Delivering user-centric websites and customer portals founded on User Experience research and design. Our client portfolio includes The Balvenie, Hendricks Gin, Barclays, Licence Bureau, SDL and Anthony Nolan.
The 10 ‘C’-crets of good website UX design
6 August 2019 10:06am
As a Marketing Manager it is likely you’ll spend months overseeing the creation of a new website, from design changes and content writing to managing the developers or digital agency who are building your site. A new website is usually a massive project to manage, and one that comes with much responsibility. You don’t want to be the person who launches the site that either everyone hates or performs worse than the last site!
With so much going on, it can be very easy to miss the small, but very important details that can have a massive impact on the overall UX. You can become so familiar with a project, it is incredibly easy to overlook things that can badly affect your users’ experience of your site. You know what the content and links mean and why things are displayed the way they are, but that is because you live and breathe your brand, its products and how you think.
But what does that mean for your customers? What do they expect? Do they intuitively know and understand the terminology you have used? Will they know where in the site you have located particular items?
All too often, it is only when a site is launched you finally have the time to sit back and reflect on the end product. Combine this reflection with real-life feedback, statistics and web analytics, and the weaknesses will begin to show.
At DotLabel, we do loads of UX reviews for sites, some because it’s part of a paid project, other times it is just because we can’t help ourselves. When we critique a website we look at it through fresh eyes and when we approach a new website project, we look through the lens of your target audience.
The most effective way to improve a website’s conversion rate is by understanding the user types, their goals and wants, their expectations, frustrations and pre-dispositions. And whilst it’s difficult to diagnose the issues hindering a specific website’s engagement and conversion rates without such insight, there are a few general areas to consider that commonly affect sites.
These are the ten ‘C’s below:
Clarity (through setting expectations)
Setting visitors expectations is an important way to provide clarity on a website. Avoiding ambiguity so that a visitor knows exactly what to expect ensures that user errors are avoided, and therefore potential frustration is minimised.
When the user takes an action on the site, do they get the response they expect, for example if a user clicks on a link to ‘Find out more’ will it detail more information or will it take them off to another website without warning?
If there is a ‘Contact us’ link, will it take the user to a contact form, a page with contact details or attempt to open the users email programme to try and send an email? What do your users want and expect?
Another important way to help visitors is to mitigate errors. By providing buffers you can mitigate errors, for example, adding in a message such as ‘Are you sure you want to delete?’, can avoid unintentional actions by the user.
When it comes to understanding your website visitors, if you don’t know what they want or expect, then it would be useful to find out! UX research is a great way to do this!
Offering lots of whizzy functions on a website can be great when it is relevant, but can all too often just be confusing. Think about what the user wants to achieve - what would be most useful information to help them achieve their goal.
The best digital experience is one that provides the right information at the right time. Avoid overwhelming your visitors with too much information. Use considered UI design when responsive design is resized for mobile screens. Content that might look nice and spaced out on desktop can lead to boring endless scrolling pages on mobile screens.
However, don’t be concise for the sake of it. Hiding information to make a page look cleaner at the expense of clearly showing information is a mistake. It isn’t good practice to hide the navigation in a burger menu on a desktop site, yes, it might look tidier, but it is an extra effort that needs to be taken by the user to simply find the information they want.
As your digital shop window your website needs to persuade your audience, whether that’s to buy more, read more, engage more or share more. How and where you place your calls to action will determine whether or not they are engaged with. You need to take your visitors on a journey and give them a reason to take action. First highlight the area of interest to gain awareness, give them the right information to entice them to find out more, then provide a mechanism for them to find out more i.e. the Call to action. If you place a call to action before the convincer, they won’t have a reason to click or call!
Considered UI design
Web design is a specialist skill unlike print design. Understanding the intricacies that come with an interactive canvas means there is much to consider. Highlighting interactive elements and providing visual feedback to users’ actions are an important part of digital design. If a user clicks on something they believe to be interactive, they will expect to see a resulting action - it might be a new page load, a lightbox opening or a form submitted. Is it obvious what is clickable on your site? Do any elements appear to be interactive when actually they aren’t? This can be very frustrating for users. Click maps are a great way to uncover this insight.
When it comes to form filling on mobile devices, does your site default to use the numeric keyboard for phone numbers and credit card numbers? When capturing email addresses do you expect your users to type it in twice, or do you ask for it once then display it on screen and ask for confirmation to avoid additional typing?
When using images and videos, many sites have pages with text overlaid. Whilst at launch it might all look fine, over time different people upload content and images, particularly for blogs and there becomes a risk that text becomes illegible.
Does your design scale properly for different screen sizes, not just technically, but from a nice design and user experience perspective too? Also, does your site satisfy the relevant accessibility requirements?
As your online shop window, your website is one of the most important assets your business owns. But does your web design accurately reflect your brand image? Is your content and tone of voice inline with what your consumers expect. Do you inspire your audience to want to stick around on your site and explore?
A website’s look and feel that appears amateur in design or poorly conceived will directly affect how your brand is viewed in the eyes of your target market, and reflect in the way your business as a whole is considered.
A website that delivers a consistent tone of voice, use of terminology, imagery and colours, not only helps to deliver a professional image, it also helps users to become familiar with the site and how it works.
When all calls to action, menus and other interactions work consistently across the site it makes it easier to use, removing the ‘cognitive load’ or ‘thinking’ needed by the website visitor to use the site. This means users are more likely to explore the site intuitively reducing the risk of them getting lost or confused.
Ensure the content is easy to navigate, whether you use menus, mega menus, basic or advanced search functions - website visitors don’t want to spend ages looking for what they want.
Provide a breadcrumb menu and/or sticky navigation, so users can always find their way back no matter where they are.
As well as ensuring the content that users want is easy to find, does your site offer visitors the opportunity to discover new content? Cross promoting content or products can lead to a more engaged experience for your visitors (which can also be more profitable for you).
Form filling is one of those necessary goals that appear on many websites. On some sites it’s a simple contact form, on others it may be more complex registration, application or quote forms. To increase completion rates you need to ensure there is good communication throughout the form. Let the user know how long the form is and how close they are to completion.
Often chunking down information within a complex form can aid completion rates and accuracy.
Also, remember to communicate validation errors at the point of entry, don’t wait until the end of the form to tell them their postcode isn’t in the right format.
Avoiding spam on form completions is a priority for every site, but why should the user have to work hard to prove they are a real human. Google’s invisible Captcha will become an increasing expected feature of all online forms, where the site works out who is human, taking the onus off the visitor to click all the boxes with traffic lights!
You should always plan for there to be no dead-end journeys, however dead links do sometimes occur and not all online journeys will go smoothly. When the visitor is faced with an Error 404 page, don’t blame the user or the site for it. Use some positive wording and provide relevant content links to avoid the user just moving to another website.
It is a tough job producing a really great website and it’s a job that never really ends. Your customers expectations are constantly evolving as they are continually go online. Your competitors are always looking and ways to increase their share of the market, so you need to ensure that you continuously improve your digital experience to at least keep up as minimum.
Whether you are about to launch a new site, have recently launched or are running a website that has been live for a while, it is never too late to invest in a detailed audit to see what changes you need to make to your website to improve its performance. The 9 points above a good generic starting point, but with a site-specific audit you can identify exactly the weak points in your online user journeys and how to improve them and grow your conversions.
DotLabel are an award winning UX Digital Agency that works with brands of all sizes to improve their digital experience and optimise conversion. Whether it’s driving more traffic through SEO and PPC or improving the online user experience through UX research and design. Contact us to find out how we can help you!
Written by Alaina Roberts, Marketing Manager