It used to be said that content was king, but in an age when every sector is hugely overpopulated, standing out becomes less about the words on the page, and more about the experience that customers get.
Cue UX stage right, or ‘User Experience Design’ if we’re being formal.
This is a pretty key way to help a business look, well, the business in the online world. Considering the different aspects of a user’s interaction in silos will only create something disjointed. Instead, those who are responsible for business performance must step back and see the experience as one long series of moments joined together, taking a user by the hand and leading them gladly from curiosity to conversion.
Implementing an engaging experience has significant benefits for businesses. From making the website visible to more potential customers to creating long-lasting relationships with existing ones, UX is something that business managers cannot afford to overlook.
Let’s explore why…
Attracting more customers
It’s true: well-thought-out UX will have an impact on your SEO.
If a website is built with digestible content in mind, search engines can crawl the content easier, making the page easier to index.
An intuitive design that directs users to the most appropriate page, product, information, or call-to-action will increase click-through rate.
A dynamic marriage of design and content will keep a customer’s interest, increasing how much time they spend on the page.
All these and more are ways in which UX will improve a website’s SEO, which ultimately places that site in front of more users.
Appearing higher in search engine rankings does still matter (so long as you have the goods to satisfy customers once they have arrived). Therefore, creating an online experience that sends good signals back to Google et al is a savvy business move.
For essentially every business, increasing conversions is a permanent business goal, right? Well, clever UX can get you just that: increased conversions.
Specifically, the research phase of a UX project will reveal key insights regarding where websites are currently losing customers on their buyer journey. Once this has been determined, the designer and/or developer can fix whichever bit of the website isn’t quite doing the job.
If the ‘add to basket’ button isn’t in a clear or obvious place in relation to the product, then this might hinder customers’ ability to make the purchase. If the button is obviously placed on desktop, does it stay easy to reach when the website scales down for mobile? These points become apparent during the user research phase of a UX project, and are crucial pieces of information for building a website that enhances a customer’s experience.
UX isn’t about pushing that CTA button to the top of every page, making it as bold and noticeable as possible, and giving it a flashing neon light to boot. It’s about consider where and when the customer is likely to want to click it, and presenting it to them before they knew they were missing it. This is the key to increasing conversions, and is something that becomes clear in a uniquely UX-based approach.
Building customer loyalty
Building up a loyal and lifelong customer base is something almost every company will say it aspires to. And when a customer feels that a website understands their buyer needs better than they do, they will connect with the brand and feel encouraged to return.
This is yet another reason why UX is important. Any website that makes purchasing an item feel like playing the piano in a marching band will push customers straight towards the competition. Therefore, in contrast, ease and pleasure of use will entice customers to return to the site for future purchases – they may have needed to make this purchase, but they may make the next one simply because they want to.
Those customers who love a website so much they make multiple return visits? Consider them the physical equivalent of a search engine. If they found it easy to digest, spent a lot of time on the page, and didn’t bounce straight back, then chances are they will recommend it to the next person who asks them if they know anywhere that sells [insert keyword here].
If a website is so good that people remember it for its ease of use, attractiveness, reassurance of progress, and other classic UX selling points, then it has achieved the key aim of standing out from the crowd. Being memorable is so important in this day and age, and when customers remember a site, they are more likely to recommend it to a friend.
Building brand through experience
Before the world wide web transformed the way we all conduct our everyday lives, great face-to-face customer service was one of the ways businesses could set themselves apart.
Entering a store and being greeted by a friendly face has always been key to enjoying a good customer experience. However, nowadays, the store never closes. The internet doesn’t sleep, so a website has to be able to handle the day and night shift and greet all customers with a smile.
This is where UX can come in. Designing and developing a website with a strong UX influence will allow businesses to replicate that ‘good morning, how may I help you today?’ effect in a digital environment, whether that’s a really sleek and well-informed drop-down menu that satisfies the most important customer needs, or an online chat pop up that literally asks the question.
When the doors have closed and the staff have gone home for the night, the company website becomes the shop floor assistant, maître d’, manager, the pot-washer, and all things inbetween. Giving it personality and a brain will build a strong bond between online customers and the brand, hopefully leading to that all-important purchase.
Becoming a more helpful brand
Taking calls, answering emails, checking the feedback form… all these things cost a company money and energy. With that in mind, businesses can use UX as a way to encourage self-service in their customer base – all the benefits of independent customer behaviour with none of the ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ frustration.
Having to spend timing calling or emailing or filling in a bunch of questions to explain an issue will only increase a customer’s dissatisfaction with the service. Making the website really intuitive and useful can prevent this, and encourage customers to feel totally in control of their purchase journey.
This leaves a bigger pot of resources (both in terms of finance and manpower) for businesses to focus their attention elsewhere. Whether they want to put more time into the blog or commission better artwork to display products, that’s all energy that could otherwise have been spent communicating with frustrated customers.
Nip it in the bud: create a self-service environment that gives customers all the information and ability at their fingertips.
Where can we go from here?
The trick with UX is to be constantly asking questions. At every stage, designers and developers must ask questions to get a clear picture of what kind of experience customers find on their website.
We as humans love to attribute emotion to experiences, so rather than just ‘easy’, ‘clear’, or ‘simple’, chances are users would call a good purchase experience ‘great’, ‘reassuring’, or say that it inspires confidence in the brand. Conversely, a bad user experience could well be described as ‘suspicious’, ‘shady’, ‘awkward’, or ‘frustrating’, and this is key information for businesses to act upon which can only be discovered by asking users the right questions.
Listening to user research and customer feedback will allow companies to really understand how well they are marrying their user intent with the heart and soul of a website. Once this union is perfected, these six key benefits of UX will start to reveal themselves.