Your website design is stale. It’s design, user experience and content seemed so good when your site launched a number of years ago. Now it feels like a relic — a fact you’re reminded of every time you visit the sites of your competitors and every other online business you frequent.
Whether you hire a professional developer to redesign (or entirely rebuild) your website, or you use one of the many do-it-yourself website builders, keep these six user experience best practices at the ready.
Focus on Speed
Customers don’t wait. In fact, nobody waits. Speed is the name of the game, and slow page loads are a business killer. Bogging down your site with unnecessary widgets, plugins and third-party code are more likely to hurt your bottom line than help it.
But speed also means understanding what your site visitors want and delivering it to them quickly. In other words, don’t make users crawl through a complex navigation menu or click through several pages to get to your most popular content or products. Easy access leads to quick conversions and sales.
Mobile devices are today’s first screens. That means your website must be designed from a mobile-first perspective — fonts, buttons, links, data fields, pictures and every other component should be as easy to execute with one’s thumbs on a touchscreen as they are with a keyboard and mouse. Does that mean you need different website templates for desktop, tablet and mobile platforms? Not necessarily. Responsive design is a newer technology that automatically adjusts a website’s layout based on what kind of device each visitor is using, thereby ensuring your site looks and functions great no matter how large (or small) a user’s screen is.
It’s worth noting that Google rewards websites optimized for mobile in its search results. The other way of looking at it? Google punishes sites that aren’t optimized for mobile. Do you want to be on Google’s good side or bad side?
Encourage User Interaction
In business, relevance and relationships matter most. Tapping into the existing relationships you have with your customers is one of the best and easiest (and least expensive) ways to build brand awareness and increase sales. Be sure your business website design encourages that interaction and engagement by including social sharing buttons on content and product pages. Along those lines, consider holding contests and other community-building strategies for soliciting feedback and user stories from your customers. Not only will you reap the rewards of establishing one-to-one connections with your audience, you’ll also collect great testimonials and user-generated content to drive more engagement and more business. A win-win!
Every Page is a Homepage
The days of visitors entering your website primarily through its homepage are over. Sure, some still will, but if you look closely at your website analytics you’ll likely discover a decreasing number of visitors landing on your homepage first and an increasing number of site visitors coming directly to a product, category or content page instead. Social media and advanced search algorithms are helping users find exactly what they’re looking for from the get-go. So when designing your site, it’s essential that every page includes exposure and links to other great content, products and whatever else your business wants visitors to see or find. Assume that whatever page a visitor enters your site through is the only opportunity you’ll have to engage them with all your business has to offer them.
Design for Your Brand, Not for Design
What’s the goal of your website? Is it to introduce potential customers to your service? Is to establish your business as a leader in its industry? Is to get visitors to purchase a product?
Don’t design (or redesign) your website until you know the answer to that question. Then, with that knowledge in hand, make sure you site design stays focused on the desired outcome.
It’s easy to convince yourself that full-screen autoplay video would be a really cool feature for your site, but will it add or detract from the desired outcome? Sometimes simpler really is better. Technology and design is a solution, not a strategy.
Be Prepared to Update and Iterate
Treat your website like you treat your customers and employees. In other words, think of your website as a living, breathing part of your business. It must be nurtured, corrected when it does something wrong, and constantly paid attention to. Digital technologies and user behaviors are ever-evolving. Just because your website was redesigned and updated last year doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore it. Plan to constantly update and iterate.
What other user experience best practices do you have for website design? Share them in the comments!