UX Lessons from the world's most successful Social Media websites

UX Lessons From The World’s Most Successful Social Media Sites

If you’re looking to improve the user experience (UX) of your website, then you must, first of all, understand exactly what it means to you and your business to offer a good UX; only then can you fine tune the smaller mechanics that make your website tick.

In a nutshell, user experience refers to the experience a person has when using a product; in this case, your product is your website. As a consumer yourself, you’ll know that when you’re looking for something, you want your needs met as quickly and positively as possible. When individuals are visiting your website they want just that, a positive experience and it’s up to you to give it to them.

Did you know that 88% of online consumers will actually refrain from returning to your site after they have had a bad experience? That is why it is very important to get the user experience spot on. You want to do everything you can to retain onsite visitors as they will ultimately lead to customers.

When it comes to great UX, you should take a leaf out of the books of some of the world’s most successful social media sites. The success of these social media sites has come from them simply offering a great user experience; the people behind websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter invest a lot of time and resources into implementing an impressive user experience that keeps their visitors coming back, time and time again.

There are many factors that these popular social media sites carefully consider when it comes to user experience. By paying attention to these details, they are able to deliver an engaging platform that website visitors love to be on and guess what? You can do exactly the same.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “Is my website useful?” You need to ensure that you have a specific value that is going to benefit potential customers; if you’re not offering any valuable content then, unfortunately, they won’t stick around to explore it further.

The next question you need to answer is, “Is my website desirable?” You’ll know for yourself, that the design of some of the most popular social media sites is pretty consistent- they are clean, simple and attractive.

Facebook is a great example for looking into user experience, a key feature on their desktop website is the side navigation bar; it has a tailored list of the relevant pages an individual user may want to visit. The sole purpose of this feature is to give the user an attractive platform to use. This plays a vital role in how Facebook secure around 1.3 million users, a day.

Site visitors want clarity and they definitely don’t want to be overwhelmed. The final question you should ask yourself is, “Is my website usable?” This may sound obvious but it is much more than simply being able to load your home page.

If you again look at a successful social media site, like Twitter, you will straight away see how easy it is to navigate around the site, you can very quickly switch between pages and as a user, this is exactly what you want.

Twitter prides itself on its desire to remain simple, which is clear from its 140 character tweet limit. A lot of considerations are made in the back end of Twitter and they are constantly adapting their users experience in order to stay up to date; for example, after finding out that over 80% of their users were browsing through Twitter on their mobile, they then invested a lot more time and money into improving their mobile experience. They put the desires of their users first and that has definitely paid off for this particular platform.

Social media sites are very clever in the way they segment their features, nothing is forced in your face however everything can still be easily found by a user; in order to provide a great user experience then you should strive to create an effective yet understandable navigation system.

Once you’re confident in answering yes to those question then you’re well on your way to providing a great quality user experience. The inspiration you can take from the world’s most successful social media sites is, balance. You need to strike the perfect balance between serving a purpose, offering a visually pleasing platform and allowing your website visitors to get to where they want on your site, quickly.

Andrew Machin
Andrew Machin

With over 15 years’ experience in web design and digital marketing Andrew has helped many brands, both in the UK and US, create exceptional digital experiences, from websites to in-store retail experiences, such as John Lewis, Jet2, Virgin Holidays and Interflora.

Through the success of such projects Andrew has received accolades that include high-profile awards that span innovation, strategy, design and results such as the Dadi Grand Prix Award and the Digital Impact Award for Innovation.

This experience has led to Andrew judging digital design awards, been featured in .net magazine, lecturing at Leeds university and speak at seminars and conferences across the UK.

Follow Andrew @The_Machin

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