How does your website appear to first-time visitors?
If you’re not entirely sure, you definitely should be. Some 96% of first-time visitors to your company’s website aren’t ready to make a purchase. If your website is slow to load, difficult to navigate, or just plain ugly, you might be out of luck. It could be their first and last visit.
The world’s most effective websites have no learning curve. They’re attractive, wicked fast, and funnel users seamlessly towards high-quality content resources. These awesome websites are actual conversion machines. Most of us know an attractive website when we see it. But what exactly is it that these great sites do differently?
Why UX Matters
Even some seasoned marketing professionals can have a misunderstanding of user experience (ux). For non-technical types, it can seem like an approach to web design. This is actually a common misconception. User experience is about more than just interfaces and navigation. It’s about creating a comprehensive, positive online brand experience .
More precisely, user experience is about “identifying and designing the relationship” between people and technology. As a marketer, you define how people perceive your brand and your product. As a ux-savvy marketing technologist, you define how individuals perceive and interact with your brand on the web and mobile devices.
That said, great ux isn’t easy. Not easy at all. Between rapidly changing consumer behavior, updates in web design best practices, and changes in Google’s algorithm, exceptional user experience is a lot to keep up with. We’ll be honest - we’ve been guilty of some of the most common mistakes. To save you from the same embarrassment, we’ve compiled a list of some super common user experience errors enterprises and SMBs make almost daily:
1. Lack of Responsive Design
We cannot emphasize this factor enough. Your website must be mobile optimized. And even “mobile design” isn’t enough. Your website must be responsive, which means that the page elements adjust according to the size of the screen they’re being viewed on.
The following landing page, designed via HubSpot’s COS, is perfectly optimized for a mobile screen:
image credit: hubspot
There isn’t an overwhelming amount of information that’s jam-packed into a small screen size. The font is easy-to-read, even for individuals who may require reading glasses. Best of all, the buttons are sufficiently big that they’re totally clickable on a small phone screen. Take heed; because this is what a responsive web page should look like.
2. It’s Basic
Content on the right, extensive landing page form on the right. We’ve all grown accustomed to boring, basic landing pages and website design. You know exactly what I’m talking about; boring web pages that feel like they’ve had exactly zero design or content expertise applied.
Basic web pages aren’t bad. But they’re positively uninspiring. Do you need to apply a bit more design expertise than normal? Unless your product or service is positively singular, the answer is “most likely.” Most companies need a unique value proposition (UVP) to stand out in their niche. Your landing pages and user experience design should be an extension of this unique value that you provide to prospects.
Web developer Christopher James cites the following example as an illustration of positive ux, and we admit that we can’t disagree. It’s weird and extremely basic, but effective.. First-time viewers are dosed with a heavy shot of brand image, and have exactly no questions about how to become leads. Between imagery and conversion opportunities, strive for something like the following in terms of your web design:
image credit: christopher james bk
3. Rambling (or Insufficient) Copy
Look, we understand. It’s really dang hard to write copy for major web pages that your prospects can understand. This fact is why it’s crucial for inbound marketers to stay on top of behavioral psychology studies and other clues towards consumer behavior; and respond accordingly.
The latest research on how prospects interact with web pages indicates that website visitors make a snap judgement on your website in exactly 3-5 seconds. That’s not much time at all! It’s exactly enough to perceive the images, and briefly scan the copy. For this reason, your content needs to be really concise, but also fleshed out enough to tell your entire story. In just a few words. We love the following example from ux organization KNOA, because it’s immensely comprehensive (but brief):
image credit: licdn
4. Lack of Assertiveness
Where should your viewers look? Where should their attention go? If you haven’t taken the time to be assertive in terms of directionals on your current website, never fear. You're far from alone.
The concept of directing your website visitors’ attention through assertiveness in design may feel extreme, but it’s far from new. Great brands, like Apple, have been doing this for decades,
While the following example is clearly made up for illustration’s sake, it’s more than worth checking out:
image credit: uxmag
As a designer or inbound marketer, you have full control over where your viewers’ eyes go. Effective design will direct your viewers’ eyes towards conversion opportunities and calls to action, without feeling remotely contrived or affected. Great design is a tool for naturally directing viewer's’ attention without aggression or confusion. It’s simple but clear, just like the above example from UXmag.
5. Too Much Design
There is a thing as overly aggressive design. It’s a lot less common than super basic, boring design, but it occurs occasionally. While it may be tempting to turn your homepage into a difficult-to-navigate infographic if you’ve got a complex business model, trust us. It never works well.
However, it is completely possible to manage high volumes of information without being guilty of confusing or aggressive design. Take the following positive example from WuFoo:
image credit: wufoo/dandelion films
Thanks to the simple design and multi-colored placement of WuFoo’s features, they’re able to effectively communicate their products features without overwhelming first-time viewers. With a more complex design, or even worse, a list-style layout, the volume of information could be completely off-putting to first-time website visitors.
What are some of the user experience mistakes you’ve made during your time online? Share your most raw confessions in the comments!
image credit: bk/flickr/cc