Have you noticed that the bounce rate within your site is very high and that, at the same time, the length of stay of visitors is low? Have you realized that your site is not very intuitive and difficult to use? You are probably facing a User Experience problem. Being able to guarantee a pleasant experience to the user when he/she enters your online platform is certainly important to ensure that he/she doesn't leave! In this regard, remember that your company website is not made for you, but for the user: it is not certain that an element that you have chosen for personal taste is actually intuitive and useful to increase the User Experience. But then...how to create an unforgettable user experience? Find out with this definitive guide in 15 points!
#1 Loading speed
One of the most frustrating experiences that a user can live inside a website is...not being able to enter it at all! The extreme slowness in loading a page is the most hated thing by the web community, so much so that some statistics (taken and repurposed from www.hobo-web.co.uk) claim that 47% of users expect a site to open in just 2 seconds and 40% of them will prematurely abandon your platform if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. The situation becomes even more critical if, whoever enters, does so from a smartphone or tablet: 85% of users expect the site speed to be even better from mobile than from desktop.
Loading speed greatly affects the visits to your site. That's why you need to test it with Google PageSpeed Insights, which will also give you tips on how to improve it. For example, avoid using elements that are too bulky (images, videos,...), which could weigh down the platform. Or, alternatively, you can choose to optimize them thanks to specific and free tools, which you can easily find on search engines.
#2 RESPONSIVE AND MOBILE-FRIENDLY SITE
When you decide not to make a responsive site, you're basically telling a large portion of your audience, "You're not welcome on my site!" Sounds bad, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it does. The most recent statistics show that the number of those who surf the web via smartphone or tablet is growing exponentially in recent years: that's why you have to adapt and make your site extremely comfortable for this group of users. Create a "responsive" and mobile-friendly website, so that the structure and layout are perfectly viewable from both smartphones and desktops.
How do you know if your site is mobile-friendly? Through Google's optimization test, which also gives you a number of useful tips to implement in order to make it so. As always, remember to avoid images that are too large, which can decrease loading speed or even be only partially displayed because they take up too much space.
Do you need any further assistance to increase the User Experience of your website?
#3 NAVIGATION MENU HIERARCHY
The navigation menu is one of the most important things from the user's point of view: it is what allows you to create a path within the site, a sort of white line that indicates to the visitor the various directions he can take. That's why it has to be simple and easy to understand. In a few words, even the navigation menu must be marked towards an excellent User Experience.
How to make it so? First of all, create a hierarchy, asking yourself: what do I want to put in the foreground as the main category? And what, instead, could be in the subcategories? If, for example, you sell home appliances, you could make categories titled "Washing machines", "Dishwashers", "Refrigerators", and, for each subcategory, the various brands you sell, or the power of each appliance. In short, try to understand where the user wants to go when he enters your site. Remember that the labels with the names of categories and subcategories must be short, but perfectly understandable. A user will hardly stay long in your site, if he will not even understand how the navigation menu has been designed!
#4 DON'T UNDERESTIMATE COLORS
Try to imagine entering a cosmetics website and finding it black or even blue: wouldn't it seem strange to you? Usually, the main companies that sell makeup are represented with the color pink, creamy white or, in extremis, green (think, for example, Bottega Verde!). Why? Quite simply, because colors, within a site, count for much more than you might think, whether it's the background or the Call to Action. Each color produces a different effect on the user and it will be difficult for a girl who enters a site that sells cosmetics, to expect to find it black, more related to the sports aspect - it seems to create a sense of speed in the user - or to that of an offer of services.
An effective website, which takes into account the User Experience of users, must be thought about at length also from the point of view of colors. Think about the message you want to convey to your users. To name a few examples, red, as you know, is the color of passion and love; green is mainly used to talk about nature and health, in sites of medical practices or organic food; finally, if you sell machinery or cleaning equipment, opt for white, a symbol of purity. As you can see, behind each color hides a specific emotion related to it. Improve the User Experience of your website by matching the right colors for your brand!
#5 ORIGINAL AND QUALITY IMAGES
As they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words." But they have to be positive and satisfying words, of course. Photos represent an additional element that can improve or worsen the User Experience within your site. Try to think about entering an online platform that uses grainy images, absolutely not original (you saw them the same the other day among the first results of Google Images!), that have nothing to do with what the business wants to offer. How long would you stay on a site like that and what emotions would it arouse in you? I think I already know the answer.
In order to improve your business site and increase the time users stay on your site, make sure your images are quality and in high resolution. Don't get them from Google Images, there are many other platforms that offer professional photos for free! If you want to showcase your products, photograph them in their real-life use - it will make them feel closer to your potential customers. It's definitely nicer to see a blender in action than a simple blender placed in the store, with a white background, don't you think? Pay attention to images: they are some of the elements of a site that retain visitors the most!
