The user experience. Everyone talks about it. Finally. It’s a joy watching the field grow and getting recognized. People are beginning to realize that there is more to online success than having a functional website in place. More even than a high google ranking and good usability. By now, even the smallest company has found its way online, web technologies have evolved drastically, and with that people’s expectations have grown.
Expectations that we need to meet in order to keep up with our competitors, but also with the overall standards people have become used to. In previous articles, we have discussed a series of things you can do to improve the overall user experience of your site – for example, with surprising details, whitespace, or video. Yet, there is so much more you can do.
The user experience is broader than just the design or some other details of your site. Here are 5 essential aspects you should have in place for a good experience.
1. Good findability
Let’s start with a very crucial part of your website. You might argue that this is just too obvious to mention, but there are still too many sites out there that could do better. We’re talking about whether or not people can find you. Obviously, if they can’t, you can stop bothering about your experience right now.
So it all starts with being findable. How you do that is completely up to you, your business, and of course your users. Ask yourself questions like: What are people looking for? How do they look for you? Can they find you there? Or should you go out there looking for them? Make sure you know your target group well to truly understand their needs and motives.
SEO and SEA are certainly a big contributors to good findability. That’s because most people use search engines to find information, products, and companies on the web. Just keep in mind, there are also other ways to draw attention to your site. For example: more traditional, offline strategies.
Usabilla at Emerce eDay
Make sure people can find you, be it online or offline.
At Usabilla, we put a lot of focus on inbound marketing. By providing high quality and useful content to the community, people know to find us and they learn to appreciate Usabilla as a brand. At the same time, we actively reach out to our target group. For example, we recently attended the Emerce eDay, the largest annual e-business conference in the Benelux. Here we met many of our current and potential partners. Once people know your brand, they will find your website.
2. A clear call to action
Once people have found your site, make sure you have a clear idea of what you expect them to do. Of course, your own ambitions shouldn’t be the only ones that matter, and it’s only natural if your ‘user-centered’ alarm goes off now. But we’ll get to that in a minute. For now, let’s focus on you and your agenda.
What is it that you want people to do on your site? Do you want them to read through your content word by word? Do you want them to give you a call to schedule an appointment? Or do you want them to sign up for a newsletter or online account? Either way, don’t keep it to yourself.
The way you structure and present your content, and how you use your design have a big effect on the message you send to your visitors. For example, you can emphasize some aspects while making others appear less salient. A clear call to action can be key to converting your visitors.
The Firefox CTA
Make sure your call to action is salient, clear, and indicates trust.
There are plenty of guidelines for an effective call to action, but there are no rules. Whatever works best for your product, your design, and your users, is allowed. For example, Firefox has a rather simple and plain website with a big, shiny call to action. Besides the fact that the CTA is very bright, it also offers a lot of information, such as the name and language of the product, that it’s a free download, and the logo indicates that it’s a trustworthy Mozilla product. Clearly the main goal of this site is to get people to download the latest version of Firefox.
3. Good usability
Next, there are the goals of your users that you need to keep in mind. What is it they are looking for and how do they go about finding it? Obviously you don’t build a website out of pure kindness, but by also catering to your visitors’ needs, you will also see benefits at the end.
This means by making your website usable, you allow your visitors to reach their own goals – quickly and without much hassle. Ideally their and your goals match and for them reaching a goal equals a conversion for you.
Good usability means your design and navigation structure are clean and clear. Your site is consistent, which means your visitors don’t get confused or lost. Your site is trustworthy and matches your user’s expectations in term of structure and functionality. And your content should be readable – on any device.
Usability of Nike.com
Nike.com makes it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for.
The Nike.com website perfectly illustrates what good usability is all about. Of course, a major goal of the site is to get people to buy stuff. Yet, the website is designed all around the user and their goals. For example, when looking at the navigation of the site, they offer two different starting point. You can either browse their collection by standard categories such as men, women, and children, or you go directly to your favorite sport. Nike understands that people often identify themselves through their sport. For example, this makes “Running” a much more important category than “Men”.
4. The personality factor
Who are you? What makes you special? And why should people trust you?
Questions like these can help you focus on your online credibility. The web is a big and sometimes scary place. To make sure your website doesn’t drown among all the useless and anonymous sites out there, suit up and show some personality.
People are aware that going online means they literally interact with a machine. When visiting a website, they send a request and all they get back is some code translated to a graphical interface by their browser. Let’s be honest, if we look at it like that, the Internet becomes a very sad and cold place – somewhere we’d rather not spend a lot of time.
By making your website more personal you can show that there are real people behind it. The website itself might be mediated, but the content and the interaction that comes with it involves real people. This way, your website not only becomes more credible, but also more attractive.
Your design can help you add personality to your site.
The graphic designer James Garner has done a great job adding personality to his website. His website offers a framework for presenting his work and at the same time it is a portfolio of his creativity itself. Everything you see has “James Garner” written all over it. The style is authentic and very consistent throughout the different sections of the website. This website is anything but technical and anonymous.
5. A lasting impression
Last but not least, it is important to make a lasting impression. It’s great when people can find you. It’s even better if they find their way around your site and reach their goals in a timely manner. But what do you do to make sure they come back? Will they tell their friends about your site, product, or brand?
There are many different ways in which you can create a lasting impression. For example through very special and intriguing design, high quality content, good humor,
or anything that appeals to your visitors.
Heineken – Pic Your Travel
Heineken invites you to share your favorite Heineken picture with the world – and with your friends.
Heineken is known for their humorous and extraordinary ad campaigns. Be it the Walking Fridge, the Departure Roulette, or their latest special for “legendary travelers”, the
Pic Your Travel site – Heineken is all about having a good time with your friends. Sharing is one of their key concepts – sharing experiences and sharing their content.