Why Small Business Websites Should Focus on UX?
What Is UX Design?
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UX Design is a relatively new term. Thus, it does not have a widely accepted definition. However, the objective of the UX Design is to make customers engage with a product by providing them value and pleasure. It is all about elevating a customer’s holistic experience while he/she is interacting with a product or a service.
Experts say that UX Design happens always but at an unconscious level.
A designer, to an extent, designs a website from a customer’s point of view. But good UX Design is achieved when one ponders the needs of both the customers and business before designing a website. But wait! UX Design does not stop with a website.
Touchpoints such as newsletters, marketing messages, return policies, personalized offers and press releases too need UX Design. At the end of the day, it is all about how a user feels while interacting with a website, web app and the like.
Importance of UX
Humans, in general, are fuelled by visual stimuli. Various researches show that images create our long-term memory. Nearly 90% of the information received by our brain is visual. This is where User Experience Design comes into play
Being a small-scale enterprise, you cannot afford to lose your investment costs. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your audience.
By creating a memorable user experience using the right visual elements, one can dramatically boost the conversion rates. For example, a research report states that “intentional and strategic user experience” can augment the conversion rates by up to an astonishing 400%.
The biggest takeaway for a small store from this piece of information is the conversions it can harvest from a good UX Design. Because when ecommerce giants like Amazon are preferring Customer Experience over advertising, it is a no-brainer for the smaller companies on what to choose.
Research after research shows that users are no longer interested just in information; they want an experience. UX is one good strategy to present an experience to your users.
As a small store, you must dissect your website and clinically analyze how a user navigates it and consumes the information it gives. Doing so will give you a bird’s-eye view of your site. The craze you had for parallax scrolling a year ago may now appear outdated and overwhelming for you and your audience.
You will be more inclined to transform your website into a clean and minimalistic one to suit your audience expectations. This transformation can happen only when you start considering UX Design a serious business.
How UX Can Add Value To Your Small Business Website?
First things first: UX Design can create a good impression for your small business and your products, if done right. Your company will not get lost in the sea of websites as long it is unique and gives a personalized experience. It can give a positive experience for the visitors and make them trust you and your products.
For example, a step-by-step guide to install a DIY furniture with illustrations will elevate a customer’s experience to a whole new level. This experience, in turn, will reward you with recurring customers.
Likewise, good UX Design will help you increase Return of Investment (ROI). When the design is appealing, customers are most likely to engage with the site. The more time they spend their time on your site, the more chances you have to promote your products/services. This will ensure that your products/services get more visibility.
Consequently, the Conversion Rate of your website will improve to a considerable extent.
SEO: Search engines like Google and Bing have evolved a lot in the last decade. Factors such as your web interface’s quality, page dwell time, bounce rate, mobile responsiveness and page speed determine your small business website’s ranking. This is where User Experience Design scores.
When a great UX Design grabs the attention of users and makes them engage, search engines see value in your site. If most of your visitors exit the site upon viewing just one page, it signals Google that your site does not provide value.
Organized URL structure, menus and headers will attract new leads like a magnet. Another great advantage you have with a good UX Design is that it helps you declare who your target audience are.
When you know exactly who your customers are, it will be easy for you to decide on the type of content for your website. And when you curate the content for your target audience, your expenditure towards the Support Team will become low. Because when a visitor finds all the relevant information on your site, he or she is not going to email you for more info.
How To Create An Engaging UX For Your Small Business Website?
Focus On Design
Sticking to the six Gestalt Principles of Design is a fool-proof method for a great UX Design. The principles are Similarity, Proximity, Closure, Connection, Continuity and Figure/Ground. When applied, these principles simplify a user’s perception through categorization and grouping.
For example, grouping similar features or menus by proximity will make picking one option among a few a lot easier for a user. Likewise, positioning headlines closer to the respective sections will improve the readability score.
Coherence between font sizes, colors, layouts and the like achieve similarity. Scroll Hints bring connection/continuity between different elements of a page by telling users whether content exists beyond a certain point.
Positioning frequently chosen functions and features closer to users will make selection a breeze. Inclusion of key product info on product listing is a great way to improve usability. Prepopulating your forms and simplifying them will make interactions between your site and users streamlined.
