Undoubtably 2016 will continue to see a strong shift by designers towards easier to use, user focussed designs. The days of keyword stuffing and content-heavy websites seem a distant memory, Google, consumer demand & online marketers have all played a major role in this advance.
Thank you Google
Algorithms such as Panda, have allowed online marketers and designers to step firmly away from “Google Friendly” webpages, which consisted of large chunks of content produced solely for the Google search algorithm to crawl & rank highly in the SERPS. Online marketers are now able to focus directly on the consumer, delivering a higher quality of website & a better user experience.
Thank you Online Guru’s
With this being said, I believe online marketers, web designers, SEO’s & just all round online guru’s also deserve a pat on the back for daring to question the norm & for thinking outside the box when it comes to design & marketing. Our now ever changing industry is evolving faster than it has ever done previously & it is our job as marketing consultants to embrace the change & deliver better UX to our consumers.
Thank you Consumer Demand
With all that being said I believe the consumer also deserves a massive thank you. Why? Consumers are now in the drivering seat when it comes to them consuming content online. Tech savvy customers now expect or more accurately demand a better user experience from the websites they visit and use.
Did you know over 70% of buying experiences are now influenced by how the customer feels they have been treated online. The small bugs found on your website will now be dramatically effecting your sales.
Establish UX Goals & Allow Them To Influence Design
Before jotting down pretty design ideas or planning a crazy parallax experience for your customers website, step back and ask yourself or more importantly you customers to answer a few key questions.
1 What Does Your Business Actually Do?
It sounds like such an obvious question however you would be surprised how many designers plough ahead with a design before they really understand the business they are serving. Gaining a thorough understanding of who they are, what they have accomplished & the services they offer, will allow you to deliver a better design, a better user experience & provide a better customer service over the course of the project.
2 What do you want your site to accomplish?
Understanding this step will greatly impact both the design & the overall marketing. What are the actions you want visitors to take when they land on your website. Common actions include:
- Generate quote requests
- Lead Generation
- Raise Brand Awareness
- Improve Brand Identity
- Proof of Quality of Work
Not all business are after increased sales or enquiries, often the purpose of a website is to increase brand awareness, improve the brands identity or to act as a sales tool for customers looking to view previous work.
Once we know the purpose of the website, it is then vital we establish back up scenario’s. For example lets say a customers doesn’t purchase via the website, what other actions shall we focus on the customer achieving which will benefit the business indirectly, for example using social sharing links to help build brand awareness.
3 What actions will your customers be looking to take
Although at a glance this question looks similar to “What do you want your site to accomplish” it is quite significantly different. This isn’t about what the business wants to achieve, this is asking the business owner to step into the shoes of its customers and to understand what they want. A good example could be an IT company looking to generate more enquiries, although the IT company wants new sales leads, existing customers may be visiting the site looking for remote IT support.
It is crucial you explore all potential avenues as the answers this question reveals will make the difference between a successful and an average website.
Allowing Customer Information to Influence UX goals
Once you have detailed information on the above three points, allow the information to influence the design and UX. Often designers ask the above questions but completely ignore the findings. When designing the user experience we should be considering the following:
Calls to action – Now we know the goals for the website & understand the customers expectations, lets establish clear calls to action throughout the design to suit.
Unique Selling Points – The information we gathered from point 1 “What does your business actually do?” should give us a detailed insight as to what is unique about this business, it is vital we use these USP’s throughout the design as it may well be this information which secures a sale or enquiry. If you offer free shipping, shout about it! If you offer unquestionable customer service, make sure visitors know!
Exposure – Visitors should be able to share your website easily on their social channels, not only can this quite quickly build up a buzz about your brand but can influence others who may not otherwise have been aware of your service to get in touch or purchase from your store.
Action – So we have ticked every box so far, we have produced an easy to navigate site, with clear calls to action, we have built the consumer intent by pushing what it unique about the business, we have ensured that customers can easily follow or share the website with their friends and peers, thats everything right. NO!
You now need to make sure it is easy for the visitor to make the desired action, whether that is to checkout of your store or to get a quote you need to ensure that this process is as smooth and takes as little steps as possible. Ensure your design caters to this desired action, so include clear contact forms & contact information throughout the design, or clear calls to action so visitors can checkout from the store and purchase what is in their basket. Once the website is built, both the client & yourself should be testing this buying process once, twice, three times and then checking it some more. The amount of sales lost at this stage is truly shocking, be sure your aren’t going to be loosing business at the very last step.
Continuing to Monitor the website Once Live
Be sure to monitor the analytics, create funnels in your accounts so you can clearly view what visitors and doing and where they are dropping off. Then use the information gathered over the course of a couple of months to tweak the design. By following this process you will ensure that your customers websites evolves with it’s customers & is never left behind.