First, let’s define the User Experience? This is a question that has a specific meaning but the result will be very different from person to person, which can make things a bit difficult for you when trying to determine how to construct your website. The user experience is simply how a visitor reacts to a product or service being offered. For the purpose of this article, we are going to look at this from an online perspective.
So, what is user experience optimization? When someone searches for a particular product or service online, they will end up on a website in hopes of finding the information they are looking for. Once on a particular website, the user experience begins. From the very beginning, with the load time of a website to the design layout to the images being used, the impact to the overall success or failure of that experience will be determined. The overall functionality and effectiveness of your site is what the online world likes to refer to as optimization.
As a website owner, you of course want the visitor to love your site and thus spend time there looking around, reading your articles and maybe even purchase something if that is the end goal. Do you realize that how your site is optimized for the user experience will have a big impact on the end result? If you have not given much thought to this topic, then I am glad you are taking an interest today.
Great question and actually quite simple to know if this is a possible issue for you. If you are not tracking your site’s traffic, then you must begin doing so. Not only do you need to know the obvious question, which is how many people are actually making it to your site, but you also need to know what they are doing once they get there? How long is the visitor staying on your site? What is the bounce rate? These stats can be found using Google Analytics. (If not sure how to submit site to Google, review how to submit my site to Google for a video walk through).
If you are getting traffic to your site but your bounce rate is high, then it may very well be due to the optimization of your site. Google tracks this rate for good reason. If the user leaves right away, then Google takes that to mean a poor user experience. So, let’s look at some key reasons why someone may leave without even giving your site a chance:
Google has updated its algorithm to account for websites that are not mobile friendly. The majority of visitors will be entering via a mobile phone or a tablet, which means you need to account for that. If you have not tested your site, make sure you do and make any necessary updates as needed. Your website and your users will thank you. Google’s mobile friendly test is quick and easy to use.
Keep in mind, this is subjective as some may have different definitions of slow; however, anything more than about 3 to 5 seconds is going to cause issues. Most of us in today’s world do not want to wait for anything. We are a society of impatient people. The following sites listed below offer a free check of your site’s load time. Check it out and make adjustments as needed.
There is nothing worse than going to a site and an opt in pop up appears within seconds. This is ultra annoying and causes me to click away. If someone has not even had a chance to look at your site, what makes you think they want to opt in to whatever it is you are offering? If you must have a pop up, at least set it to go off upon leaving and not upon entering. And, please do not have a pop up that requires a visitor to register before they can leave a comment or read your content. I never opt in to those. No one is that special :).
When unnecessary visuals, sound, animation and too many advertisements get in the way of a user navigating through and using your site, it is too much. I see this a lot and it causes frustration. And, what do visitors do when they are frustrated, they leave! What may appear to be “cool” is more than likely doing more harm than good. If you must have auto sound or video, at least have a clear way for the user to turn it off while browsing your site.
You may think this is obvious, but more and more themes have tiny, hard to read font types. For us older folks, it can be really frustrating. You can either change your theme or update it to have a bigger font size. Either way, make sure the size works for all.
Just today, I landed on a couple of different sites and simply could not figure out where to go. I mean, if I can’t find clearly where to go to find information, then I will not be hanging around. There was no menu anywhere, which I found very odd. I am all for sleek and simple, but no nav menu is just weird. So, off I went. Now, with that being said, your menu should be easy to navigate and make sense. I am actually all for a get started here page, or something to that affect to make the user experience much better. This is especially true for sites that have a lot of stuff going on. The easier you make navigating your site, the better the user experience.
Lack of engagement/communication is such a downer in any relationship, but most definitely online when physical connection is not an option. Do not forget to allow for comments and social sharing on your site. I understand there are some sites out there that are not looking for feedback and it may be appropriate, but for the most part, a user expects and enjoys reading what others have to say about your site and the content in it. And, if you go to the trouble of adding a comments section, do not forget to respond. When I do not see that the author or owner of a site is responding to comments, it irks me. It is common courtesy and should not be overlooked. Oh, and add an image of yourself so that you are not responding as the ever dreaded “ghost” figure.
Along the same lines, allow for social sharing on your site. This is good for you and the visitor. If they find something they like and want to share it but not able to do so, it is a bummer for them and you just lost out as well.
Every site should have a contact page. Even if you are an online only business, at least have a place for your visitors to contact you with any questions or concerns.
Seriously, this is so over the top annoying, I am not sure if I can hold in my disgust as to how I feel when I land on a site that is all about sales. First off, people rarely buy from the first site they land on. It usually takes some roaming around before a visitor turns into a customer. But, if your site is memorable for the right reasons, they will come back or bookmark your site for when they are ready. HOWEVER, if your site screams shady car salesman, then you will lose out every time on retaining the customer.
Don’t be scared to be subtle. In the end you will earn the trust of your visitor and much more apt to make a sale.
Having a website is a lot of work if you want to keep things fresh and up to date. Do not allow your site to go stale with infrequent content publishing. Also, if you have a page that is not ready to publish, then do not publish it. If I were to come across the “Try Again Soon, Page Currently Under Construction,” I would probably assume the site is not catered to as it should be and coming back to it is more than likely not going to happen.
Remember, your website is a very powerful tool and is the gateway to your business. The sole purpose of your site is to attract visitors and keep them coming back again and again. If your site is suffering in any of these areas, it would make sense to optimize and then track to see how the updates have made a difference in your stats. The end goal is always to ensure a positive user experience.
Leave a comment below and let me know if this was helpful to you. For those of you who have addressed possible negative user experiences on your site, did the changes make an impact?