Creating positive online experiences

Naomi Temple
by
on December 18th, 2017

User Experience, or UX as it’s more commonly known, is an integral part to creating an effective website for your business. It refers to a person’s emotions and attitudes when using a product.

UX design is the process of designing an online experience that’s easy, intuitive and useful to the visitor. Essentially it’s an approach to design that takes the user into account. It ensures that the layout and how the content flows across the website is in line with how people like to search and take in information. UX designers aim to understand how users interact online and so they focus on things like usability, efficiency, and overall value to the user.

There are some key principles involved in adhering to best in class UX:

Keep it simple

Your website should be clean and uncluttered. Too many options, colours or action buttons can be overwhelming for the user and may in fact act as a deterrent in progressing to the purchasing stage. Make the navigation very straightforward and clear, and ensure that key information is at the forefront of your layout and design.

Apple is famous for its simple, minimalist design, which prioritises smooth and easy navigation over flashy functionality.

People like the personal touch

Personalisation is where the website experience is tailored to each individual user or group of users based on their previous interactions with the site. For the user, it can mean they only see products that are relevant to them, or if they have registered on the website, they don’t have to re-enter certain information like a delivery address or contact details. It may simply mean that they are welcomed by name and not served any pop-ups.

When it’s done well, personalisation can deliver a more productive and enjoyable experience for the user. Amazon is a great example of this – they continually suggest books or items that may be of interest to their users based on previous purchases. Users feel valued and understood, making them more likely to return to the site.

Registration / Pop-ups

Yes, it’s great to build a customer database of email addresses but be careful when gathering this information. The registration process should not be forced onto the user nor should it interrupt their experience to the point of exasperation. Consider the best times to seek this type of information, for example after a certain minimum time on site or after the sale has concluded.

Product display

In order to show professionalism and the quality of what you are offering, ensure that the product display area is well-designed. It should contain all the important details such as price, availability (in/out stock), sizing, type or colour options (if relevant) and the delivery costs / times.  In addition to these basics, the quality of the photographs used needs to be professional. Many retailers are now using video to really give a sense of the product, especially with regard to fashion or experiences (such as hotels, venues or activity centres).

It’s also a good idea to show ‘most popular items’ or ‘matching items’ where relevant to prompt the user.  Likewise, in keeping with the Amazon approach, it works well to encourage by stating ‘people also bought….’  The key thing here is to make it an enjoyable experience, where the user is in control.

Call to Action (CTA) buttons

CTA buttons are key prompts in taking the user from browsing to buying.  They should stand out and gently guide the user towards a sale.  Consider the following when designing effective CTA buttons:  size, shape, and placement on the page.  Bold colours like red or orange work well, legibility and clarity is important in the language used, for example ‘Buy Now’, ‘Contact Us’, ‘Get your 10% discount’, ‘Learn More’. They should be prominent on the page and placed above the fold in the main area of the site.

Purchasing process

If you have an e-commerce site, it goes without saying that your main goal is to increase conversions (sales).  Make it as straightforward as possible for customers to buy from you. Using the tips outlined above –a clean design, strong CTA buttons and visually appealing product display –will certainly help to move customers towards a sale. Ensure that your site is secure, and you have all the necessary software in place. People need to feel reassured that it’s a secure website.

PayPal is an option that people are familiar with as a buying method. It cuts out the need for credit card details to be entered. Regardless of the payment options you offer, the process should be quick and seamless, while including an email confirmation or downloadable receipt to confirm the sale and delivery information.

Customer service

Give your users an excellent online experience by making it easy for them to contact you with any questions or concerns. Is your contact information obvious on your website?  In our recent Digital Health Index, 83% of Irish consumers said that it is frustrating or extremely frustrating if a company does not have contact details on their website.

People can be reluctant to use the ‘info@’ email address as they might be concerned that this will not yield an immediate answer. Whatever channels you choose to offer, make sure to include your response times to let people know when they can expect to hear back from you so as to manage their expectations. Social and live chat are also another options to consider.

In summary, good UX is central to your bottom line. Users will be put off, and will leave your site if they are frustrated or cannot easily access the information they are looking for. A positive online experience will lead to more return users, more conversions (sales) and ultimately a happier customer base.

Check out some of our other related blogs, What is the value of a website? and The value of user persona for your online business.

 

 

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