Improving Your Site’s User Experience

Improving Your Site’s User Experience

When it comes to web design, the quality of experience that users have with a site determines whether it’s successful or not – regardless of how visually catchy the design is. A positive experience drives sales and conversions, while a negative one deters visitors from staying or returning. Therefore performance optimization should be a central part of your design process if you’re aiming for high conversions and user satisfaction. Here are some ways to improve your site’s user experience.

Increase Site Speed

Consider how many people take out their phones to quickly check email or look something up when they have a spare second in the day. Whether it’s while waiting for the bus, standing in line for coffee or running to a meeting, they expect to achieve their goal on the web in that short amount of time. Forty percent of users will abandon a page after waiting longer than 3 seconds, and many people share their bad site experiences with others. It’s your job as a designer to make sure your site is loading fast enough to satisfy these standards and to make sure yours provides an experience that gets positive feedback.

To begin the process of improving your speed, first use a site speed testing tool to measure how it’s currently performing. Then make changes like:

  • Resize or remove large images and files
  • Reduce the number of plug-ins in your site
  • Eliminate flash files, which greatly weigh down performance
  • Cache your site so that it won’t have to take time to fully assemble every time a user accesses it
  • Always retest your speed after making changes so you know what is effective in improving it.

Clean Up Your Navigation

Reassess your navigation system: does your menu and search field honor conventions in that they are easily identifiable and usable? Minimize the number of options users have when entering your site by combining pages/content and getting rid of low-traffic pages. The fewer options there are, the more direct your site’s purpose is, and the easier it is for users to decide where they want to go. You can evaluate how users currently use your site by carrying out usability tests and referring to your site analytics data.

Mercy Online

Mercy Online

This site has a visible search box, an option to easily subscribe to a newsletter and a few clickable links to navigate to other pages.

Aim For High Conversion Rates

You can be sure that a high converting website is also highly usable. Focus on the usability of your site, and user satisfaction (and in turn, conversions) will follow. To maximize usability:

  • Make your purpose clear. Use recognizable and concise calls-to-action so that users know exactly what they are meant to do with your site. Show users the value your product or service will add to their lives.
  • Be consistent. Make sure each page of your site sends the same message, and shares the style of design elements and layout.
  • Make text readable. Tailor your content to be easily perceived while users scan the page. Headlines, variations in font sizes and weights, and breaks in text blocks create a breathable set of information that can be retained even while glancing through it.
  • Keep it simple. Comparable to the fact that simple navigation makes it easier for users to decide what to do, simplicity in your entire site design keeps users from being overwhelmed with information. Ample white space and a unified style give users a sense of comfort and professionalism, and builds their confidence that they’ll find what they’re looking for quickly.
Red Digital Agency

Red Digital Agency

Red presents a good balance of white space, imagery, text and color to reveal its purpose and capture attention.

Build Trust

Visitors to your site will have a more positive experience if they can trust you. Whether it’s the validity of your information, your protection of their personal information or confidence in the quality of your product, it’s important to give them reason to trust you. You can do this by providing visible contact information, allowing customer feedback, presenting previous customer testimonials and/or client logos, and displaying your SSL certificate if you have a registration or checkout page.

When working to improve your site’s user experience, just remember to consider what your audience is looking for, and test and measure the changes you make to create a more effective and usable site.

by Luke Clum

Luke is a designer and front end developer from Seattle. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum

Articles

6 Comments

  1. marie says:

    I always have a problem how to speed up my website. I have used a caching plugin and my website is now a bit faster. Right now, I still have to work on improving conversion. Thanks a lot for these suggestions!

    1. Luke Clum says:

      Hey Marie, I'm glad you found the article helpful! Good luck with your site.

  2. Ehsan says:

    This article is perfect! Thanks a lot, Luke!

  3. I would like add small point in "Build Trust" that I have learned from my past experience. Visitors are now reluctant to trust on reviews as they can be fake and misleading.
    To develop trust one should provide the the pictures and introduction of your team and If you have any video related to your company environment or Office then best is to share that video as I can see anything better than that. ~ Alastair Brian

  4. The article is really informative, I'm using Google PageSpeed to speed up my site! ;)

  5. jerralyn says:

    Hi Luke, thank you for sharing this. These are all basic, but they are really essential. Thanks again Luke!

Add Comment

Add a Reply

HTML is escaped automatically. Surround code blocks with <pre></pre> for readability.
Perks:   **bold**   __italics__   [some text](http://example.com) for links