The User is Always Right
This post is a continuation of my previous post, your customers aren’t idiots, which is focused on landing pages. Be sure to check it out too!
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘The Customer is Always Right’. Something else that needs to be just as prevalent, especially in the world of design is, The User is Always Right. A website can be fully functional, have the best content, and somehow still not convert users. Sometimes it’s not as simple as creating a working website and writing content. There are different factors to consider, how customers use your website, who uses your website, and how exactly you stack up to your competitors.
There are certain things that you can do on your website that will drive your users insane — Modal windows that are nearly impossible to close (especially on mobile), using slide shows for more content, way too many ads, poor navigation.
It’s easy to become blind to the problems on your website, especially when you’re used to navigating around them every single day. New users aren’t going to have that kind of patience with your website. This is why it’s important to have other users test your website. You can use services for this, or you can use sites like Craigslist to find people to test your website.
While you can use Google Analytics to find things like frequent exit pages, and which pages give you the highest bounce rate — that won’t be the whole picture. You still won’t have any idea why those users are leaving on those pages. Or why those pages aren’t working.
What am I doing wrong?
Frequently, I see websites making the same mistakes over and over — each and every one of them is killing user experience.
If your modal window opens at the top of a page, and your user is able to scroll to the bottom BEFORE the modal window opens — that’s a bad user experience.
If your content is buried beneath ads, slideshows, pop over video ads, and big useless images of a slightly blurred coffee house — you’re not doing yourself any favors. And when websites are designed this way, it really makes me wonder what the goal is. Every site and every single page needs to be designed with a goal in mind.
Is your goal to get your users to fill out a form? Frame the form with your content and design. Everything should lead to the form, and even your content should support the idea of filling it out. Don’t add a step between the user seeing that form, take them directly to it.
If the goal is to engage users, and have them spend time on your website, where can they navigate to at the bottom of your content? Show more articles that might be of interest, give them navigation, something.
If the goal is to sell a product, every page should support and reinforce the decision to buy that product. If your whole site is ecommerce and isn’t focused on one product, then the focus should be bolster your reputation as a seller. Why should someone buy from you?
Don’t roll out sweeping changes on your website without testing. A/B test all changes to your website to insure that you’re not making things worse for your users. While everything may look like an improvement, users may disagree. Especially since most users don’t like change. Keep this in mind so that you can roll out changes to your pages slowly.
And lastly, improving user experience is an ongoing process. Users needs change just as your company will change. Don’t forget that your website needs to change as well.