What is website UX?
UX, or user experience, is how the end user experiences a product or service and how they interact with it. It’s not only about how easy things are to use, but also relates to how users perceive their experiences and whether they feel confident and positive about the organisation providing them.
From a business’ perspective, thinking about UX is about putting yourself into the customer’s shoes when they engage with your business and assessing how well the experience you provide is performing.
In the case of a website, UX could be connected to how easy your site is to navigate, whether the information there is presented clearly in plain language, how well the design supports the user to complete their tasks, or on a more basic level, whether everything works properly, makes sense, and feels secure and legitimate, especially if the website offers ecommerce or involves users entering personal details.
Why does website UX matter?
These days, many businesses understand and embrace the business value of UX improvements, and employ their own UX designers or agencies to enhance and maintain user experiences.
But UX is still a relatively new concept, and it’s often helpful to review and refresh the business case for UX, whether for your own company’s benefit or to help others get on board with the idea.
Good website UX:
Is a minimum expectation for customers
Today, online interactions are essential to almost any modern business, and your website forms the backbone of your online presence. Users expect companies of all sizes to provide a good website experience. If your site isn’t well-designed, usable on a range of devices, attractive and kept up to date, customers may question whether to do business with you.
Supports purchases and conversions online
As well as providing a good experience for users, UX best practices can help you to smooth the path towards conversion and make it as easy and intuitive as possible to complete an online purchase. It’s good for your bottom line as well as your customers.
Provides good customer experiences
CX is a buzzworthy term for a good reason – it enhances your business in all kinds of ways, not least by building loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases from your customers. Good website UX is a key part of providing a high quality customer experience.
Adds brand value
Your website is a key brand asset, and offering expertly crafted UX design is a great way to showcase it. When UX is working well, website visitors will associate your brand with technological sophistication, ease of use and customer satisfaction.
Helps you understand customers better
In order to do UX well, it’s necessary to have a deep understanding of your customers and their goals, priorities and needs. This aligns well with other business goals and tasks that involve deep user knowledge, such as market segmentation, personalisation and persona development.
How is website user experience measured?
Website UX isn’t like NPS or monthly unique visitors – there isn’t a hard numerical metric you can use to keep track of it. But you can still assess the quality of your website user experience using a mix of indirect measurements, such as conversion rates and page loading speeds, and qualitative user feedback.
User feedback is essential throughout the UX process. As you plan and execute your UX strategy, take feedback from your users throughout, via user testing and spontaneous channels like social media and user reviews.
It’s also a good idea to implement a website survey that users can complete. As well as collecting feedback on the look, feel and design of your site, this will help you understand who your users are, what their goals are when they visit, and how well your website supports those goals.
How to improve your website UX – 7 tips
For many companies, the gold standard method for UX improvement is to hire a UX designer or consultant, or a whole team of them. They can work with you to develop a tailored approach for your website. A UX professional will be able to make an assessment of your website’s current UX strengths and weaknesses and carry out user experience research to develop a deeper understanding of your customers.
However, if you’re looking for some UX improvement quick wins, here are a few places to start.
It’s really important to have a website that loads quickly and allows the user to move effortlessly between pages without any lag or waiting time. Slow websites could mean that users navigate away from your site and go elsewhere.
2. Responsive layouts
Your website should perform equally well on desktops, tablets and mobile devices. It should also be compatible with all major browsers. Web users switch between devices multiple times during a typical customer journey, so your website needs to meet them, and perform at its best, wherever they are.
Website navigation is an essential part of good UX design. Whether it’s a compact burger menu on a mobile site or a more traditional menu bar in the header of a desktop website, your navigation should reflect the most common user tasks and use labels and language that reflect the user’s own vocabulary, so it’s easy for them to understand which option to select in order to do what they need to do. It’s a good idea to spend plenty of time on your navigation and try out different options with real users to find out what works best.
4. Landing pages
Make sure your landing pages – the URLs where visitors are likely to arrive, either from search, social or links from your marketing emails – make a great first impression on your users. They should be designed around user needs and provide an easy onward journey into the relevant parts of your site.
Microcopy, the functional text that makes up elements like buttons, calls to action, form labels and tooltips, plays an important supporting role in helping visitors to use your site. It can inform, reassure, explain and signpost users towards where they’re going. Adding a simple line of explanatory text, for example an explanation of how information will be used next to a form field for a user’s phone number, could make the difference between a successful purchase and an abandoned cart.
6. White space
Like homes, websites are at their best when they’re clean and free of clutter. White space doesn’t have to be literally white – it can be whatever colour works for your visual look and feel. What matters is that you allow enough empty space between page elements so that the user doesn’t end up with information overload and become confused.
Hyperlinks are one of two main ways users travel between pages on your website. (The other one is your navigation bar or menu.) Link text needs to be visually differentiated, using a different colour or underlined formatting, so that they’re eye-catching for users scan-reading the page. It should also be unique and provide some information about where the link leads – not just “click here” or “read more”.