While planning out the long list of objectives and goals for this year, improving your website is sure to make an appearance. Alongside your website goals to increase traffic, improve conversion rates, and create new content is your goal to drastically improve user experience, right? Well, that’s where it should be. However, a new report shows that only
#1. The obvious is not so obvious
As someone who is constantly on your site, you see little to no user issues. That is most likely because you have learned to subconsciously alter your path to make your site personally user-friendly. You constantly right click to open each new page in a new tab. When logging in you quickly move your cursor to the back button to automatically return to the home screen instead of the blank ‘logged in’ page. You daydream while waiting the usual three to five seconds for each page to load. These are all usability issues that you have learned to ignore after using your website about 100,000 times.
However, one thing is for certain, your users have not used your site 100,000 times and they will not subconsciously know how to better their own experience. In fact, users will do quite the opposite; they will very consciously ponder why they were taken to an unknown page and how they can return to where they actually want to be. They will look at the screen and wonder why it is so hard to find what they are looking for, slowly getting more frustrated with your website.
To users, it is not obvious that the menu is hidden once they scroll down and it is not clear that to contact you they have to click through three different pages. So, stop neglecting user experience because your site is easy to use for YOU. Instead, try thinking about your site from the vantage point of the user, try different routes to get to where you’re going and consider where users might get lost. Even better, work on getting real user feedback and learning where your own users are getting frustrated with your site.
#2. You don’t know your users as well as you think
You might assume you know your users because your business is still above water and users ‘seem to be satisfied’. However, more often than not, companies get stuck assuming that their users are the exact same as when the site was originally built. This is astronomically far from reality.
To start, odds are that you have not met your users face-to-face 95% of the time. You might have an idea of the general statistics of your ideal user group, but you have not mapped out the ever-changing user personas. The types of users change, behaviors change and as technology changes user expectations transform. This is why it is essential to always question user generalizations and question the validity of user assumptions.
Questioning is a skill that can transform your understanding of your users. Why, what if, and how are three of the most valuable questions that you can ask to consistently identify different user grievances on your site. Leave assumptions behind and consistently strive to learn more about your users.
Focus on learning more about your users; this is an opportunity to directly interact with your current users–also known as your customers. Approach real users for their feedback, learn about their intentions on your site, and ask how you can make their experience better. Interacting with real users relays that your company inherently believes that the user is important for the well being of your company–a massive bonus for customer retention and satisfaction.
#3. You’re disregarding 10-20% of your users
Whether because of some form of color blindness, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder, a healthy portion of your users could be struggling with your website. While not an obvious issue to some, the way your site is laid out could make it impossible for other users to successfully use your site. By being aware of common frustration points for these users, you can assure that your site is accommodating, or at least usable, for all.
For example, intense contrasts of typography and background colors can cause immense problems for those with dyslexia. Moreover, the color schemes you are using could be causing users with certain forms of color blindness to completely miss your call to actions. While some users strive to focus on the content you provide, others are perpetually drawn away from your content by the sidebar ads you have throughout your side. Although a website cannot address the possible needs of every user, there are ways to assure that certain conditions are accounted for. For most, minimalism, attention to color combinations, and accommodating typography is a good place to start.
#4. Your content is being ignored
Your content is the bread and butter of your website but, without the proper attention, it can get ignored. Your content is either too hard to find, it isn’t high quality, or it isn’t what your audience wants or needs. To start, quality content is one of the most significant parts of user experience. If you are giving users information that they already know or that is not relevant to them, you are not providing a worthy user experience.
For example, a substantial part of the content for an e-commerce website includes descriptions of the products offered. Too often e-commerce sites get caught up telling the user what they already know or displaying information that is not relevant.
Maybelline’s description of a new lip gloss does not tell the user that the product is actually a lip gloss–instead of a lipstick like the image portrays–until ¾ of the way down the product description. The amount of fluff and lack of quality information leaves the user with no details on what the product is, what it does, or how it accomplishes what it claims. The content only manages to distract the user with convoluted prose and an unconventional way to apply the product.
In contrast, W3ll People’s description of a lip gloss provides a much different user experience. Users are presented with a clear product description that explains what the lip gloss is, what it does, and how it accomplishes the claims made. W3ll People gives users power over the content by providing them with further information in the form of tabs. Users know exactly where they can find more information on the product but this further info is not forced on them–eliminating the potential for irrelevant content. The quality and availability of content here helps to make sure the content is not ignored and that it is helpful to the user.
#5. User expectations are on the rise
As people spend more time online each year, the expectations of the online experience will only increase. In fact, a recent report by Limelight (PDF) showed that 45% of respondents spend on average 15+ hours a week online outside of work. With this rise of time spent online comes higher expectations of the online experience. These expectations are intensified even more with the rise of mobile interactions. Not only is the desktop experience vital but also now the mobile experience is just as important–and even more difficult to understand.
The study also showed that the performance of a site, including the site speed, was the most important expectation for over half of the respondents. Moreover, 34% of respondents claimed they would leave a site for a competitor if it site took too long to load. By not addressing certain user experience issues, you could be losing customers to competitors that give more attention to user experience.
Moreover, current user experience problems will be multiplied as time passes. Future website additions cannot feasibly be built without understanding what is currently unsatisfactory or limiting. The same problems will persist and new features will only build on top of past user grievances. So, to be able to accommodate future user expectations, you must address current user experience issues. User experience is paving the way for future online interactions and if you do not address user experience now, it will only become more problematic in the future.
Many have addressed user experience in the past and think that it is only relevant when first building or redesigning a website. However, user experience is an ongoing commitment that takes time, care, and dedication to continually provide the best experience possible for users. With the growing expectations of users on both desktop and mobile, user experience needs will only continue to grow. Besides, why wouldn’t you want to give your users–your customers–the best experience possible on your site? If you didn’t already make a list of ways to improve user experience while reading this article, now would be the time to stop neglecting UX.
Images: ” User Experience road sign with sun background /Shutterstock.com“
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