You’ve taken that big step and invested money in a new website that you think looks super cool, but even weeks after launch you don’t really see an increase in sales or enquirers even though traffic might have increased. Maybe if you track your stats regularly you might have noticed that your bounce rates have shot up. Hmmmm, but my shiny shiny new site should be getting me more customers surely?
So what could be wrong here? Well I would hazard a guess that the answer is very simple, User Experience. Now this isn’t just about new sites it covers pretty much any site, product or service new or old. User Experience has been generating a buzz in recent years but for me its not really that new, who remembers the old adage “The customer is always right”.
What is User Experience(UX)?
First of all its not usability, though they are related UX covers a much more. Be it graphic design, accessibility, ergonomics, interaction, calls to action, layout, ease of use, ease of understanding or just plain the way users want to do things UX has a massive influence on the way your customers interaction with your digital product or service. In fact it boils down to the way a person feels while interacting with your site for instance, its the emotions of frustration or joy a user might feel while using your site. Its these emotions that count a lot more to a successful site then it purely looking good. A site that is a easy and a joy to use will be a lot more successful.
How do I audit my site’s User Experience?
Nowadays site owners understand the value of time spent doing Search Engine Optimisation audits and I think many would also benefit from taking the time to audit their User Experience. Time spent understanding your site from the point of view of the user is going to pay you back well. Here are some of the main points you should be considering on your site:
Before you start its important to understand one truth about about User Experience, ‘You are not your User’. Thats to say that you need to look beyond your personal tastes, you might love parts of your site that users in fact hate. In fact the best way to audit your site is to get someone who has not used it before to use it while you just observe.
Like an SEO audit take some time to ask yourself these questions while using your site:
1. Efficiency – How quick is it for a user to perform a task on the site? How quickly can you find relevant information.
2. Ease – How easy is it for first time users to complete tasks on the site? How easy is it to buy or book a product or service.
3. Effective – Can users achieve what they want from your site (or even what you want them to achieve)? If the user is searching your site for a certain product, do they find it easily, does it provide the right information about the product and is it simple for them to add product to basket, check out and pay for said product? You’d be amazed how many potential customers drop off your site due to issues here.
4. Errors – How does your site prevent user error or help users recover from errors? Forms with validation are often a massive pain point for users. Are your instructions and error messages clear and simple to understand for instance. Pay particular attention to areas that have critical actions (does the user really want to delete their whole account at this point?) and allow users to recover from mistakes.
5. Repeat-ability – How easy is it for a user to repeat an action on a later visit? A user might struggle through a process once, but then be deterred from doing it again. Critical if you are an online store, maybe if you have lots of 1st timer customers but low repeaters then maybe there is a part of the process that is putting them off.
I hope this gives you a quick introduction into the world of User Experience and that by completing an audit of your site you gain an understanding of not just the user but also how you as a business can gain from putting UX to the front of your mind. UX is a wide ranging subject matter and I would definitely suggest getting expert help.
I’ll be taking more a in-depth look at UX in future articles and if you are looking for some expert advice for your business then IBM Interactive Experience has the answers you need.