Marketing is full of buzzwords and, as the key component in any digital marketing strategy, website design and development are no different.
You’ll have all heard phrases like user experience, user journey and user interface. But what are they, what do they really mean and why are they important to you?
Put simply, when all of these elements are right it means there’s a seamless experience in place where a user can get from point A to point B with the minimum amount of fuss and without having to think.
This was the focus of Steve Krug’s book ‘Don’t make me think’ published in 2000. Even though it’s now 15 years old, the principles Krug outlines are as relevant now as they’ve ever been. Chief amongst these is removing questions in a user’s mind by making everything as clear and obvious as possible.
When it comes to building a new website or redeveloping an existing site, less is always more. The natural inclination is to overdose on information too quickly and to cram the top level pages full of detail. Resist the temptation to do this and instead concentrate on teasing your users through the site.
Key to this is understanding where you want your users to end up and what you want them to do when they get there. Get this bit right first and then plan the route out for them including lots of handy signposts along the way.
Here’s five ways you can make it easy for your users and give them a positive online experience:
1. Know your user
This sounds obvious but is frequently overlooked. Knowing your user or your customer or your audience has to be the starting point. Create the persona, or multiple-personas if appropriate, of your average customer. Use your imagination and go beyond the basics. Of course you want to know gender and age but what about education, hobbies and lifestyle choices? Piece together all this information and you will have a great profile of your user. By understanding them, you can begin to understand what they like, what they want and what they will respond to.
2. Have a planned route
The next step is to know what you want your customers to do when they are on your website. Again, this sounds simple, but is never given the importance it deserves. Always ask yourself: ‘What is my website for?’ And understand what you want your customers to do. This could be anything from making a purchase, to filling out a contact request form or completing a data capture form.
3. Make it easy to navigate
Once you know what you want your customers to do, make it as easy as possible for them to do it. You wouldn’t invite guests to a party and then give them bad directions, would you? So make sure you have good, clear and easy navigation on your website. This includes everything from clear calls to action, to a well-planned journey and intelligent use of navigation menus. Make it clear and obvious, then you’ll reduce the risk of your customers getting lost. There’s a reason you tend to find logos and links back to the home page in the top right of a website or search bars and shopping baskets in the top right - this is where people expect to find them so make sure they can.
4. Build a solid structure
Having a solid structure to your site and a defined hierarchy is not only important for your users but is also important for search engines crawling the site. Your homepage and your top level pages are there to sign post your users deeper down through your site structure. The information you include on these top level pages is the hardest to get right because it has to sum up your brand, your offering and your product as quickly as possible while pulling users down further into the site. The deeper down they drill, the more information you can give them. Your second, third or even fourth tier pages should contain much more granular information as this is what the user expects to see here.
5. Always engage
This is the hard part. While you have to make it easy for people, you still have to engage with them by providing them with content that inspires them to act. Good imagery, concise text and a strong call to action are all vital to achieving this.Underpinning all of these tips is the idea to make it as easy as possible for your customers. Think about how frustrating it is when your favourite supermarket swap their aisles around - the same holds true with a website.Know your customer, know what they want and then make it easy as possible for them to get it. Do this and you’ll be providing them with a first-rate online experience which will lead to significantly higher conversions.