If you need to build a business website, you’ve heard the term “user experience” countless times. You acknowledge you need a website that is easy to use for everyone to sell more. And while most of the responsibility for that falls on your web agency, there are several important bits you need to know about UX as the website manager.
In this article, we won’t dive deep into the specifics of user experience. As the owner or manager of your website, you don’t need to learn about interaction or user interface design. Instead, we will focus on the UX aspects of the website that you can elevate.
Let’s define UX first:
User experience is how the visitor feels about interactions on your website. It applies to all aspects of your site – from copywriting, through visuals and functionality, all the way to marketing and communications.
It’s a relatively new branch of web design and development. We won’t scrutinise every field of UX. In some publications, these go into double digits. Instead, as promised, we’ll briefly define UX and tell you how you can contribute to improving it on your website – both when getting a new website and post-launch.
We need to acknowledge that user experience doesn’t work for everyone the same way. The two most important things that you need to consider on your website are:
Even two websites from the same industry, offering the same services, won’t be identical. That’s because of different user personas and sales funnels. It’s important to keep it in mind, as “best practices” and mirroring the efforts of successful brands can have a negative effect on your digital sales.
Optimising for your audience is an area where you have much more impact. It’s definitely the harder of the two, but you can get involved at multiple stages of the project.
User research and creating user personas is the foundation of the research and strategy phase. Your input here will be invaluable for your web agency. No two audiences are alike and there’s nobody that knows them better than you or your marketing team.
For most budgets of small businesses and even medium enterprises, user research will cover on-site analysis and most importantly, your input. Your knowledge will lay the groundwork for making educated choices in the next phases of the project. It’s crucial to avoid decisions based on intuition. Your business needs a digital experience tailor-made for your customers.
Optimising funnels is easier from your point of view in the sense that it’s mostly in the hands of a web agency. You will base various user journeys on your website on the existing user personas and on the range of your products and features.
Almost every feature on your website will add one or more funnels that need to be optimised. A simple newsletter means that you can convert a client through countless funnels. Here are two examples:
It’s crucial that you’re aware of that when planning a new website. Implementing features such as newsletter, podcast directory or a blog won’t be a tremendous strain on the initial budget. However, it might become exponentially more expensive to sustain the additional sales funnels – and neglecting them post-launch will be a waste of money.
If you already have a website and it doesn’t work for your visitors, don’t make hasty decisions. You might be better off optimising it than building a fresh one from scratch. In fact, neglecting post-launch optimisation is the number one reason most websites fail. And the biggest issue here is that you can’t see it coming if you’re not aware of how complex user experience is.
To this day, many professionals aren’t afraid of saying that UX can’t be measured yet. And, to an extent, we share this opinion. Our average conversion rate optimisation project consists of weeks of data gathering and analysis. We use multiple tools to look at every interaction from all angles. Other approaches simply can’t put user experience in the user’s context. It’s one thing to identify that a certain page is not converting well enough, but a completely different story identifying why it’s not converting.
Here are two examples of how a small, data-driven change can drastically improve user experience and increase your conversions.
Let’s take the newsletter examples we’ve listed above and isolate the subscription part. Just like with any other contact form, it’s crucial to make it easy and intuitive to fill for the visitors. If you’re asking for too much personal information, you’ll lose the prospect at the early stage of converting.
Many small business websites lack a dedicated feedback form. To show you just how much value it can have, let’s bring up an example from our latest project for one of our clients. We’ve asked the visitors of an ecommerce website to pinpoint the weakest point of the product page they were viewing.
After implementing the most requested features and layout tweaks based on the responses, we’ve seen an immediate increase in sales. Even though it’s an exercise isolated from a bigger project, it shows how a minor investment can go a long way.
To further illustrate the point, let’s take a previous sales funnel and apply a single “mistake” at one step. The user journey would be as following:
Let’s focus on the last step – “getting in touch”. As many case studies prove, even a single additional field in a contact form can prove to be quite costly. For Expedia, removing one input field earned them an additional $12 million in a year. We won’t need specific numbers to showcase the issue. Let’s just put yourself in the shoes of the visitor to see how much it will affect you.
Assuming a needless contact form field, visitors that won’t convert have now went through a significant part of a sales process just to have a seemingly small issue stop them from converting. In the above example, this one field has negatively affected your:
Naturally, the more steps in the funnel, the more impact it has.
“I don’t like my website” is a valid reason to get a fresh one, but it’s not the most profitable one. Obviously, it has to work for both you and your visitors. If you hate your website, it’s likely not making you enough money. But your visitors see it differently.
If you’re struggling to use your site or think it’s outdated, that’s an excellent indication that it needs to be looked into. But it’s not what should decide how you proceed. Working closely together with experts from a web agency will yield the best results.
Creating the ultimate user experience for your visitors should be your priority. Optimising a business website can lead to more than doubled sales because it affects all areas of your company. It’s your storefront and your most important digital marketing tool. If it’s underperforming, every single digital investment becomes less profitable.
Originally published May 12, 2020 3:48:30 PM, updated October 22 2020.