Improving the user experience of your website

James Cox gives a few tips on making your site as visitor-friendly as possible.

You’ve built your website following all the rules: strong branding, great product information, fantastic surrounding content and enticing offers. It looks fantastic too. But your conversion rates are frustratingly low. Sounds familiar? Maybe it’s time to look at the user (visitor) journey your site offers.

Steve Krug, user experience guru and author of Don’t Make Me Think, says the key to successful user journeys lies in understanding the time-poor nature of visitors to your site: ‘Designers love subtle cues, because subtlety is one of the traits of sophisticated design. But Web users are generally in such a hurry that they routinely miss subtle cues.’

We may think that subtlety is both clever and cool. We may like the idea of doing things differently, of creating a website that doesn’t ram product-centric messaging in the visitor’s face. However, in doing this we are forgetting that users don’t want this. In fact, they want the opposite.

Visitors to you site are looking to find the information they need as efficiently as possible. They don’t want to have to think about where the information might be. To help them, you need to ensure that the information architecture (how you structure the content of your website) is simple and that on each page visitors can clearly see where they are, what their options are and what you want them to do next.

Use ‘calls-to-action’ as signposts

The ‘call-to-action’ is a really great way to help the visitor know where to go next on your site (and is vital in boosting conversion rate). Include one on every core page. Examples include: ‘sign-up to our newsletter’, ‘download our guide’, ‘book a demo’, or ‘call us now’. It is also a good idea to add a ‘what to do now’ message, banner or button to your key pieces of content. Not only are you helping the visitor navigate your site more easily and quickly, use it to ask for the users’ contact information.

Once you have included a ‘call-to-action’ link it to a simple landing page. This is a web page with a single function – to collect the users’ information and boost conversion rates. Your offer must be enticing and it’s vital to clearly explain the benefits to the visitor of giving their information. For example, explain that your blog signup will give them ideas for driving business growth every week, or a guide will provide best practise practical advice on website design. Experiment by split testing the messaging and layout and don’t include any distractions or you risk the visitor navigating away from the page.

Thank you and goodbye

Once the visitor has completed a form, it’s always a good idea to thank them and tell them what to expect next. You also have the opportunity to make them feel good and point them in the direction of other resources on your website. A thank you page and accompanying confirmation email is a good example which is often overlooked. This is prime time to put a strong secondary offer forward, such as connecting to you on social media, joining your community, FAQ’s etc.

Above all visitors to your site care about a great experience – and that means ‘simple and fast’. By focusing on simplifying and streamlining your messages and your user journeys, you should see an immediate improvement in your conversion rates. Why not try it and see for yourself?

Further reading on websites

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Website Design

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