In today’s age, your website has become the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal to grow your business. However, not all websites are created equally. User experience is one of the key factors that separates a great site with one that frustrates and turns away customers.
User experience is a broad umbrella that covers a lot of elements on your site. Here are the top 10 most important items you should focus on improving the user experience.
1. Responsive & mobile-friendly
Smartphones are the #1 source of web traffic in many countries now. According to StatCounter over half of all worldwide visitors are now from mobiles and tablets. In some countries like India, nearly 75% of visitors come from mobile devices.
This data alone should make mobile friendliness on your site your #1 top priority from a user experience standpoint. But if that’s not enough, it is one of the ranking factors Google continues to prioritize in 2018 when ranking sites.
To ensure your site is mobile friendly, start by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Follow the instructions in this tutorial to make your webpage from desktop only to fully responsive and mobile friendly quickly.
2. Page loading time
Speed is another major factor that needs to be optimized to improve user experience on your site.
Recent research shows that 40% of people abandon a site which takes more than 3 seconds to load. In another experiment conducted by Microsoft Bing experiment, a mere 2 sec delay in page loading reduces user satisfaction by 3.8%, increases revenue loss by 4.3% and reduces clicks by 4.3%.
You can start by measuring your current site performance using free tools such as the following:
There are so many things you can do to optimize your site’s page speed. The most important ones are:
- Use a well optimized public DNS service such as Google DNS that decreases network latency and can significantly reduce lookup time before your sites are loaded.
- Use a CDN such as CloudFlare to cache and optimize the lookup of all your site assets
- If you’re using WordPress, use a Caching Plugin to minimize database lookups whenever a page is requested.
- Choose a web host with good network connectivity and server resources.
- Always optimize the size of your images as much as possible, such as by using this free tool.
3. SSL and website security
Trust is a critical factor when building any kind of business online. If your site has a user login system or even payment system, then security isn’t just critical, but mandatory.
Start off by adding SSL to encrypt all data on your site. In 2018, it’s a much simpler process than before. If your server uses cPanel, it now comes with AutoSSL which is free and automatically adds SSL to your site. If not, there are many affordable SSL providers like SSL2BUY that cost approx $9 a year.
Getting hacked is a scary prospect for both the customer and you, the owner. Besides regular backup, there are many safety measures you can take to lock things down. Keep your server software and scripts always up-to-date. Use CPS (Content Security Policy), lock down your directory/file permissions and using a secure password are among the important protective measures to take.
4. Catch those 404 errors
Nothing deters a visitors more than when the file or page they are expecting to find on your server doesn’t exist. It’s not only disappointing but unprofessional to the visitor, giving the appearance that your site is in disrepair.
Check regularly for broken links on your site by looking at your server logs. For individual pages, you can simply use a tool such like free 404 checker. And last but certainly not least, craft an attractive 404 page that contains links back to main sections of your site to funnel your users, instead of showing them the door.
5. Improve your content readability
Have you ever whizzed through a really long piece of content effortlessly, and wished it kept going? Most likely, it was more than just the content itself, but how it was presented that made it such an enjoyable and easy read.
With the prevalence of small screen devices, the cardinal rule when it comes to content presentation these days is to break it up to small digestible chunks of text. There is nothing that turns a user off faster than being confronted with a long wall of text.
Use lots of short paragraphs, bullet points, images, and headers to add variety to the presentation of your content. This helps keep it interesting, and your users engaged. A good example is my 3k words guide on workspace ergonomics. To make the long content as easy to digest as possible, I’ve used all the important tips on readability, from using lot of images and illustrations, bullet points, to short paragraphs separated by headers for each topic:
6. Make use of videos whenever possible
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is surely worth a million. In today’s world of broadband and fast connectivity, it makes sense to utilize videos as much as possible to convey your message as clearly and efficiently as possible.
Think about it- what’s the best way to show your readers how to install a toilet? Write a 2,000 words article about it, or show them using a 3-minute video? What about the type of massages your clinic provides? Or if you run an ad agency, how to best connect with clients so they feel like you’re talking to them one on one?
The answer to all of these questions is simple- by using video. Yes, they are more expensive to produce, but a well made 4-minute video triumphs the best-written blog post in delivering your message effectively to visitors and potential customers.
7. Understand colour psychology
Every color has a different psychological effect on viewers. As such, understanding that psychology and making your site’s overarching color delivers the right emotional response is part of a good user experience.
For example, did you know that according to research, soothing colours help create trust and increase conversions on sites?
If your site consists of more than one page, the importance of a good navigation system cannot be overstated. A good menu orients a user no matter where they are on your site and increases total page views and average time spent on site per user.
One of the hottest trends in website navigation is the sticky menu pattern. It creates a top navigation menu that becomes fixed on the page whenever the user begins to scroll past it inside the browser viewport:
The average attention span of readers is around 8 seconds, according to many studies. This makes the user experience on your site so important in keeping visitors engaged on your site. I hope the tips above have given you some insights on improving your website and making it more user-friendly.