Tell me about user experience...

The internet, an amazing place designed to thrill and inspire. At the touch of a button you can find almost anything. But with a shed load of stuff available - how do you stand out from the Glastonbury sized crowd? By giving users the best online experience possible. Putting them first when designing your website, and the end to end journey they will receive. Essentially, this is user experience.

In the next few blog posts, we will bring our user to life and call her ‘Harriet’. Harriet is anyone who might use your website. A regular customer, potential customer, competitor, employee and so on. First impressions count. You’re facing a time poor Harriet, with a short attention span. The first few seconds really are crucial. Your website’s chance to sink or shine. Many websites sink in these valuable first seconds. Think of your website as a shop front, your window of opportunity. Do you want Harriet to walk past without so much as a glance?

Tap into Harriet's feelings

User experience is about getting into Harriet’s size 5s and really understanding what makes her tick. It’s all about how your website makes her feel. Your chance to annoy or amaze, delight or dull, confuse or capture. And you really don’t want to annoy Harriet, believe me.

Top 5 reasons your website sucks

Yes, we’re a digital agency, by default we’re overly critical of all websites. A quick survey of the team threw out 5 clear reasons we think websites suck.

1. Slow page loading We’ve all been there. You click on a link and you’re waiting for what seems an eternity (10 seconds). In fact it’s been so long you’re now thinking of all the things you could have done and bang, in a flash you’re gone, never to be seen again. There are lots of reasons for our number one offender. Images not optimised for the web is one common culprit. This handy tool from google lets you quickly check your page speed, give it a go. The tool gives an honest review of your sites, and tells you what, if anything, is letting you down.

2.  Forced registration Websites that offer zero content before you part with your precious personal data, annoy many. It’s clever to hide some information in exchange for personal data, but to encourage trust, you should be parting with something up front.

3. Pop ups Websites are viewed on many different devices today. Tablets, phones, desktops... A pop up ad or survey link often stands in the way of a great website. If you’ve ever tried to get past the pop up, the ensuing cat and mouse chase across the screen will annoy even the most patient among us. Testing your website and pop ups on all platforms is a must. Ignore at your peril people.

4. Confused navigation If Harriet needs a map to get around your website then forget it. Things must be simple, clearly thought out, easy to find. If you’re looking around for the ‘add to basket’ button for longer than a few seconds chances are you won’t be adding it. Websites need to be intuitive, follow a logical order. And of course what one person thinks is good navigation could be different to someone else...this one is open to all sorts of interpretation. Test your website with your people, with your potential customers, let them tell you whether the navigation is easy.

And lastly in our top 5 reasons your website might suck...

5. Too many ads Many websites are designed to offer great content, and sell ad space alongside this. National newspapers, Buzzfeed etc. all exist by selling ad space. And this is ok as we get free content in return. But too many is just too much, they slow the page down and basically get in the way. Ads are fine, but think about placement, loading time, rotation number, quantity and design. And it goes without saying, ensure they are relevant to Harriet. No one wants a chocolate bar advert on a diet website.

We could argue the top 5 all day, there are a hoard of reasons to make Harriet kiss goodbye to a website before she’s got past the home page. But go check these 5 on your own website and see how it’s performing.

The world of online shopping

And so we come to the world of ecommerce. Online shopping has exploded into our lives and made modern life an easier place. Many websites don’t actually convert customers into money, they can exist for awareness, data collecting, and so on, but the online shop serves one main purpose, to make money. And to do this it really has its work cut out. Often more grumbles than greats come out of online shopping experiences.

Harriet is looking for a great end to end experience, a few stand out things that help with this:

  • Guest check out
  • Easy add to basket
  • Hassle free search
  • Easy payment and shipping options
  • Follow up emails

The follow up email adds to the end to end user experience, ensuring Harriet knows the company have received her hard earned money, and where her parcel is in its journey to her front door. And there are a raft of techniques to try and upsell/convert, but getting the basics right is a must, or there’ll be no one left to upsell to anyway.

Hello, can we help you?

There you have it, user experience in a nutshell, and the Giant Peach Top 5 ways to lose an online audience. A bad experience will always be shared with more people than a good experience. Strive to give your audience the greatest experience you can. Good user experience begins at getting under the skin of a bad experience. Get the basics right and people will come.

Inspired to make your patch on the internet an amazing place? Come and have a chat with us and see what we can do.

Next time...we explore some of the tools and techniques behind user experience.