The user is the focus of any website, but poor UX design can make or break your site and crush conversion rates.
A brand’s website is the shop front of any business and first impressions are everything. The user experience design of the site is the deciding factor, as to whether a user stays on the site to look around, or jumps away to find something better.
When visiting a company's website, users often have a purpose or objective that they want to be able to execute immediately. The longer it takes for them to reach their goal, the less likely they are to convert and become a loyal, returning customer.
For many businesses, it is the initial planning stage where mistakes are frequently made. Simple tasks such as detailed user research and mapping user journeys are often forgotten about or rushed through, having a knock on effect on the site as a whole.
The user needs to be at the centre of a website, with all design elements built up around how this visitor will be using the site, and what the business needs those users to do.
For example, when designing a fast and effective checkout process, the user should be the main point of call, thinking about how quickly they want to get from A-B and how safe they feel inputting sensitive data.
To help you start your website design off right, here are 7 ways in which you can streamline your user journey and ensure minimal user drop off.
Conduct thorough user research
Before you can design the user experience of your site, you need to know exactly who your users will be and what their motivations are. You will already know what you need your site to do, but now you have to think about how your users will reach your end goal.
User research is always the first thing to be rushed through, but correctly identifying user behaviours e.g. what pages they visit, their behaviour flow and which landing pages have the highest bounce rate, will help you tailor your UX and streamline your user journey.
Only include what is absolutely necessary
It can be easy to get carried away and create convoluted websites with too much copy and too many landing pages. It’s important to take a look at your site map and take out any pages, processes or steps that may be considered unnecessary.
Make sure all the information your users might be visiting your site for is clearly labelled and easy to find, straight from the homepage.
Keeping forms minimal and un-intrusive
When it comes to features such as on-site forms, it is best to keep the fields minimal and easy to answer quickly. More often than not, users will give up on a form if it is either asking too many questions, or if it is not clear as to what information is needed. A simple name and contact number or email address is all you really need for enquiry forms, with a message box to allow users to explain the reason for their enquiry.
Keep copy short and sweet
When optimising a landing page, it can be tempting to add as much copy as possible, filled with keywords and internal links. However, though SEO is important to a new site, users should always come first. Make sure you write all your copy with them in mind, keeping it to the point and filled with relevant and useful information. Then you can revisit the copy and add in keywords and phrases for SEO purposes.
Keep the nav bar succinct
Too many category pages can become confusing and allow users to easily get lost on the site. When deciding what should be included on your nav bar, think about what information your users will be looking for as soon as they land on your site.
According to a recent survey from HubSpot, 86 per cent of site users want to be able to see products and services as soon as they land on a site. Give your users what they want on a silver platter, offering minimal steps to find exactly what they are looking for.
Keep up to date on user behaviours and trends
User research doesn’t end as soon as you’ve planned out your user journey and UX design, research should be kept up to date all year round, in order to identify changes in behaviour. Tools such as Google Analytics can help you chart the behaviour flow of your users and help you identify any bumps in your user journey that might need attending to.
User behaviours change and shifts over time, depending on the types of products and services you offer and even depending on changes to UX trends. For example, the introduction of the burger menu changed the way users expect to see a site menu and where to find the pages they are searching for.
Make sure your site is responsive
Mobile now takes up a large chunk of searches and 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for immediately on a mobile site, they would look for an alternative site. Despite users often using mobile for initial searches, the speed at which mobile users move from the top of the funnel to actual conversion is a lot faster than that of desktop.
Mobile users want ease of use and speed, they want to be able to jump onto a site, find what they are searching for and complete their goal swiftly. Mobile users are also more likely to convert, as they are often looking to buy or enquire ‘on the go’.
Ensuring a streamlined user journey ensures your users have the best chance to convert. It helps to improve the reputation of both your brand and your website and can also generate loyal, recurring customers. By not sacrificing functionality for beauty and keeping your UX design user focused and to the point, your site will be able to serve both you and your customers to optimum capacity.
Catherine Crawford, USIO
Image search: Shutterstock/nenetus