Utilising the Most Efficient UX Practices
When you've got an e-commerce website, generating as much business as possible is absolutely crucial. With the online market getting more and more populated, it's well worth looking into ways in which you can improve the user experience on your website.
Utilising highly efficient UX (User Experience) practices entices visitors to stay on your site and will greatly aid in improving conversions. Ignoring these practices will lead to people bouncing off your site; a lower conversion rate and quite possibly, worse rankings. In this article we will be covering what we believe to be some of the most efficient UX practices for your website.
UX is very important for any website. No matter if it is an informative blog or if it is a business e-commerce site; all of them need to give a good user experience. Simply trying to make your site welcoming won’t do either. There are many areas involved in creating the best user experience possible. Whatever the goal is or whatever it is that you wish to get out of your site; creating a good user experience is one of the best ways to accomplish them. These goals can be anything from more conversions to improving session time. Creating a better user experience would greatly aid in accomplishing almost any goal.
From improving page structure to getting a fast and responsive site; we will be covering some of the most efficient UX practices to date and how they will help your site.
Page Structure and Formatting
Recently covered in our article ‘15 Things to Check When Launching a New Website’, page structure and formatting is very important for any website. If you are starting a new website, re-designing an old one or writing an article; you should have good page structure in place. This means including headers, sub-headings and paragraphed text.
There is a set hierarchy when it comes to headings. They will go through from H1 (Heading 1) to H6. When writing in Word, there isn’t a limit to the number of headings you can use. However, when it comes to writing for websites; you are limited to up to H6 which is rarely used. The hierarchy is to show search engines a structure to your page. Starting with H1 being your title, it will then move onto a H2 for a sub-heading and then H3 for a sub-sub-heading. An example of a good page structure would be:
You often won’t see more than one H1 on a page unless if it is a one-page website. This is to ensure that search engines and viewers understand what the page is about. The other headings are used to identify different sections of text. Utilising these headings means that you are more likely to grab the viewers’ attention, but also keep them interested. The other headings are commonly used for separating paragraphs of text. To visualise, below is an image of this article without any page structure:
Would you still be reading if it looked like that?
Separating content into their own areas ensures everything is clear to the viewer. It keeps everything clean and easy to understand or follow. Detailing the main points of the page; headings have a wide variety of benefits and should be used correctly where possible. Obviously, there is a limit to the amount of content you should have on a standard webpage (doesn’t really apply to articles or blog posts). You don’t want to have a constant string of headers that requires the user to scroll for ages before reaching the bottom of the page.
Only include relevant content that adds value to your site. That is how you keep people interested and keep them on your site for longer.
Page speed is highly important for any website. Think about when you are searching at home or at work. You click on a website that has caught your attention, but you are stuck staring at a loading screen for a few seconds. You are more than likely to back off and go elsewhere. Now think of your website. Does your website do that as well? If so then your customers will be having that same thought that you just had. They will back off and go elsewhere.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Page speed can be a large cause of high bounce rates. Running your site through programs such as Googles PageSpeed Insights will give your website a score detailing what is slowing your website down and will suggest possible ways to improve it. One of the key parts that will catch a lot of businesses out is the lack of optimised images. It can be a large part that business miss out, leading to very long load times. An example of what you would see when using PageSpeed Insights can be seen below:
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
A desktop tool called Screaming Frog SEO Spider is another great tool. It will run through your website (has a limit of 500 URLs unless you pay for a subscription) and give you details on the response times of all pages it crawls. You can use this to identify your slowest pages and optimise them directly.
A website that loads faster will be more likely to captivate and keep its visitors. Therefore, if your site is slow, you will want to consider optimising it to make it faster. The best way to do this is to use both tools and identify what could be done and what pages need to be optimised. Creating this plan allows you to work on the weakest areas of your site first. Not only does an increased page speed aid in keeping visitors on your site, it also has SEO benefits as well.
Google have said that user satisfaction is a ranking factor. This means that if people are not getting a good user experience from your site, you can expect to see your website suffer because of it. This could even result in the loss of search positions. Working on improving the user experience of your site should be a priority. As most people will be accessing a website with the expectation that it will load within 2 seconds or less, every page on your site needs to do this.
One of the other ways to be able to see how the speed is affecting your website is via Google Analytics. This will give you statistics as to what is happening when people access your site. You can use this as a method to track what happens when you optimise your page speed. You might notice a drop in the bounce rate or even an increase in session time.
Responsive & Mobile Friendly
Making a website responsive has a variety of benefits to any business. Some are to do with the customers and others to do with the SEO. A responsive and mobile friendly website means exactly what the name implies. Your website will respond to the device it is on and appear in a way that makes it easy to use on a mobile device. This is one of, if not the most important UX factors; especially with the mobile-first indexing update which is only around the corner.
