In the midst of our focus on search engine optimization and on packing our websites with endless images, video clips, and other engagement tools, we sometimes forget about the basics and cause our site visitors frustration.
But the modern website design process is putting far more focus on the “user experience,” and on the fact that the web connects real people, who come to your site with a specific intent and with specific expectations.
There are numerous aspects to web design, each of them important. Without good SEO, no one would ever find your incredible website; without user engagement, many visitors will stay but briefly; and without a “user friendly design,” users will get lost, confused, and annoyed, no matter how great its content, SEO, and offered products/services are.
Consider “User Intent”
Beyond just driving more traffic to your website, you need to design your homepage and other web pages to accommodate users with specific reasons for visiting your site. The design needs to make it as fast and easy as possible to “get done” whatever the user intends to do.
Here are three classes of users to keep in mind:
- Informational: This group of users come to your site just looking for basic information on a product/service, on your business history, or even just for contact information. For them, it is crucial to be able to spot and quickly navigate to your About Us page, your Contact page, or a specific product page.
- Educational: Other users arrive looking for a “real education,” as opposed to just tidbits of data. They want to learn in-depth information about your products/services, so put expand buttons or links under each product/service that will quench their hunger for knowledge. Also have a blog listed in the menu bar on top of the home page that is easy to search and navigate (and of course is packed with detailed information that will establish your company as an industry expert!).
- Transactional: This is what you want to convert every user into, but some come already pre-converted. They are looking to quickly find a specific product and move on through the checkout line. That’s why your checkout process needs to be streamlined, quick, involve as few steps as possible and not ask for unnecessary information.
But how can you figure out what kind of intentions users have so you can analyze and track this valuable data? Answer: set up Users Flow reports in Google Analytics. This will break down traffic based on where users came from, what actions they took while at your site, and what was the last page they visited before leaving.
Focus On Navigation
Many times, a site will be very well designed aesthetically, but resemble the Bermuda Triangle navigationally. You can’t have that. Because unlike the Bermuda Triangle, navigators always can find their way out of your website (and may not “sail there” again after a bad experience).
Some basic principles of good site navigation design include:
- Always show a navigation bar on the top or left side of the screen.
- Put your “home” button far toward the left/top. It needs to be highly visible so it can be used as a kind of “rewind” or “restart” button.
- Place action buttons toward the far right or bottom of the screen. Users are used to gaining information first before making a decision, and they tend to move from left to right and top to bottom.
- Limit the number of meta categories in the navigation bar as much as possible, but use natural, “intuitive” categorizations and include as many subcategories as you want.
- Keep navbar labels short but clear. Write “Manage My Account,” not “Account” or “Manage My Subscription Account Here.”