#6 THE IMPORTANCE OF WHITE SPACE
After having analyzed 3 technical aspects and 2 graphical aspects very important to improve the User Experience within your site, let's get to the textual content: would you ever read a very long article, without the division into paragraphs? Personally, it often happens to me to come across this kind of articles and, no matter how interesting their topics may be and how smooth the reading, I can't stay for more than 10 seconds. The eyes, especially when reading from a smartphone - and therefore, from a device with a smaller screen than a common desktop PC - need to rest. It is in this perspective that white space plays a particularly important role.
Within blog articles, remember to divide the text into paragraphs. Especially if it is very long and the subject matter is particularly complex, inserting white space after 3 or 4 sentences will allow the user's eye to "breathe". And its concentration will remain unchanged. Do the same within the graphics of the site itself: remember to include clear elements, especially if your online platform has a dark background (blue, black, purple). Also, make sure that in the texts of each page there is a balance between the length of the content and white space.
#7 USE BULLETED LISTS
When you think of a user of your website, don't think of an abstract figure, but of a concrete person, who during the day has to juggle a thousand commitments and who, perhaps, only late at night has time to surf the Internet. For this reason, when he enters your online platform, he wants all the information to be well organized, without having to waste whole quarters of an hour trying to understand who you are and what you do. In an effort to make this easier, opt for bulleted lists.
Why are bulleted lists so important? First of all, because they give the user quick access to all the information they need. If he needs to tell his wife, friends or boss about you, he won't have to search through a very long text to find the details that interest him, but the structure of the content will make it much easier. This is true both for informative texts ("about us", for example) and for product descriptions: try to think of having to collect information, sometimes difficult to understand for a "common" user, about a refrigerator. Power, capacity and whatever else can be easily described one below the other, thanks to bulleted lists. A particularly amusing thing in this context? Certainly the possibility to insert icons that are not the usual dots or numbers, but particular and original icons for your lists.
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#8 "LESS IS MORE"
According to the latest statistics, the user remains focused for only 8 seconds after entering. That's why you have to try to keep his attention high, but, first of all, to capture it from the very first moment. What to do to make the User Experience remarkable from the first 8 seconds? In this case we use the English motto "less is more", which comes from the world of architecture and is translated as "less is more".
What does "less is more" mean? This term was first used by the German Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who revolutionized the world of architecture: contrary to what had been thought until then, the essential became synonymous with perfect. For this reason, try not to fill the homepage with images and information that could very well be left out. Leave only what is really essential, both in terms of graphics and textual content, and what the user's attention should be focused on. Everything else, then, can easily be inserted in the other pages, when the visitor will have already chosen to stay in your online platform. By that time, the fateful 8 seconds will have passed and you will have captured their attention.
#9 THE CONTENTS OF ABOVE THE FOLD
"Above the Fold" is a terminology that was used years ago by newspaper editors to indicate everything that was not only on the front page, but also before the folding in half of the newspaper. Once upon a time, in fact, the Internet didn't exist and in order to find out what was happening in the world, people bought paper newspapers: readers used to fold them in half and put them under their arm, to take them home and read them at their leisure. In practice, everything in the first half of the first page (pardon the pun!) was of great importance: the news of value, the ones that captured the reader and pushed him to buy the newspaper, were condensed within this well-defined area.
In 2018, the situation hasn't changed so much: sites, in order to capture the visitor's attention right away, try to condense the main elements - the ones you want to know in depth - within the "Above the Fold" area. Basically, without scrolling with the mouse or finger, without making any movement, the user must be able to receive all the information they need to understand whether it's worth going down or out. Basically, everything that's really important needs to be at the top.
#10 IMPROVE INTERNAL LINKS
Just as in real life, when we visit a city we sometimes need to rely on a map to understand where to go, in the same way, in order to be truly satisfied with the experience of a site, we must have at our disposal "guides". In this case, then, we are talking about internal links, which come from a careful link building strategy.
Internal links represent an added value both for your business and for the user: in the first case, they allow you to let your visitors discover some aspects of your site and your company that, otherwise, they would have hardly found. When you write an article and insert links within it, you use them as a huge signpost to land readers on other posts and showcase your professionalism. But internal links are so much more than that: they act as a "Virgil" for users, who are guided through the "dark wilderness" of your site and can continue on a precise, uncluttered path you've predetermined. In this way, they will never have the feeling of being at the mercy of the waves!
#10 IMPROVE INTERNAL LINKS
We've just emphasized how important it is for a user to have a guide to lead him to the places where, exactly, he wants to go. Similarly, when the visitor is in a particular hurry and can't visit every specific page of your online platform, he needs a quick way to find the answer to his "bellyache": we're talking about the internal search bar.
A tool that's mostly used on sites that showcase thousands of products - for example, the company Comet, which sells every type of home appliance and, therefore, it's difficult to manually search for a specific one -, internal search improves the User Experience much more than you can imagine. The visitor to your online platform can type in the keyword and be directed directly to the page that contains it. This will be useful for him, who won't have to waste time, spacing himself out, and also for you, who, through Google Analytics data, will be able to find out what is being searched for the most. And you'll know exactly what to highlight.
