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Attract, Convert, Retain: Enhancing the User Web Experience

ellingtopn-savage“Finding a reliable and trustworthy IT partner is always a challenge> and I am pleased to say we have found one in Greenlight. In the time Greenlight has worked with us; our systems performance has improved, downtime has become virtually non-existent, and our running costs have actually decreased ”

– Geoff Hicken, CFO Ellington Savage

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Landing page example

If you are having problems turning visitors to customers despite having a perfect web design, then you should have a second look because you might have problems with user experience.There are many definitions of web user experience (UX). Microsoft defines it as the “activity of encounter by a computer user with the auditory and visual presentation of a collection of computer programs.” Wikipedia says it is “how a person feels about using a system.”

Simply put, it’s the overall experience a user goes through during and after using a website. It includes a person’s perception and behaviour toward a certain business. A positive user experience can lead to better conversions, customer loyalty, and, ultimately, increased profits.

How Does User Experience Affect Conversions?

To better explain how UX affects conversions, it’s important to know what contributes to a positive web user experience. First is the web design. Design plays a crucial role because this brings together several elements that individually affect user behaviour. For starters, it must be appealing. A website that doesn’t look good will have a difficult time attracting visitors. Take note, however, that good design does not, by itself, result in a positive user experience. You could have the best-looking website yet still suffer low conversion rates because it all boils down to how users perceive your website.

A website with stunning visuals but  difficult navigation will drive visitors away. The moment they encounter problems like slow loading time, too many redirects, and difficulties finding content is the time they’ll hit the Back button.

Then there’s the content. People use the web to find useful information that will make their lives easier. They want hacks, tips, and tricks to solve their problems. A website with lacklustre content will lose readers. What’s worse is these people won’t come back because their initial experience was not good.

Positive user experience is a seamless combination of both. A beautiful web design with mediocre content will frustrate visitors. Great content in an awful-looking site won’t get discovered because no one’s going to click. Balance is necessary to craft a proper web user experience.

How Do You Enhance Web User Experience?

Position important details above-the-fold. Anything important you want to say—call-to-action, company’s mission, announcement, etc.—must be put above-the-fold because it gets more engagement from users. A study on two different websites (UNICEF and Red Cross) that ask for donations showed that UNICEF had better conversions because its message is placed at the top of the home page.

Change your perspective. Look at your website as a user. A change of perspective will shed light on the areas that need improvement. From a usability point of view you might find that most of the links are dead or the navigation is terrible.

Get to know your customers. Every target market is different, and that means they use websites differently. What is special about your users? How do they communicate with each other and what’s their purpose for using your products or services? Identifying your audience will help you better customize the experience.

Speed up loading time. Loading time is crucial for retaining visitors and converting them to customers. Data from Kissmetrics show that 47 percent of users expect sites to load in 2 seconds or less. Out of those, 40 percent leave when the site takes 3 seconds to load. A delay of even just one second will reduce conversions by 7 percent.

Avoid false affordances. This happens when items in the website don’t perform the tasks they’re assumed to have. For example, Button images are assumed to be clickable and pointing to a specific page, so they need to point somewhere. Neglecting user’s expectations this way can lead to frustrated visitors and lost customers.

Make it clear to users where they are. It must be clear to users how each page is related to other pages and that they know how to go back, in case they get lost. Simple things like putting a “next post” and properly categorized page can keep them from aimlessly wandering around your site.

Write longer copy. Experiments by SEOMoz and Quicksprout showed that longer copy converts better than short copy. Even though longer texts run below the fold, they didn’t just convert well, they also ranked better in search engines. Longer copy can generate more links as long as it’s high quality.

Break information to bite-sized bits. Of course, don’t go overboard either. Most people don’t like reading long texts. Break them up with headings and make sure paragraphs don’t exceed five sentences. They’ll have an easier time devouring your content when served in small sizes.

Split pages. It’s easier for users to click to another page than scroll down to get all the information. The load of going to the next page is less daunting than the having to read all the way down a page.

Conclusion

It’s crucial that websites provide positive user experience because it’s what’s going to attract visitors, convert browsers to buyers, and retain customers. To accomplish that, the website owner needs to look at things as a whole and ensure that individual elements complement each other. Adopting a point of view focused on usability will help business owners determine how to improve their web design for it to deliver the best possible user experience.

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