Optimizing website user experience is one of the primary building blocks to a healthy online marketing campaign. After all, if you don’t have a strong website, it can undermine all of your other online (and offline) marketing efforts. Here are a few aspects to look out for when it comes to creating the best user experience of your businesses’ website.
#1. Think Like The Visitor
If you are a homeowner suffering from a clogged water heater, you’re probably Googling things like “how to unclog my water heater.” It would be overwhelming to you, for example, to visit a plumber’s website’s homepage with tons of product information but little mention of clogged water heaters. Good website user experience appeals to the visitor’s problem right off the bat rather than overwhelming them with information they’re able to process.
One way to fix this problem is to have your homepage divided into user paths. Perhaps one of these paths is somebody who’s already mentally prepared to purchase a new water heater, while another path is somebody who just wants water heater service. The aforementioned user who has a clogged drain would then be able to follow the path of water heater services, leading them to a water heater flush page.
Now, in the end, they may have to buy a new water heater anyway, but you never would have received that lead if you chased them off within the first few seconds.
#2. Don’t Make The Visitor Think
Similarly, once you start speaking to the visitor’s needs, don’t make it hard on them to learn what they need to know and take the action they need to take. Include useful information about their problem and a clear explanation of the solutions available to them. Have a contact form in plain view with a compelling call to action. Once they submit the form, make sure the “thank you” page clearly explains what happens next. Go the extra mile and include a confirmation email that also includes this information.
Back to our water heater friend, he’s finally made it to the water heater service page. Immediately there’s a callout asking “Clogged Water Heater? Get Our Water Heater Flush for $59.” Under this verbiage is a quick form to fill out and a button that says “Schedule Service.” The user is done with the journey — in under a minute a form has been submitted requesting service. He immediately receives a confirmation email, informing him that Donna the receptionist will be in touch with him shortly to confirm.
#3. Be Consistent With Your Brand
A good website design also is consistent with the company’s brand. One should immediately view the site and associate it with, for example, its service vans around town. Any colors, imagery and fonts should always build on the small businesses’ existing brand. On top of this, it should look professional so that the visitor doesn’t once question their abilities as a business. If the visitor already encounters frustration on the website, this is already going to be a strike against the business before the transaction has even begun.
What’s the wrong way to do this? Let’s say a home services company has a van wrap in purple with a slogan about protecting your home. Meanwhile, on a TV commercial spot during Friday’s football game, the owner is wearing an orange polo shirt and talking about how cheap his services are. Finally, his team of website designers thought it would be cool to design his site in blue and sell the company as a luxury service. While it’s okay to play up different angles of your product across various marketing channels, the fact that there isn’t even at the very least visual brand consistency is problematic. The messaging across all platforms should also have some form of cohesion.
#4. Use Images of People
Using images of real people opposed to stock photos is a good idea for any business. However, this is especially true for small businesses, especially if the business owner is a recognized name or face around town. Customers also like to see pictures of team members, for example, the receptionist who schedules service calls or the technician who makes the house calls. The more human you can make your site, the better!
When using an employee photo, be sure to get their consent to use it in future projects. In industries like HVAC and plumbing, turnover is high and it can be a wasted investment to have photos of older employees that you can no longer use. To ensure that your photography investment pays off, be sure to have that consent form.
When possible, try to use professional photography to put your best foot forward. Keep in mind that these photos can also be used for social profiles such as Google+ and Yelp, making this more than worth your investment. Is photography simply not in your budget? Do not fret – today’s smartphones typically have cameras that can take excellent pictures. Just be sure you are using a high-resolution image that was taken in ample lighting.
#5. Use Responsive Design
With mobile rapidly overtaking desktop computer use, it’s more important than ever that a website looks good on mobile devices as well as computers. A good small business website design looks just as good on an iPhone as it does an iMac. This means that if you are accessing the website from your cell phone, it should load quickly, be easy to read and have big, beautiful buttons that you can push with ease. Alternatively, a broken mobile design can mean many lost leads due to frustrated website visitors.
Want to make sure you’re hitting all of your marks for mobile design? Check out Google’s mobile-friendly test tool, which will check for general mobile friendliness as well as provide you with a mobile usability report. The report comes with suggestions on how you can achieve that mobile-friendly designation, with actionable items like code adjustments and image size adjustments.
By making these small tweaks, you can ensure that your website remains competitive. At one time, mobile responsiveness was a way to stay a cut above the competition. However, nowadays it’s the bare minimum for having a viable online marketing campaign. Don’t get left behind by neglecting the mobile friendliness of your company’s website.