Quick tips on user experience for your web site

For most companies, a web site is a fundamental tool of marketing and lead generation. It all began in having a site to showcase your products and services, and then you had to have an online store. Not to forget to ever-elusive blog page. And lately, you now must have a social media presence, from tweeting to liking pages on your site. But across all the must haves and checklists of things we must do, we often overlook user experience. What makes your site compelling to visit? Why should I come back? I am finding what I am looking for that will make me buy what you do? Online marketers should take a break from tracking unique visitors you are getting and measure instead measure the user experience. While this can sometimes be measured in terms of bounce rate, you can simply take a stroll on your site like if it was the first time. You might discover a few problems. Here is my quick list of usual suspects:

Target users

Who are you selling to? You better understand the buyer persona that you are trying to attract. For example: making a hip and snazzy looking site that is targeted at finance people might not be the right approach (they most likely will prefer a simple design with immediate access to stats and visual dashboards on ROI, etc).

Focus on message

What is your website saying? Visitors should get a good understanding of what you do and why you are relevant in a few lines (think of your cocktail pitch put on a web site…). Unless I am crystal clear on what you do and why I am here, you will need to educate me about your value proposition and competitive advantage.

Every page is a landing page

Don’t spend too much time just tuning the main page. While being the first page that many people will see, today’s search engines bring people directly to the relevant page as much as possible. Don’t assume that people will all start from the same place. Every page should have a meaning and an ability to quickly put the visitor in context.

Minimize navigation

Everybody hates searching on a web site for what they need, even more when you need to click a handful of time to just get started. Again, if you know you buyer persona, you should be able to place everything they needs within one or two clicks. While adding a search bar can be convenient, it is not the right way to fix a faulty and confusing web site.

What are you looking for?

If you are looking to capture leads or sell a product, make this an obvious and simple process. Many companies will ask you to fill a form in order to download something, make the process as enjoyable as possible. For example, don’t ask me to fill in something and then get someone in inside sales to review my request. People in today’s world expect downloads to be automated. Nothing more frustrating than to wait for a couple of days and then getting someone trying to sell me something before I am ready. There is nothing wrong in trying to convert business, just don’t make it annoying or painful.

Keep testing your site

Managers spend a great deal of time testing a brand new web site and then they go away. This should be an on-going process; to make sure that everything is running fine, that the user experience is not broken (don’t wait for someone to email you if something does not work, fix it before).  Getting regular focus groups is another good way of making sure you have not missed the mark. Even more when your site is your primary source of revenue generation; you can’t afford to have a bad user experience.

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