#12 TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FILTERS
Another way to make the User Experience on your site significantly better is to add the ability to filter when searching for specific pages or products. Especially if your online platform is full of information and details, navigation will become easier and more instantaneous if you give the user the ability to "skim", based on their characteristics and needs.
When I think of filters on a site, my mind always flies to Booking.com: this is because, when I'm looking for a facility for my stay in Rome, the tourist platform presents me with a host of additional information that I can mark to reduce the number of facilities that may suit me. To get as close as possible to what I require. In practice, Booking asks me the number of stars of the hotel I am looking for; if I want to have breakfast in the structure; if I want the swimming pool; what is the minimum rating that the hotel reviews must present. All of this greatly helps my journey through the site, without making me waste too much time searching independently among the thousands and thousands of structures present in Rome. And, of course, at the end of the journey I am also more satisfied and less exhausted.
#13 INSERT CALL TO ACTION
Call to Action are very useful elements to increase the User Experience of your website visitors. They are, in fact, buttons that, as the name indicates, "invite to action". "Buy now!", "Find out more information", "Contact us!": these are just a few examples in this regard. You might think that these buttons are only useful from your point of view, as they allow you to direct the user exactly where you want them to go. In reality, that's not the case. CTAs are so much more than that.
Call to Action's represent for the visitor of your online platform a sign, telling them what to do and, most importantly, where to go. If made with interesting graphics, with contrasting colors compared to the rest of the site and, above all, with the right text, they can become ways to attract new customers. To be truly so, however, they need to contain detailed information within them: don't just write "Find out more!", but clearly specify where the user, once they click on the CTA, will arrive and what benefit they will get.
#14 MAKE SIMPLE CONTACT FORMS
Now I'm going to give you an example of one of the worst situations that can happen on a site. A user enters, is intrigued from the first page, reads some articles, inquires, finds out who you are and, at the end of all this journey, enters a landing page and tries to get in touch with you. Beautiful, isn't it? Too bad, once he gets to your contract form, he notices that it's very long: first and last name, phone number, e-mail address, residence and domicile, social security number, place and date of birth. At this point, discouraged, he exits your online platform never to return.
Simple contact forms that can be filled out in a matter of seconds are one of the top demands of users. And the GDPR, for that matter. Spacing out a visitor at the very moment in which he's just a step away from contacting you because you're asking him for more things than necessary, is a resounding own goal for your business, also because, then, that user will migrate to other pastures, those of your competitors. Therefore, create simple contact forms in which you ask for the essential: sometimes, simply name and surname and e-mail address or telephone number are enough. When the relationship with the visitor will be more started, you can, if necessary, add new information to the profile of the potential customer.
Do you need any further assistance to increase the User Experience of your website?
#15 CREATE INTERACTIVE CONTENT
We've reached the end of our journey and I want to leave you with a "bonus" tip, which can really allow you to highlight the difference between you and your online competitors, i.e. your added value. Creating interactive content for your online platform will leave the user who enters it open-mouthed: 3D elements, augmented reality apps, special tools to let him discover your business up close. The visitor will be able to enter into another dimension and get to know you better: your interactive content will remain impressed in his mind and you'll have more chances that he will remain fully satisfied with his experience on the site.
Airbnb knows this well, and to introduce itself, at the url https://it.airbnb.ch/map, it has created a world, in which the user can search for the country he is interested in. Inside the globe, the peculiarities of each country are presented, with curiosities inherent to the world of Airbnb. For example, if you click on Rome, the words "on New Year's Eve, 12,000 guests stayed in Rome" appear. It's an interactive content, which is curious and nice and leads, at the same time, to understand the scope of the phenomenon dictated by Airbnb. For this reason, if you can, create a section on your site dedicated to content that can really impress your visitors: they will fall in love with it and, by making their experience on the site interactive, new contacts will flow in!
In this article, we have seen how to improve the User Experience, with the aim of creating a site without comparison, which can differentiate itself from the competition. The technical points to be taken into account mainly concern the speed and responsiveness of the platform, which must be viewable both from desktop and smartphone in an optimal way. The navigation menu must be designed to be easy to understand and with a perfect hierarchy. On a graphical level, consider the importance of colors, images, white space and bulleted lists, to perfect the process of reading from any device by the user. Remember not to overfill the homepage with elements: in this regard, "less is more". At the same time, however, insert the most important information and images, those that you want to be seen at first glance, "Above the Fold", that is, in that area that can be viewed without any scroll. To improve the internal navigation of the visitor, create internal links, create an internal search bar, insert the possibility to filter the results. Even CTAs take a leading role in this context: they allow you to guide the user where you want; from his point of view, he will know perfectly where he will arrive by clicking on the button. Remember that contact forms should be simple and you shouldn't ask for too much information. Finally, create interactive content that will leave the user speechless. At this point, the die will be cast and the visitor will be satisfied with their experience on your site!
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