to effectively support it (“sign up here” or something similar).
Your website as a whole will be broader than a landing page, but it should make it clear where people are supposed to go and where they can find the information they need. Confusing site navigation or even too many choices can overwhelm people and lead them away.
This is an area where user testing a website can provide valuable insights. Do random users go exactly where you’d expect them to? Can they find what they’re looking for or do they end up confused?
A second tip is to monitor which pages on your website are the most popular and ensure you optimize those pages. For example, this Hubspot article emphasizes the importance of Home, About, Blog and Contact pages. These represent some of the most popular pages on any website.
#3. Slow load speeds
The load speed of your web pages can have a real impact on users. A decade or more ago, we were used to having to wait for things to load. If there were just a few images on a page it could take a long time, but we waited because that was the norm back then.
These days, expectations of speed are much higher. We know how quickly a high-performing website can load, so we tend to lack patience for slow speeds. Many people will simply give up when a page doesn’t load as quickly as they’d like.
Google Webmasters emphasizes the importance of load speeds as a ranking factor. Google looks at factors that impact user experience because they want to deliver the best results possible to those searching. So if your website is slow, you can be hit with a double-whammy. Not only do people who find you leave, but Google penalizes your site in search results.
Some factors that can impact load speeds include:
- Use of images that haven’t been appropriately compressed for the web
- Poor website coding
- Plugins or add-ons running cumbersome scripts
- Overloaded servers
- Website redirects
With regard to mobile page load speeds, Google produced the graphic below which is worth paying attention to:
#4. Poor mobile experience
Not so long ago, having a website optimized for mobile usage was optional – it’s now a necessity. The problem is that there are still a lot of business websites out there that haven’t caught up!
In 2018, mobile share of website visits was at 52.2% globally. In some regions, that figure was even higher, with Asia at 65.1%. You can see from Statista’s graphic below that mobile share shows a pattern of growth year after year:
If a mobile user lands on your website then finds that they can’t easily navigate it, or they have to pinch or expand screens to navigate, that creates a poor experience.
To check your website, Google offers a free mobile-friendly test where you simply enter the URL of the website you’d like to test.
#5. Important information missing or hard to find
Let’s say you’re looking to buy something – what information do you need to know before finally handing over payment? There might be things like warranties, guarantees, information on how the product is constructed, what it includes, whether you can return it…
Where important information is missing or hard to find, it creates a poor user experience. This can be compounded even further by not having good “help” or “contact” functions in place. For example, an ecommerce site might set up a chat system so that people can immediately ask a question as they go.
If we look at potential website goals other than making a sale, such as getting people to opt-in to your email list, they still need key questions answered. Critically, it’s about the benefits to the customer! “What’s in it for me?” should be answered on every business website.
To avoid this situation, take a step back and list the critical questions that a website visitor may need answered. Start with these when you’re piecing together the information required, and consider how you will make it easy to find. As an example, warranties or return policies might be linked on every product page.
#6. Opt-ins not used strategically
Did you know that the majority of first-time visits to a website do not end in a sale? One study found that around 92% of consumers will visit a brand’s website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase (for example, comparing products or services).
One of the best ways to get that sale in the future is to ensure you can follow up with the visitor. Having an opt-in form so that you can sign them up for email marketing from your company is a good way of doing that, and yet, many business websites don’t have one!
If you don’t have a way of opting people in, quite simply, you’re leaving money on the table. Effective follow-up is a time-honored sales technique and you don’t have that option. From a user’s perspective, people like to be kept updated on things they’re interested in!
The second part of this from a user experience perspective is where opt-ins are used, but they’re either hard to use, hard to find or far too prevalent! For example, barriers to using a sign-up form might include asking for too much information or a form that hasn’t been optimized for mobile use.
Some businesses go overboard with pop-ups all over the place. It’s not that pop-ups never work – they have their place when done right and can convert quite well. User experience falls down when those pop-ups are perceived as too invasive or spammy. There is nothing more irritating when you’re trying to read a piece of content than having a pop-up repeatedly in your face.
#7. Website content fails to engage
There can be any number of reasons for which website content is the culprit behind a poor user experience. Here are some of those:
- There is so much content on key pages that it is overwhelming. Blog posts and articles are expected to be heavy on content, but on pages such as the Home page and other informational pages, people want to be able to digest information quickly.
- Content formatting is difficult to read. Big chunks of text are hard to read and tiresome. The point is often lost somewhere in a sea of words. Be careful of layout too – some choppy layouts also make content difficult to follow.
- The content is boring! One of the best ways to engage your audience through content is to understand who they are and what will appeal to them.
- Lack of clarity about what to do next. Each page on your website should have a clear purpose. Calls to action should be clear and easy to follow. On landing pages, try to have CTAs “above the fold” so that people don’t have to scroll to find them.
- The content is spammy. People are turned off by irrelevant ads and poorly written “fluff” content.
The underlying solution is that all content should be purposeful on your site. Consider the goals for your website overall and for each individual page, then craft content to serve those goals.
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User experience is everything when it comes to having a successful business website. If your website is getting reasonable traffic but still failing to get results, it may be time to take a serious look at your user experience.
A website should be easy for visitors to use and visually appealing. It should serve up information that is clear, formatted well and easy to find. The website should also perform well technically so that the experience is smooth.
User testing is a handy way to figure out any issues with your user experience. It can be very much worth the investment to get better results.