Going overboard is a mistake UX designers often make. In a bid to make the design unique and offbeat, designers tend to complicate things to a point wherein a user faces difficulty to even find the basic menus.
They may be awestruck by the site design, but puzzling them with ‘invisible’ menus is a guaranteed way to drive them away. Choosing a right navigation pattern is another challenge one may face. Picking Hamburger Menu style for a desktop site may not be a great idea though the style is gaining traction among desktop sites.
Please note that the Navigation Bar still rules the desktop sites. It is pretty straightforward and promotes clarity. If your inventory is large, picking Dropdown Menu style over Mega Menus is an outdated idea.
However, it does not mean that Dropdown Menu style is dead. The reason experts do not recommend Dropdown Menu style is that it has become difficult for search engines to crawl through. Remember: No menu style is bad, but bad choices exist.
Boost Page Speed
Three seconds. You have just three seconds to captivate your audience. Else, at least 53% of your visitors will exit your website and move on to another one. This piece of information was pulled from an article by ‘Think with Google’. With global internet penetration rate is at 59%, the attention span of people is dwindling day by day.
Owning just a website is no more a cool thing. Having a fluid and user-friendly website will definitely put you in the driver’s seat. If your website takes more than three seconds to load the content, there are countless sites waiting behind to provide the same value that you offer. Keep in mind: Your website is not indispensable.
Leading designers suggest that using Google fonts will make your site load faster. Use social media buttons only when it is absolutely necessary. Accordions have proven to be efficient in increasing a web page’s speed.
Accordions are nothing but ‘Read/Know/Learn More’ buttons that allow serious users to view hidden content. Optimizing images before uploading to your site will significantly improve page speed. Use animations and videos judiciously on your site to achieve speed.
Think of your users as children. Would you want them to learn things all by themselves? No, right? Then keep the most important links and menus on the top of the page to make them more noticeable.
Maintain uniformity and ease in web pages for better maneuverability within your site. It is advisable to go with common website patterns and user interfaces. If you make your users learn something new, chances are high for them to get frustrated and leave the site.
Don’t let your users hit dead end pages. They will get confused and may end up closing the site. Always link your site logo with your homepage. Because users are accustomed to certain practices, no matter how modern your website looks.
While designing your website, keep color blind users in mind. Don’t use an unusual color just because it compliments your site’s design. One way to ensure that all users read the vital information is to convert your design to grayscale.
To make your Call To Action (CTA) buttons stand out, give a unique color to them. Using the samecolor, you have given to CTA buttons for other features will distract the users. It is advisable to keep the dark colors at the background and bright colors on the foreground.
Using colors like blue for text will negatively affect the readability score. Pay attention to the contrast on mobile websites as the screen glare can make your content illegible.
Design for Mobile Phones
Elements of a mobile site should be evenly placed. Opt for Hamburger Menus to make your site cleaner. Keep the minimum size of a feature 1 cm x 1 cm. In other words, all touchpoints of a mobile website should be tappable using your thumbs. Restrict vertical swiping for webpage scrolling.
Disable double-taps for mobile websites and make users engage with your site using single taps. Don’t keep a mobile website’s hierarchy more than 3 levels deep and use floating menus for quick selection.
Always deploy breadcrumbs to inform your users where they are exactly on your site. Hiding vital features like ‘Search’ or ‘Login’ will affect usability.
For mobile websites, Dropdown Menus should always be vertical. Likewise, Mega Menus should be narrower than a page size. Distinguish between clickable and non-clickable menus using contrast.
Include Forms & Buttons
Fast scanning can be achieved if your form labels and fields are aligned in a single vertical line. Similarly, field labels should not be inside the text field. Create ‘Sections’ if your web forms are too long. Showing errors next to the fields concerned will be convenient for users to make corrections.
Keep your error messages concise and simple. Give tips to make corrections. Showing the number of errors on a web page will make corrections a breeze. Highlight buttons so that your users know those are clickable. Frequently chosen buttons should be bigger in size and must be placed at viewable spots.
Give a visual cue that a button has been clicked. Show a warning message after a user clicked a button that deletes or modifies data. By doing so, you can prevent the action if it was an accidental tapping.
Joseph Schneider is the Director of Marketing at Haitna, who generates best-in-class posts related to search engine optimization, social media marketing, PPC, marketing automation, and more.