Part 2: How user experience & user interface excellence can keep customers coming back
Every business owner should take the time to review the performance of this tool and look for ways to optimize its performance. Updating, revising or completely changing your website or application’s user interface (UI) and finding ways to improve the online user experience (UX) can yield significant dividends in terms of improved performance, increased sales and repeat business.
Our client, Woodbine Entertainment Group, just completed a major update to its online horseplayer interactive platform (HPIbet.com) to enhance the UX/UI, attract new customers, improve performance and provide new features that customers wanted. Significant effort was made to ensure both the UX and UI met the goals and requirements for the application that were established at the start of the project.
Whether you are developing a website or building an application for internal or external audiences, here are some tips for getting the experience and interface right:
- DON’T MAKE THEM THINK: Your customers or users shouldn’t wonder what a link does or the function of a button and feel they have to click to figure it out. You’re making them work for no reason, which will lead to frustration and abandonment. Make it crystal clear what links and buttons do.
- DEFINE STRUCTURE: In most application and website design, 90% of people use only 10% of functions. A good user interface makes those 10% functions easy to find at the highest level and from all devices. The rest of the functions while important, can be easily found in the second or third levels. Knowing that needs to be in that top 10% comes back to defining the purpose of your website.
- DON’T HIDE: While 10% of the content is the most used, don’t make it hard to find the remaining 90% (or worse make your customers seek out help or read a manual). Have all the content discoverable, just don’t clutter the topline information that the majority will use.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE: Everyone uses websites differently and for different reasons. By making it easy to get to the information people want, the better their overall impression of your site and your company.
- TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS: We all think we know what our customers want, but do we really? We’ll talk more about testing next time but for now, it’s important to recognize the value of testing your assumptions, application or site to ensure you’re hitting the intended mark. (More on this next time).
- DESIGN IS SUBJECTIVE: Understanding your target audience’s demographics, preferences, and personality can help you hone the design to better resonate with their own personal experience, ensuring a positive experience with your website or application.
- THINK ABOUT MOBILE: The time to cater to desktop users alone is long past. Consider how users will connect from a range of different devices and make sure that experience is consistent across all device types.
[ Read our whitepaper — Why New Business Development Needs Responsive Web Site Design ]
- OFFER FEEDBACK: When a user completes tasks or fills in forms, let them know the process is complete. All too often you click a button to complete a task and never really know if anything even happened. Tell users, don’t leave them in the dark or keep them guessing.
- DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL: There are standard colours, icons and methods that provide sub-conscious information (like using green for accepted or task completed, red for missing information/error, a house icon signaling the home page, or a “?” for help). You don’t need to create a whole new set of icons or navigation structures. Use the ones people are familiar with so they don’t have to learn a whole new language or think!
- BE CONSISTENT: From the language you use (first versus third person) to the style, navigation and colours, consistency lets users feel familiar with your site and familiarity translates to comfort and ease of interaction … all of which produce a positive experience.
- EXPECT SURPRISES: I can’t count the number of times Whitecap customers think they know what their customers want and need, only to find out a whole new set of requirements is actually more important. Staying flexible to new requirements is important.
Regardless of whether you are revamping an existing website or application, or building something new, you need to know the primary purpose of that tool so you can categorize and organize the content appropriately.
This is the last part of our blog series “Is Your Website Doing Its Job?” — read the previous posts here:
Part 1: Is Your Website Doing Its Job?
Part 2: I Never Thought I Would Blog. I Was Wrong.
Part 3: Is Your Social Media Strategy Doing Its Job?
Part 4: SEO’s Integral Role in Helping Your Website Do Its Job.
Part 5: User Experience Design: Website Friend or Foe?