Mobile-First Indexing Update
Google have updated their search algorithm to try and prioritise responsive websites over static versions. This wasn’t as effective and often enough, mobile searches were still showing poor results. Considering this, Google are pushing another update titled the mobile-first indexing update. Currently, the way the search engine generates results is by checking through the desktop version of websites before checking the mobile site. They will then base the results off the desktop version. However, this will then be reverted with this update.
Google are planning to change it so that when they are going through websites to determine their rank, they will check their mobile version first before the desktop version. The results will then be based off the mobile site. If your site is static and not responsive; you can expect to not get as good of a result when Google ranks your site. You can highly expect to see any competitors that have a responsive site to take the lead if you stay with a static site.
Increase in Mobile Users
We wouldn’t include this unless if it was important. Over the years, there has been an ever-increasing number of people searching via a mobile phone or tablet. In fact, nearly 60% of searches are now performed on a mobile phone. These people that are performing searches on a mobile phone will be expecting to come across a mobile friendly site. If they don’t, they are highly likely to bounce and head elsewhere.
A responsive website will entice people to stay on your website for longer. It is not only down to a responsive website; you do need to have good content, eye catching imagery and interesting headings. A responsive website will just allow you to convey all of this in a quick, efficient and eye catching fashion. The site is altered so that text aligns in the centre of the page, along with the rest of the content. Plus, having a navigation button that will still allow people to easily navigate through the site.
As we have mentioned, user experience is one of the many ranking factors Google has in place. They will be checking your site to ensure that it gives a good experience on any platform. A static site is not able to do this as effectively. This can lead to your search positions to start dropping. A responsive website gives an overall better user experience. Your return will then be through an improved response from your potential customers; a reduced bounce rate, and an increase in session time.
Ignoring this because you don’t want to change the site you’ve had for years can be the reason behind the downfall of your website once future Google updates are live.
Navigation through a website needs to be easy and efficient. If you make this process a hard endeavour for a customer, they will leave and go elsewhere. Ensuring that your potential customers are easily able to navigate anywhere on your site is essential to give a good user experience. Sometimes the page people land on isn’t always what they want or there is another page with more information on what they want. They will then want to be able to easily go over to that page.
Hyperlinks in the text content and an easy to see and use navigation bar is essential for this. Have a bullet point list of services? Make them all link to the corresponding pages. Doing this along with using links in your text content is a quick and easy way to enable people to quickly get to what they are looking for. Spread across the site, hyperlinks are a great way to drive conversions. Someone might land on the home page; go to one of your services pages; like what they see and then go to the contact page. This can all be through using hyperlinks.
These hyperlinks also need to be easily seen and usable. This is another reason behind having a responsive website. When viewing a static website on a mobile phone, the viewer must zoom in and scroll across to find anything they need. A responsive website will enable the user to easily spot hyperlinks and can quickly navigate to where they want to go on the site.
Clear Call to Actions (CTAs)
A call to action wants to drive people to making a conversion. Depending on the goals of your business, utilising a good navigation and clear CTAs will make it easier to drive visitors through your site and meet your goals. If your goals are to increase session time, both will aid in keeping the visitors on your site. Wish to get more conversions? Driving people with clear and concise CTAs is a great way to do this.
A CTA should entice someone to get in contact with you. This does not mean list a bunch of benefits one after another or use aggressive selling; instead give a single reason and expand on it. The rest of the page’s content should include the other benefits. The CTA is just the last step to try and finish the sale and entice the visitor to get in touch.
Navigation Bar & Button
There are usually two types of navigation options; one for desktop and another for mobile. The desktop version is what you will normally see on every site. It consists of a bar with all the different pages listed across it which when hovered over, will expand with any sub-pages it has. The mobile version is slightly different. Instead there is a button at the top of the site. This, once clicked on, will expand a side menu listing the pages on the website.
The navigation is key for people to be able to go to where they want on your site. You should not rely on hyperlinks or other forms of navigation. The main navigation bar is essential for any site. Google have already stated that the navigation of a website is very important as it helps visitors when they are looking for the content they want. It even aids search engines. The navigation enables you to detail what content you deem as important.
One of the most obvious, yet so often missed practices is to proofread your content. No matter what it is, be it a new website, re-design, additional page or article; proofreading your content before setting it live is key to remove as many spelling and grammar mistakes as possible. Sometimes there are a few that slip through which is unavoidable, but leaving in loads of mistakes will end up leaving your site looking unprofessional.
A potential customer might not notice a slight typo if it still reads the same kind of way. However, if it is a spelling mistake that is obvious or many grammar mistakes, it makes your business look very unprofessional. A potential customer will feel like you don’t care about what you have on your site or will find it difficult to read so will bounce off.
Simply correcting these mistakes to ensure that the content is easy to follow will greatly aid in keeping peoples interest. It will also aid in driving people to make contact or purchase a product. Looking professional while driving people to enquire is how you get conversions and using the right spelling and grammar helps with that.
