If you eat out at a swanky restaurant and the service is poor, chances are you won’t return. Likewise, if you stay at a hotel in Australia that doesn’t put you in your requested room with a view, then you’re unlikely to come back in the future or recommend it to a friend. The same applies in the online world, more specifically to do with UX design and the first impressions visitors to a website get.
UX design essentially means user experience and how a website’s functionality is perceived by its visitors. Although there is no commonly accepted definition of UX design, its focus is generally on a variety of different aspects of an average interactive website experience. For example, website speed optimization is one of the most important ingredients behind any website’s success. After all, most web surfers find a slow loading website painful to navigate. As a result of this, a website’s traffic can take a hit, which can, in turn, have a dramatic effect on any potential revenue streams and, ultimately, cost a website a great deal of money. Additionally, UX design can focus on the beauty and design of a website. If a visitor isn’t particularly keen on the logo and accompanying website artwork, then they’re less likely to return. Essentially, if a website visitor isn’t enjoying themselves while exploring a specific website, then that’s a UX design issue.
A website’s success can certainly come down to whether or not the UX design has been successfully carried out. If a person isn’t interacting with a product, system, or service in the manner that it’s intended for, then there’s an evident user experience flaw that needs addressing.
Without a memorable user experience, people simply won’t return, as pointed out by Martyn Reding, Head of Digital Experience at Virgin Atlantic. He said: “User experience design is the culmination of content, research, design and strategy and its effect on the delivery, selling and use of a digital product or service. In many instances, a user experience happens by the incidental smashing together of code and assumptions about people, so I think the distinction is in brands that recognize the value of a carefully crafted digital experience. In many ways, it is the fulfillment of a brand’s promise and recognition that how customers feel has a huge commercial impact.”
First impressions matter, especially around website speed optimization
As we’ve touched on already, a key aspect behind any successful website is how it functions and how users experience it overall. If a website doesn’t function properly, then a user simply won’t return, and it will struggle to succeed. You can have the most visually pleasing interface online, but if the user is waiting 30 seconds for a new page to load up or a specific webpage is constantly freezing, then they’ll remember a site for all the wrong reasons. These types of failures can be noticed within seconds of loading up a site also, making first impressions vitally important. Users essentially want something that loads up quickly, is easily accessible, and is simple to grasp from the offset. A slow loading, messy website is a sure-fire way of turning people off immediately and making sure that they never return.
Always assess user profiles
In order to develop a website’s UX design further and to help create a pleasurable website to visit, it’s important to understand a website’s target audience and why exactly they’d want to visit a specific site. To do this, it’s worth creating an ideal visitor in terms of age, location, and job title, and then understanding exactly why they might be visiting a particular website and what exactly they’re looking for. Getting to know a target demographic is vitally important with regards to any product, but especially a website that relies on traffic and enticing people back for more. To gain an even clearer understanding of a target audience, many webmasters use a variety of analytics tools that track user behavior and can determine exactly where a website’s traffic is coming from and the type of people accessing it. Once a website knows its audience, it’s far more likely to provide a preferred user experience that suits them.
Take time building the interface
Once an understanding of the target audience has been established, the next step is inevitably to develop the website in more detail and test the interface to gain an understanding of exactly what a visit to the site in question entails. With some websites under strict launch deadlines and others simply excited to launch immediately, it can be a process that is occasionally rushed and doesn’t quite go to plan. With that in mind, taking the right amount of time needed to build the interface and to assess what a website’s potential wave of visitors need is vitally important. Assessing the website’s usability on a variety of different devices, such as mobiles, tablets, computers, and laptops is fundamental to ensuring a well-rounded user experience. In fact, how a website looks and feels when being viewed on a smartphone device is particularly important, especially when factoring in that mobile web traffic has now surpassed desktop traffic. If a website’s experience isn’t matched across all devices, then success will be hard to come by, particularly on mobile.
Mapping the user journey is important
Another key component of any UX process is the creation of a flowchart that maps the user journey once they’re on a website. This will not only help a webmaster understand a website’s audience further, but it will also enable any future UX plans to be implemented with those specific findings in mind. Once a user’s website habits have been established, a website’s design and structure can be tweaked accordingly.