A friend of mine recently launched his wedding video website. The site looked very nice: clean, modern and clearly laid out. It also had some nice big videos showcasing his work which are exceptional. So in general a great start to his business’ online profile. After looking around a bit longer I couldn’t help but want to give him some user experience (UX) advice to help his site work better for him.
So in the same vein I thought I’d share 5 user experience tips with you to help your site:
1. Clear Navigation & Menu Item Wording
Simple things to make sure your site navigation is sorted out:
- Use one or two words for each item heading.
- Use common terminology for menu items – e.g. Home, About Us, Contact – you might think it’s clever or fresh to use something different but if people can’t find “the answers” easily they may not stick around.
- Try not to be ambiguous with your headings e.g. “events” could mean coming events but you may be meaning book your event here.
- Use drop downs, secondary menus or independent call-to-actions to uncrowd a menu e.g. “book now” or “get a quote” buttons.
- Make sure the menu area stands out by using colour and size. This does not mean making it big and gawdy-looking either – think tasteful.
2. Don’t look too different
It’s great to “stand out” but sometimes this can make your site inaccessible. With a business website it should be about answering people’s questions quickly and clearly, turning them into happy clients/customers. It’s not about presenting them with a folding paper cube that is animated so when people get the right combination of clicks the cube unfolds to reveal your site menu … you get the picture
3. Don’t look at other people’s sites and copy
“But wait you said not to be too different?” Right, and I’m still saying that. Often what I see is people all caught up in what their “competition” is doing. They look at their site and figure that what they see must be working for them – erm no. You don’t know how many internet conversions they are getting. You don’t know how high their bounce rate is. So don’t take cues from their site.
- Take cues from your own customers or better still get some people who have never seen your site to check it out and do some user testing.
- Take cues from best practices for websites, there are plenty of great resources out there on this topic.
- Don’t trust your own opinions or feelings – I have seen this destroy perfectly good websites because someone doesn’t like “black” or someone gets tired of their “old” design which is only 6 months old. Do you think big brands got where they are today by changing their website design based on emotion and opinion?
4. Contact Details
Here are some questions:
Where is your phone number? How big is it? Is it on every page at the top so people can find it no matter where they are in the website? Should you include your phone number in your meta description?
Do you have clear location details on your contact page so people don’t have to go to Google Maps to find you? Do you specify a service area?
Do you have a contact form? Is it worth including that form on the left or right side of every page so people don’t have to click through to the contact page?
5. The Call-to-Action
Lastly, how are you helping people find things on your site and encouraging them to complete the MDA (most desirable action)?
In a lot of cases people build a website and the thought process goes something like this: Admiring the website – “Wow, the new site looks great. Now we’re on the internet the business is sure to start rolling in.”
Unfortunately the “business rolling in” goal wasn’t really addressed at the website level when the site was being designed and built and so there is no clear CTA (Call-to-Action). There is no button that says “View our Product Gallery” on the homepage and when they click through to the Product Gallery page there is no nicely laid out contact form which prompts them to a get a quote. So much for that business rolling in.
I remember a conversation with a savvy client who was wondering why they weren’t getting many internet enquiries even though their website traffic was strong. When I took a good look over the site it was pretty obvious. There was no contact form, the phone number was buried in the back of the site etc. We added a sidebar contact form and the phone number to the homepage and watched the enquires soar.
The same client was then in the market for a site refresh. This time we were starting from scratch so we could “get it right” from the start. We designed the site to promote 4 CTAs: A quote calculator, the same contact form on each page as the previous incarnation of the site and two monthly specials all arranged in strategic visual positions. Conversions doubled and are still rising. Enough said.
Old Website – Nice looking but not so great User Experience
Wrapping Up & Scoring a Goal
I’ve touched upon a number of user experience areas that you can address on your own website or if you’re ready to build or refresh a website. There are plenty more areas that need to be looked at to help your site address its primary and secondary goals… you have those written down don’t you? Putting a website up and hoping for the best is not going to fly these days. At least having some goals for your site will help you to build a more “focussed” website which answers visitor’s questions and encourages them to complete the MDAs (most desirable actions).
As always, if you need some help with your site be it SEO, Website Design or User Experience testing and optimising give us a call (1300 733 088) or use our contact form. (notice how I helped you out in finding those…)