Man browsing on his smartphone.
Aside from your content, features like mobile optimization and unique images are important to the majority of customers visiting your website. — Getty Images/Deagreez

If you’re running a business of just about any kind today, it’s of critical importance to have a robust digital presence. Whether you’re trying to provide basic information such as where people can visit you in person or you sell products or services online, it often starts with a website. But if you don’t have a website that is easy to use and simple to navigate, you can lose many sales.

Here are six things you can do to create a better user experience for customers visiting your website.

Understand your customer

One of the most important things you can do when designing or redesigning your website is researching and knowing your customer’s profile. Questions you should be asking about your users when designing your site include:

  • What demographic of users are you targeting?
  • What type of devices are customers most likely to use when learning about you?
  • What are customers primarily looking for from your company?
  • How long do people spend on your website?
  • What do people click on most frequently on your site?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help inform your design philosophy.

Make navigation simple

If someone arrives at your website and can’t find what they are looking for despite being available, you’ve lost a customer and sale. As such, you need to spend time making your navigation logical and straightforward.

“Navigation forms the entire architecture of your site,” Strategist and designer Lexie Lu writes for 99Designs. “Look at internal analytics and see where visitors head when they land on your website. The top performers likely form categories for your navigation structure. Elements such as content and FAQs go under each main category. Where you place elements in your navigation bar matters, too. For example, the most critical categories should appear first and less important ones farthest to the right.”

Two common problems for websites that can scare away potential customers are slow load times and the site not working correctly for common mobile browsers.

Ensure your site is fast and mobile-friendly

Two common problems for websites that can scare away potential customers are slow load times and the site not working correctly for common mobile browsers. First off, part of your design process should make sure your site loads quickly. An Aberdeen Group suggests that 40% of shoppers will immediately exit a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and they won’t come back.

Relatedly, part of your design process should include testing your site for popular mobile browsers, including Safari, Chrome, Samsung Internet and Firefox. As of mid-2021, more than half of all global internet traffic comes from mobile devices, and its share grows every year. With that in mind, mobile users will expect to land on mobile-optimized sites and mobile users are five times more likely to exit your site when it’s not.

Add non-stock images

One pitfall that can turn off potential customers and users is reliance on stock photography. Some types of stock images can make customers feel like they don’t understand your brand, and they can decrease trustworthiness.

“While it is cheap and easy to upload stock photos, it is best to avoid stock photos altogether,” digital marketing ambassador Philip Kushmaro writes for SEMRush. “This is true regardless of whether you hire a professional photographer or take the pictures yourself. Stock photography may look professional, but they are often impersonal, vacuous, and devoid of character.”

Test the site and collect feedback

Once your site is live, be sure to do frequent testing and have regular people that are not employees test the site to get a wide range of feedback.

You can also create a giveaway to users who complete a survey about what they think about the site experience. A survey can include questions such as:

  • Can you rate our website from one to five stars?
  • What can we do to make your experience better?
  • Which features would you like to see added to our site?
  • Were your expectations generally met?

Customize 404 and error pages

Finally, one thing that can be forgotten when designing a website is what happens when users land on a non-existent page. This can happen when a bug causes the site to direct to the wrong page or a user types in the incorrect URL. To make this experience better, create a customized 404 error page that is friendly and helps direct customers to where they want to go. Many big-named companies such as Airbnb, LEGO, Mailchimp, Slack and Pixar have created clever 404 pages to help keep customers engaged and on-site.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published May 26, 2021