Do you really know the business impact of a visitor's user experience on your site? Marketers and UX experts will wade through oceans of analysis and research, but sometimes the most effective means to improve user experience is to take a more simple approach. Refine your site's user experience by asking these 5 simple questions.
1. Are you accounting for thousands of mobile device combinations?
With so many mobile devices and on-the-go shoppers in today's world it's necessary to optimize for vast variations of user devices. As digital marketer Juan Bell Jr. writes in an article on mobile optimization,
"Mobile is increasingly becoming the preferred method for online browsing, and if you are going to survive in this increasingly mobile world, you need to give users a great mobile experience." (Tweet This!)
But what does "a great mobile experience" entail?
Sadly, many organizations sell their effort short by implementing an RWD site or an m.dot mobile site and considering the job done. This comes from the myopic mentality of "it works on my phone" -- testing a site's user experience based on purely anecdotal evidence. The problem is when that phone is a current generation iPhone on an office WiFi connection or the strong 4G LTE connection of a major city, it's not representative of the vast array of devices, operating system versions, browsers, and cell data connections that exist in the world. A user experience should be fast and error free for all users, not just the ones with the optimal set of browsing criteria.
2. What is the user's actual goal?
"As a designer it is your responsibility to make sure you NEVER lose track of the user" (Tweet This!)
It is an often-overlooked best practice to find out how people actually navigate your site for insights into their personal user experience. Much as marketers would like to think they do, not every user will follow a direct, immediate path to a product page and checkout. They often visit competitors, read reviews, look at a company's "about" page, and otherwise meander before making a purchase.
Seek to understand user goals and motivations. What path have they taken on your application? What are they trying to learn? How can you better serve their questions and needs? Even seemingly minor changes in the design or performance of a web application can impact the way users flow through your pages and interpret information.
3. Is my overall site structure as simple as it could be?
Simplicity is bliss. If a user sees that your webpage is easy to navigate and is appealing to the eye, they will spend more time on that page. According to freelance interface designer Anastasios Karafillis,
"While content is supposed to be unique, surprising and exciting, navigating to it is supposed to be as simple and predictable as possible." (Tweet This!)
If the site structure is too large and overly complicated, it can be a turn off. At the same time, as a marketer or designer, you can't just remove products on offer or deliberately obscure navigation options in the name of simplicity. The answer to finding the balance is well-tested and thoroughly considered design. A stat shared by IronPaper tells us, "48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business". Think about who is driving your design -- is it your users, or is it someone's gut feeling?
4. Are your form fields scaring away customers?
Everyone wants as much customer data as they can gather, but the quest for information can turn off potential customers. Forms and fields must be simple and aligned to the offer you provide, and contextually relevant. For example, according to Juan Bell Jr.:
"Keeping form fields on your mobile site simple and minimal appeals to your users and is a quick fix that is sure to increase conversion rates." (Tweet This!)
In a popular article, landing page conversion experts Unbounce provide some interesting stats around why long forms can hurt your conversion rates. Author Oli Gardner notes, "An example presented in the infographic highlights one company that increased conversions by 120% by reducing their form from 11 fields down to 4". Stats like these speak for themselves: if you can have a major impact on sales by giving up some ground on data collection, that's an important conversation to have.
5. What makes my web application unique? Why do users prefer my app over alternatives? (Tweet This!)
Stop to ask yourself, "how does my application stand out?" Are there already other websites, apps or offline resources that have the same offerings as you do? According to Experience Solutions,
"An in-depth understanding of what the site needs to do to migrate users from what they use at the moment to your site is the key to the success of a project." (Tweet This!)
Your initial research must set out to learn which sources are popular and which are not. With a full comprehension of user preferences, you can work to develop your company's unique competitive advantage.
Always ask yourself the tough questions about how users feel about your application. This soul searching can help you to improve user experiences, in ways that some data analysis may miss. You can appeal to a wider audience if you better understand what that audience is actually looking for. So, don't be afraid, put yourself in their shoes!