Image containing text: User Experience- The A to Z, with illustrative characters all working on a computer

User Experience- The A to Z

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User Experience is increasingly cropping up in marketing plans, strategies and debates. Marketers are coming to realise that providing users with a positive online experience will equate to more conversions and a positive return on investment for brands both on and offline.

The biggest misconception with user experience is that it is simply just creating a design that is aesthetically pleasing to the human eye. Whilst user experience is somewhat driven by design it is part of a much larger discipline; what’s most important is the relationship between the user and the technology. It is imperative for brands to understand their users and add value by solving their need with a well-designed experience. Our A to Z guide helps to clarify all of the aspects of a good online user experience.

Accessibility – Access to digital resources is a fundamental human right and you should support the creation of an accessible digital experience. BBC’s ‘My web my way’ pages provide you with various ways to make your website accessible for every user, overcoming the creative challenge.

Buzzword – It’s more than just another trendy marketing term. A poor user experience on your site can be detrimental. After all it may be the first time many people come across your business, and first impressions count.

Call-to-actions – Each page should have a purpose, whether it is to get users to contact you, purchase a product or establish your business as thought leader in the industry. Whatever the purpose, make sure there are clear calls-to-action to make it easy for the user to do what you want them to do.

Design as a whole – It is important to design every individual part to meet the users’ needs, but the entire site still needs to flow. If you only focus on one part of the experience or on the homepage, there will be a disconnect and a noticeable drop off in users as they delve further into your site.

Error page – It is inevitable that at some point a user will come across a broken link on your site, so make sure you have a custom 404 page in place explaining the error and providing links to relevant information.

Fresh – Keeping your site fresh with new relevant content isn’t only great for your audience, but Google will reward you for it. Make users want to revisit your site, knowing that they will find something new, and share that new content via social media channels to draw users in.

Google – Improving the user experience of your site not only makes your site more enjoyable for those visiting, but will undoubtedly drive more users to your site. Search engines are getting clever and they want users to encounter a good user experience. Improving your site will subsequently improve your ranking.

Happy customers – People remember having an easy, pleasant experience on a website, the more positive their experience, the more likely they are to revisit.

Information Architecture – The information backbone of your site, ensuring the underlying structure of the site is well organised and has the desired functionality.

Jargon – Too many sites are written by internal staff with an inward view. If you want to make the most of your site, make sure your messaging is easy-to-digest and beneficial for the user. In the end what does your product do for me that others don’t?

Keep it simple – Help your users complete their tasks in the easiest and quickest way possible. This means if you want content to be read, make it easy with bullet points, short paragraphs and sub-headings. If you want products to be purchased, make it possible in as few clicks as possible.

Landing pages – If you’ve got ads pointing to your site, make sure they land on a page with consistent messaging. Don’t just send a user to your general homepage. It’s confusing and will cost you sales.

Mobile compatible – It is ever-increasingly important to have a site with a responsive design, with internet usage on mobile devices taking over desktops, so be sure to check your website functions across all devices.

Navigation – Your site should have a professional looking navigation menu which is simple to use, and makes it easy for your visitors to get to where they want to go on your site, in as few clicks as possible.  Good navigation should feel like there is an invisible hand guiding your user along their journey.

Objectives – The key to designing an effective user experience is to know exactly what your business wants to achieve and who you’re targeting. If you’re not clear, your site won’t be clear and therefore your users won’t be sure whether they’ve landed on the site for them.

Presumptions – Presuming you know what your audience wants is both risky and expensive. Take the time to research and make the right decisions for your users, making your website investment worthwhile.

Questionnaires – Want a cheap and easy way to gain feedback on your site? Why not send a questionnaire to regular customers, the offer of a tangible incentive will increase your response rate.

ROI – Good user experience has been linked to lower costs for customer acquisition and increased customer retention. Having a site that gives the customer what they need when they need it will increase the return-on-investment for your business.

Story-telling – Brands are telling stories, humanising their business, through social media, blogs, videos etc. Providing valuable content, rather than sales and promotions will allow you to truly connect with your customers.

Test and adapt – A/B split testing is a great way to compare two versions of a web page to see which performs better. You can then use the data and statistics to make any improvements and changes to your website. The needs of your target market will inevitably change and develop and your site needs to too. Add it your marketing plan to review, test and update on six monthly or annual basis.

Usability testing – Allowing real users to test your site is the key to understanding what your customers will experience. The goal is to determine the user’s satisfaction with your website and identify any changes required to improve user performance and experience.

Vibrant imagery – Yes content is king, but don’t forget imagery. Big and bold photography and minimalist illustration is ever popular and helps break up copy and draw the user in.

WWW – Use the Worldwide web to find not just usability testing, but free tutorials, help guides, and as source of inspiration for how you can take your website to the next level.

(e) Xpectations – Technology is developing at a phenomenal rate, along with the expectations of your customers. It is important to constantly review your site and make any changes where necessary.

Your audience – There are many sites that you could reference in terms of site layout and experience, but be sure to adapt that design to meet your users’ individual needs. It is best practice to define your target audience and create personas before trying to make any changes to your website.

Zero seconds – Okay, so no website takes zero seconds to load but the less time it takes, the better. Be sure to check the loading speed of your pages and reduce images and videos to make browsing quick and easy for your visitors.

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