Why is user experience important? When users visit your website, their experience will dictate whether or not they will want to come back. Similar to how a dining experience can be swayed by a bubbly or a grumpy server, a user’s experience on your site can be swayed by a good or bad design. If your website is easy to navigate, the font is legible, the display is appealing, and users are able to complete the task they initially set out to accomplish while getting an overall good impression, why wouldn’t they want to return?
However, if your website is the opposite of everything above, it’s safe to say a user won’t be returning.
User experience is important because it’s how your brand interacts with your customers. It’s how information is displayed and it determines whether they can make sense of that information. User experience is important because a user’s time on your website can be the difference between your brand gaining a loyal customer or losing them to your competition. This is why UX is the backbone of online businesses.
To put it simply, user experience is how easy and pleasing a digital application is to use. Take Apple, for example. One of the biggest reasons Apple is as enormous as it is today is because of how easy the Apple interface is to navigate. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time on an Apple device, you can pretty much sort out where everything is on your own. Apple knew the key to improving the end user experience was to make navigation easier for consumers.
What’s more, for every dollar your team invests in UX, you will see a return of $2 to $100. You are basically guaranteed positive ROI because you’re investing in the well-being of your customers. McAfee was able to cut their support calls by 90% as a result of user interface redesign. Airbnb noted the reason they went from being a near-failure to a $10 million company was because of UX. ESPN had a revenue increase of 35% after a homepage redesign.
Improving user experience and conversions is of the utmost importance for a digital business owner. We’ve outlined five tips that will help enhance the user experience for your brand below.
How to Improve Your UX Design
If you’re an entrepreneur at the beginning stages of building your start-up or a small business owner looking to branch into the online space, these tips will help you build your digital brand and improve your UX:
Optimize Page Speed
There’s no patience in an age where information is expected instantaneously. Page speed is an important factor in your website’s UX because users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. If you want to improve page speed, here are some things you should do:
- Reduce your page load time by optimizing the images and files on your website. Do this by uploading the correct image formats based on the imagery on your site. PNG files are best for infographics, graphics, and text on a website because their compression is smaller. JPEG files are best for the actual photography displayed on your webpage. You should also resize all your images so they are as high quality as possible while taking up the least possible amount of space.
- Another way to reduce page speed is to improve your server response time by using a content distribution network. CDNs are frameworks of physical proxy servers spread out within data centers. These servers act as hosts for your website and, because the physical distance between a user’s computer and your site info has been shortened, the page speed time decreases as well.
2. Use Imagery Effectively
While your images certainly need to be reduced in size and optimized to keep your speed high, you also need to use imagery effectively to improve your website’s UX. The brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than text, so you want the visual elements on your website to reflect the written content as well. If you see a page about improving the end-user experience, but that has a picture of a monkey eating a banana, you would be pretty confused. Be sure the imagery on your site supports the message you want to communicate to your audience and doesn’t distract from the content. Here are some things to consider:
- Choose focal points in your images and graphics that you believe will enhance the messages you’re trying to convey. You can do this by blurring out the background of pictures so a user’s attention is drawn to a specific point in your photographs. You can also use contrasting colors to further highlight information that needs to stand out. Having a dark background with light colors in vector imagery helps users discern what they need to focus on.
- Different kinds of imagery can be used for different reasons. When it comes to your products, workers, and customers, using photography is the best choice. Commission your own photographer to capture authentic photos of your target audience and employees instead of loading your site with stock photography. When it comes to design and creative processes within your company, illustrations and vector graphics can relay a sense of personalization and intimacy with your users. You can use typography for emphasis and to help diversify your visual elements.
- Understand that not all pages on your website need to be image-focused and not all points you want to communicate to your audience need a visual aid. Overusing imagery is also a bad thing and can be distracting to your users. However, be sure that you are using visual elements that are strengthening your messaging instead of detracting from it.
3. Optimize your Website with a Responsive Design
From smartphones to tablets and sometimes even screens on refrigerators, there are dozens of devices that connect to the internet. A responsive design is the UX design approach that adjusts your content scale to the size of the screen a user is viewing it on. This is one of the most important user experience parameters because, according to Google, 52% of users say that a poor mobile experience will make them less likely to engage with a company. This stat factored in with the fact that more than 70% of all online traffic is produced through a mobile device, means that responsive designs are mandatory. Here are some aids to help you out:
- One way to optimize your website with a responsive design is to utilize tools like Cloudinary or Uploadcare. These open source tools show you image breakpoints, which are the viewpoint sizes that you can make changes to. This will help you manage multiple image sizes so your imagery can be viewed on different platforms, sizes, and densities without trouble.
- You can also ensure your mobile site operates seamlessly with the help of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages. For WordPress site owners, this plugin will help strip down your website to its most basic form so users on mobile can enjoy your content without all the excess formatting and delayed page loading time.
