What is UX, Anyway?
The beginnings of the term User Experience, also known as "UX" are controversial, but it originated at some point during the '90's to describe the way a person feels about using a product or service. It's an enormous concept that quickly gets pretty confusing - how the same person would feel using a website back in 2006 is much different than how they'd feel today, due to the fact that technology is very dynamic. If writing code scares you, why should you care anyway?
The ROI of UX Is INSANE
IBM has found through that every dollar invested in ease-of-use returns between $10 and $1000. That's an ROI of at least 1000%, but it could also be much higher. People don't want to work hard to spend their money. If your website makes it hard to reach the check-out line, they might just leave. Here are the seven of the most common and annoying UX mistakes:
1. Difficult Browsing
Microsoft Research has found that the average web page visit lasts less than one minute. The first 10 seconds of a user's time on the site are critical - during this time, the user's eyes will gauge whether the company is trustworthy and the website is user-friendly. Navigation is critical, and if your options look anything like the following, your average page visit probably isn't even 10 seconds:
2. Splash Pages
UX experts have been talking about how splash pages are almost always a terrible idea since 2007. For the unitiated, it's a home page that offers no options aside from "enter the site." There's no actual content, and the load times are generally really long. The one time you could maybe get away with using a splash page? If you've got website visitors who speak multiple languages, as illustrated in the example below:
3. Horizontal Scroll Bars
What's the problem with horizontal scroll bars? People know how to scroll, right? Well, as it turns out, there's plenty wrong.
It's Weird. Most websites don't horizontal scroll. The space in your prospects' minds during their first website visit is precious and you don't want them focused on thinking "horizontal scrolling. That's weird."
Space is Valuable. In the most-common resolution, a horizontal scroll bar takes up 1000 x 17 pixels - that's half the size of an average banner. You could advertise half an eBook in the space a scroll bar takes up.
People Don't Scroll Down. The best web designers focus on getting all critical information above the fold, because research has indicated people don't always scroll down. Chances are, they're not going to scroll sideways, either.
4. Information Overload
It's been said that the dirtiest word among user experience professionals is complexity. Why? Because complex things are often confusing, too. It's not that simplicity is necessarily superior, it's just that simpler things are easier to use. That's why Apple's renowned for the design of their iPod - nearly anyone can pick one up and figure out how to use it in seconds. If your website resembles an airplane cockpit or explosion of text and images, you're doing it wrong. This includes using too many fonts, too many images, too little white space or failing to format your text so it's scannable.
5. Painful Color Schemes
Your website could be ranked #1 and still suffering a terrible conversion rate if your color is off. Color is a powerful small business branding tool, and poor contrast makes for a pretty terrible user-experience. People shouldn't have to squint or fiddle with their contrast to read the text on your web page. It's also important that your clickable text appears clickable.
6. Liberal Use of Pop-Ups
This is slightly controversial, but a little bit of pop-up action isn't necessarily a bad thing. Wordpress David Wells of Inbound Now sometimes uses one to invite people to subscribe to his blog. So does Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion. The pop-up below via Mind Valley insights is an example of one that's not too disruptive to the prospect's experience:
This one isn't too bad because the pop-up clearly resembles the web page behind it, so it doesn't damage the page visitor's trust. It's clear how you can close the pop-up if you're just not interested. People don't always mind being interrupted, as long as it's relatively easy to resume their activity. If your website has copious pop-ups and it's hard to close them, you're probably trying too hard.
7. Not Mobile Optimizing
52% of web users have said that a bad mobile-browsing experience makes them more likely to engage with a company's competitor. Failing to optimize your site for mobile phones and tablets is actually driving away your business! What's even more shocking is the fact that 78% of mobile users don't want to click more than once or twice to get where they're going on their smart phone. Your website needs to be clean, simple and ready for viewing on the go.
Image Credit: freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles
Following the success of last week's post 7 Principles of Effective Web Design for People Who Can't Code, we're starting a series on the nuts and bolts of effective web design for small businesses. Tune in soon for coverage of graphic design basics and websites that convert!