What Makes a Great User Experience? Tough question, because it depends. It depends on the audience, it depends on the competition. It depends on what you want people to do. There are several elements that are consistent, though.
A site with a great user experience:
1. Grabs the user’s attention within 5 seconds
2. Lets the user know what the product or company does clearly and in lay person terms,
3. Guides the user to go through the path you wish for them to follow.
There is a saying in web design that good design needs no instruction or explanation. It just is.
The difficult thing is that we don’t know what design will work best for your visitors. So, the way to find out what works is testing. Try out different ideas, wacky ideas, fun ideas, boring ideas and see which one converts for your traffic better. If one design has a conversion of 1% and the other has a conversion of 10%, the 10% one is better. No matter what it looks like.
As an SEO I care about what Google thinks is a good user experience
What Does Google Say?
Over at the Google Webmaster Central Blog, it states:
The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs. We also want the “good guys” making great sites for users, not just algorithms, to see their effort rewarded.
You have to start off with a site that follows Google’s Quality Guidelines. Google has documented their Quality Guidelines.
Basic principles of a quality site:
* Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
* Don’t deceive your users.
* Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
* Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
That doesn’t go far enough. You can create a site with the guidelines above and not have a good user experience.
You need to address the site as if it were being seen by a brand new visitor, and ask yourself the following questions honestly:
* Does your site do what it is intended to do?
* Do all the links work?
* Are there images that are entertaining and pertinent to the content?
* Is it easy to navigate?
* Is it easy to transact?
* Does it work well on mobile devices?
Recently a new client – Spinal Rejuvenator- was referred to us to build a new site and help them with their internet marketing approach. They have a novel medical device to eliminate back pain. It’s crazy simple and it works. I’ve tried it myself and got rid of the pain in my middle back and shoulders in less than 4 minutes!
Their previous “web guy” had built them a site and it has sat there for years. Not one sale had been made through the site. If you take a look at their old site, it wouldn’t be hard to figure out why they didn’t make any sales. This is a screenshot of their old homepage:
The good points are that it has their phone number prominently displayed and their name is Spinal Rejuvenator. There are happy people living life on the homepage, but it doesn’t tell the visitor what the Spinal Rejuvenator is, what it does, or how it works. The bad thing is that nobody knew what the site was about and nobody could figure out how to buy.
We did our best to change that in the very first version of their new homepage. Here is a screenshot of their new homepage design:
Now, when someone lands on their site, they can watch an explainer video to learn more about what the product is, and they can easily purchase by clicking on the large orange “Buy Now” buttons on the page.
For an ecommerce site, you need to make it easy for people to find stuff and buy stuff. Easy concept, not so easy to implement.
I look forward to sharing more about the journey with the Spinal Rejuvenator with you over the coming months. It will be fun to show the process and methods we will be using to take them from a great product with zero online sales, to an online juggernaut. We’ve got a bunch of ideas to try out. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. Just not sure which ones will work. Gotta test ’em out.
Help people answer the question that they came to figure out. Make navigation easy to navigate. Don’t make a page too busy which is distracting. If you’d like to have me review your site and give you some ideas on how to make it better, fill out the contact form and provide the website address for me to review.