4. Utilize Call-to-Actions on Every Page
Creating attractive call-to-action (CTA) buttons on every page is important because they help users move through the sales funnel. If you’re thinking about how to improve UX design and drive conversions, editing your CTAs is the way to go because they help turn leads into paying customers. You want your CTAs to be self-explanatory and enticing enough to drive traffic and sales. As you create them, keep the following things in mind:
- When it comes to editing your CTAs, the first thing your team should note is their size. You want the CTA to be noticeable enough by users that they will easily see it on screen, but not too large that it’s distracting to the surrounding content. CTAs should be around 44 x 44 px or 34 x 26 px, as recommended by Apple and Microsoft respectively.
- It’s also important to note color when you’re crafting your CTAs. These buttons are supposed to attract and entice users. Choose colors not only based on your company’s color palette and branding, but also by the feelings they evoke. You don’t need to enroll in a color psychology course, but it is worth noting that certain feelings are evoked by particular colors. Coschedule or Black Bear Design can speak to better understanding colors and their psychological effects.
- Positioning on the page is also very important for CTAs. They should be front and center or, in newspaper terms, “above the fold.” Translated into digital terms, your CTAs should be visible (uncrowded by surrounding images and text elements so users can easily see it) and appear near the top of your web page.
5. Keep Branding Consistent
Consistency is one of the fundamental elements in UX design because with consistency comes user learnability and usability. Users can anticipate the placement of information and are better able to navigate your website with consistent design. Through consistent branding, you’re also building legitimacy and user trust. Think about the content your business puts out like a dish in a restaurant: every dish is a statement about the chef; every piece of content (image, article, social post, etc.) is a statement about your brand. Keeping your branding consistent across your website, social profiles, and emails will help show your users that you know who you are, what you do, and even what you stand for. Some additional tips for doing this are:
- In a time where Instagram influencers and YouTubers set the stage, a brand’s aesthetic is one of the most, if not the most, important differentiating factor in this digital age. While brand aesthetic may be the buzz term of the decade, consistently using the same logo, color palette, and design practices are what will turn your small startup brand into a recognizable icon. Take the golden arches of McDonald’s, for example, or the aesthetic design of Apple or Starbucks. These brands have distinct elements that let any user know what brand they’re looking at and interacting with even without the logo. While you may not get to their level of iconography just yet, laying the foundation to one day get to that place means consistency in your brand’s aesthetic.
- Keeping consistent voice and tone throughout your website is also important for UX, as the written content on your website leaves an impression on your users. There’s a huge difference between the copy written on the websites of brands like Nike and Adidas versus Supreme and HUF. All are considered streetwear brands, but the voice and tone of their copy are perceived completely differently. Nike and Adidas have a more universal appeal to their copy, whereas Supreme and HUF are brands notorious for exclusivity. Think about your company’s mission statement, values, and beliefs and build your brand voice from there. Think about approachability and decide how you want your tone to sound when users read your content. Your brand voice and tone is literally how you talk and communicate with your users.
- Social media posts and interactions add to your UX because they are an extension of your brand. To keep your branding consistent, come up with a social media guideline for what you should and should not post. Do you want your business to have political views, or should your brand stay out of those conversations? Will you post suggestive imagery, or will you keep your images PG? Consider what will attract your target audience and how you can create native content to each social platform of your choice.
Although it can be overwhelming to learn about a small business owner’s different roles and responsibilities with UX design, there’s no need to fear because you have help! There are dozens of AI and machine learning platforms that will help you take on the role of enhancing the UX of your website. For example, there are platforms like Uizard, which helps brands prototype hand-drawn sketches and teaches machines to navigate these graphical user interfaces the same way a user would. Essentially, you can turn your hand-drawn wireframes into digitally-designed files in an instant. This tool is great for business owners who understand how they want their site laid out and can sketch it but aren’t exactly the savviest of coders. Uizard will take care of all the tedious front-end coding leaving you to focus on the core functionality and animation of your site.
There are also other tools like Balsamiq, which provides mockups of wireframes for websites, mobile apps, and more. With the initial structure of your site laid out, this tool will help you focus on the content, structure, and flow of your website. The Balsamiq team has extensive documentation and they release updates and improvements of their wireframes regularly. They also have a large community of users ready to help you when needed. These artificially-intelligent solutions give new business owners the tools they need to produce amazing experiences for their users, plus they’re cost-effective and will alleviate some of the stress from your shoulders.
User experience really is about offering your customers the best digital experience possible. UX design helps you communicate your messages effectively and increase conversions. Investing in UX is truly a win-win situation. Here are the key takeaways for you today:
- User experience is the difference between gaining or losing loyal customers.
- Simply put, UX is how enjoyable your site is to be on and how easy it is to navigate.
- Investment in UX is linked to positive ROI.
- Reduce your page load time by optimizing images and files on your website.
- Effectively use imagery to support your written content.
- Reach consumers on varying digitally-connected devices with a responsive design.
- Utilize CTAs on every page to turn your leads into paying customers.
- Keep branding consistent to further legitimize your brand.
- Use artificially-intelligent solutions to produce great UX.
This article originally appeared in Sellbrite.