How to ensure great website user experience on desktop and mobile platforms
For many businesses, a website is a necessary evil, a grudge purchase like tyres or insurance. Consequently, they may scrimp on paying for good design and programming. But if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, and a lousy user experience (UX). If your customers matter to you and you want to generate business from your website, then the key lies in creating great UX - here’s how.
Compare experiences and make life easy
The great thing about websites is that you don’t need to be an expert to have a valid opinion. In fact, it’s a very good starting point to think about your own website browsing experience, what frustrates you and what impresses you - you’re probably not alone and others would share similar opinions. As Machiavelli said, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” Become an expert on your competitors’ websites and have no shame in replicating the best aspects of their presentation.
There are some key elements that have a disproportionate impact on UX. The first of these is the initial appearance and first impression when people land on the site. Visitors can leave in as little as two or three seconds if they don’t like what they see. It needs to be attractive but not overbearing and indicate clearly what it is that you do.
How about navigation? Do customers need to be master code crackers or telepathic to find their way around the site? This leads us onto the subject of ‘red routes.’ These are the key tasks that visitors want to perform when they visit a site, the 80 percent of journeys over a site. Imagine a concert ticket booking site, people need to check artists, dates, availability, book tickets and pay. If you don’t make those tasks gloriously straightforward and intuitive, all the fancy animation and infographics you add will be irrelevant - in fact, they’ll probably be seen as downright distracting and irritating. Too many bells and whistles, such as music, videos and data heavy elements will also affect the page loading time - another big UX turnoff.
Your site is attractive?
Do customers need to be master code crackers or telepathic to find their way around the site?
Does the website architecture make sense? You may understand it, but will a first-time visitor to your site? If building a new site or rejigging an old one, an interesting, cheap and effective way to try it out is to map out the structure on pieces of paper and then get a group of employees or even willing victim customers to work their way around it. This gets right down to the user experience but in an experimental way that can give you some very useful insights.
OK - your site is attractive, the architecture is logical and the navigation is user-friendly but is full of bugs that you’re not aware of? The sorts of elements that impact on UX that you need to check are:
- Broken links
- Browser compatibility
- Coding errors
- Speed testing
- Load bearing capability
- Blog testing
- Order fulfilment
Now if you haven’t got a clue about where to begin on such tasks, there are plenty of free apps to help you check these elements, for example: Powermapper, W3C mark up validation, Google Webmaster Tools, Webpagetest, Silktide NibblerLoad Impact, Whichloadsfaster and Is my blog working. Another interesting app is Feng-GUI which allows you to upload your pages to generate a heat map of where viewers are most likely to look, which could inform the placement of information on the page. There are just bucket loads of free and useful apps out there to help you fine-tune the user experience. For mobile readiness there is mobiReady, which is a great tool for checking your website’s mobile compatibility, but that’s not something you should leave to chance or just hope that it happens without any extra work.
Don’t just try to shoehorn your desktop website into a mobile format
As you might expect, there are plenty of tools on the market for testing websites and apps for mobile compatibility, such as: CrossBrowserTesting, Perfecto Mobile, DeviceAnywhere and the Responsinator.
Getting mobile ready
Having a mobile version of your site is no longer an optional extra or a ‘nice to have’ bolt on. Mobile viewing is now outstripping conventional desktop use and people expect to be able to access all their favourite sites from their phone or device while on the move.
Don’t just try to shoehorn your desktop website into a mobile format, they are inherently different animals. It can be worth building a mobile site from the ground, using the totally different criteria. The user experience and interface will be quite different in this environment - less means more. Everything needs to be simplified and streamlined. That could include the main menu bar and submenus, icons and navigation processes and routes. People might want to operate their phone one-handed while travelling on a crowded train or bus so fewer clicks and ease of use are paramount. You will probably have to have reduced content and fewer images, which not only require more loading time but take up valuable space. The whole appearance should be more stripped down but in terms of the UX, it should be a more satisfying experience. The same applies if you are developing or selling an app. As you might expect, there are plenty of tools on the market for testing websites and apps for mobile compatibility, such as: CrossBrowserTesting, Perfecto Mobile, DeviceAnywhere and the Responsinator.
Putting it all together
Despite all the packages and tools available for you to check and tweak user experience, there are a couple of important things that you need to do. First and foremost, you need to understand your customers - who are they, what do they want and how do they think? Unless you clearly identify that, you may have a site that ticks all the boxes except the ones that your customers are looking for. The personality and demography of your customer will not only determine what they are seeking but how they want to see information bundled and presented. It all determines the type of language that you use when speaking directly to them - Ladies and Gentlemen or Hey Dude. Once you’ve locked in on the customer personality coordinates you can use the appropriate voice in all of your online communication.
Testimonials can provide useful reference points but can also look contrived and be boring to read, “yeah, whatever.” Better, is to tell your customers’ stories, what problem or objective they had, why they came to you and how you helped them, ideally with quantifiable outcomes, such as money saved, increase in traffic or sales. In so doing, you start to move away from me, me, and me to us - which is much more interesting from a UX perspective because customers relate to other customers, not suppliers.
Wrong: Our ABC Company does xyz, we are great at xyz, Customers of ABC say ABC is great; you should buy services of ABC.
Telling - Me + Me = ME
Right: Customer A (perhaps like you) had problem xyz and didn’t know how to fix it, Customer A looked around for someone who might help and stumbled upon ABC. ABC listened to Customer A and together worked towards a solution - they shared a journey of synergy and arrived at their destination - what’s your journey?
Storytelling - Customer + Me = US, how about You?
Great customer UX is not just about easy navigation but customer identification and enabling them to feel and be part of a tribe, like for example, Apple users.
Now in the story described, Customer A, like most people, couldn’t do it all alone. They needed some external insights, skills and knowledge that they didn’t possess. Maybe you’re in the same boat.
If you need to design or rework your website, develop an app for your customers and be sure that everything works as it should across multiple browsers and devices, we’d love to hear your story and share your journey.
Call us now on +48 692 650 564