Two Pairs of Eyes are Better Than One
Going through the content yourself, hiring a professional copywriter or getting a friend to read it will ensure that the text has been checked through before being given the all clear. Sometimes it is best to have multiple pairs of eyes to go through the content. A fresh pair of eyes might be able to spot something that others can’t.
No one is perfect. Even highly skilled journalists, copywriters and book writers are very unlikely to write a lot of content without making a mistake. Therefore, it is always best to get someone else involved when looking to proofread your content. Showing your best image straight away is how you grab a customer’s attention and keep it.
Hiring a Copywriter
Don’t have the time to write the content or proofread it? Hiring a copywriter is exactly what you need. It will cost you, but the content will be professionally written and checked by professionals to ensure most if not all the spelling and grammar mistakes are detected. You can then get along with your business while the copywriter does their work.
If you are getting a new website or a re-design, your web design agency should be able to supply you with a professional copywriter if that is a service they supply. If not, there are plenty out there for you to be able to hire and get the content you are after.
Continuing the subject of content; it needs to be relevant. It is all good that spelling and grammar mistakes are sorted, but what good is that if the content doesn’t make sense. Imagine us talking about utilising UX practices on your site, but then putting a picture of a unicorn next to the text. Wouldn’t make sense, would it? In fact, it can be quite confusing and put people off. Ensuring all content, be it text or graphics, follow what the page is about is an easy way to keep people on the page.
When someone visits a page on your site, they expect to be informed about the main subject of that page. Let’s use a roofing company as an example. Someone accesses a ‘Felt Roofing’ page. They will be expecting to see information and images of felt roofing before moving on. This is the way it should be to keep them on your site. However, if they were to access this page and it was referencing kittens and puppies; they will be highly confused.
Relevant text needs to be on every page of your site. There are no exceptions and you need to give the best experience possible throughout. Removing the chances of your visitors being confused is a great step at improving conversions and session times. A confused customer is a lost sale. Sometimes confusion can be used to your advantage depending on the business, but for most companies out there; it is best to keep things simple.
Pushing The Benefits
A customer will arrive at your site looking for something specific. If they find it and like the look of your website, they are highly likely to stick around. Now this is where the headers come in. Utilising effective headers that grab the viewers’ attention and make them choose you is an effective way to not only drive conversion, but give an overall better UX.
A header should immediately detail what page a user is viewing, but also detail why they should choose you over another business. As shown in the structure we used earlier in the article, you will be directing people through the page and then driving them to make a conversion. The H1 should push a viewer to read the leading paragraph. The leading paragraph should push them to read the text and so on. It gives the users what they are after while pushing the benefits of your business.
Graphics And Media
Remove the images from this article and what do you get? A page full of text. It would look highly unappealing and not very eye catching. In fact, people would be more likely to leave the article if there weren’t images to break the page up. This applies to all forms of graphics and media used on websites. An image not only gives an immediate indication of what the page is about, it makes the content look more attractive and appealing.
In line with keeping the images relevant, they will also grab attention. When someone accesses the site, they will make their decision on if they want to use you or not within a matter of seconds. During this time, the page they land on needs to convince them that they do want to look further into your business. You do this through using quality images and enticing content.
All the areas mentioned in this article are important and graphics are no different. Each practice greatly aids others in improving the user experience. However, grabbing the initial attention is very important to keep people on the site. If you don’t interest them enough to keep them on the site straight away; they will go elsewhere to a site that does captivate them.
High Quality Graphics
Any graphic that is placed on your site needs to be of a high quality. Simply using a poor quality or blurry image or video will not work. Either through hiring a professional photographer or getting a better camera can greatly aid in boosting the user experience on your site. An image that has been taken and optimised for use on a website will greatly benefit you in the long run compared to a small image taken on an old phone. High quality images convey a message and detail what the page is much clearer.
High quality images are still important for articles as they are normal business pages. If you are unable to take the pictures yourself or hire a professional to do it for you; there are plenty of places online to download them. Stock photo websites are not short in numbers and everyone has a wide variety of images stored. All the images on them are free to download and use for your own needs. Some stock photo websites will require a subscription such as Shutterstock before you can use the images.
Not something everyone thinks of, but images can be found in search. Like when doing a normal search, you can search for images. Google have a separated section for this and if your image is optimised with a suitable alt tag; you have a chance to be found within search. Using the correct tags and description behind the image will enable people to find it in search which can direct them to your site. This isn’t much for user experience, but it greatly aids in directing people to your site.
Have videos on your products or services? Get a YouTube account. You can be found for your videos in normal search as well as when people do searches on YouTube itself. Utilising different types of media greatly aids in the chances of people finding you.
Your user experience is a very important factor, not only for your conversions, but for your SEO as well. We can’t choose any of the above practices and say why it’s the best. However, what we can say is that you should follow every one of them to get the best out of your website. Both SEO and UX work closely together now and if you don’t keep up with that then you can expect to fall behind.
If you need a new website or a re-design that gives your potential customers the best experience; get in contact with us today and speak to our expert web designers.