Designing an effective website with a satisfying user experience requires a deep understanding of what the user wants and what they value and then using that information to inform site design. The rule of thumb is that you have about eight seconds in which to convince your prospect they came to the right place. If you get it right, you’ve just earned another 30 seconds, and you’d better make those seconds count, too, if you want them to follow through all the way to the sale.
Because every product, service, and customer is different, there is no template for the perfect user experience, but there are guiding principles.
Efficiency. The eight seconds you have to capture your prospect and keep them on your website is based on the purported length of the average attention span. You may not believe our attention spans are shorter than a goldfish, but we can all agree that collectively we have developed a fast food approach to finding information. We want it our way and we want it fast. When a prospect arrives on your website:
- Quickly and efficiently communicate what you offer.
- Prominently display your phone number or method of contact.
- Give them what they’re looking for in the fewest number of clicks possible.
Usefulness. The easiest way to position your business as a go-to is to become a resource for useful information on topics related to your products or services. Not every visit will result in an immediate phone call, form fill, or sale. Sometimes it’s about the long game, and the long game is built on useful content that keeps prospects coming back. Useful content also builds trust in your brand and establishes your credibility before you even close the sale. This useful content may include:
- Tips, tricks, and insights related to your product or service
- Industry trends
- Instructional videos
Logic. We all know how frustrating it is when a website isn’t intuitive, and a website that is difficult to use or dense with content is the surest way to lose a potential customer. Predicting and mapping the way a visitor will use and move through your website requires consideration of multiple factors that can be verified or disproved through user research and testing. These factors include:
- Demographics and psychographics
- User platforms: mobile, desktop, tablet
- Preferred method of contact: phone, email, form fill, text, chat
- Level of technological skill
Strategy. Discussion of the user experience seems like it’s all about what the user wants because it is, but it’s not without strategy. Business goals are the invisible threads that tie all aspects of the customer experience together and lead customers to an outcome that is satisfying for all involved. When incorporating strategy into the user experience, be sure to consider how you will:
- Capture visitors who aren’t ready to make a decision
- Attract and drive visitors toward your most profitable products and services
- Build loyalty over the long haul
Many companies mistakenly approach website design by focusing on what they want customers to know and do without consideration for what customers need or how they go about finding it. Being thoughtful about the customer experience and investing in research and user testing are the best ways to design a website that not only delivers the sales and leads you want but also creates satisfied customers who will return again and again.