UX For Webmasters
Published 24th January 2015
What is UX? Designers know this of course as user experience design and others may also call it User Interface design. Over the last two years, the buzzword in the website design community has been responsive design, but the emphasis has now shifted to UX Design, meaning the buzzword of 2015 for you should be UX (or UXD). And if you have one website or many, you’ll want to look at ways in which you can improve the design and experience for your users, and also understand how it affects your stats and income. Let’s start with the detailed definition of User Experience Design from Wikipedia: “User experience design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product”
Why should you care about UX Design?
A website that has a good user interface is one that has been created with the user in mind. Sure, everyone can say they created a website for a user, but there are too many sites out there that users simply hate. A good UX design and interface makes it easier for users to find what they are looking for, and assists their decisionmaking while navigating your website. If that isn’t enough to make you care about then your stats, analytics and income should be reason enough to make you reconsider using UX when creating websites or redesigning existing ones. Sure, good content helps for SEO and converting your users, but that is half the battle. If you can’t walk your user from one process to another, then expect a higher bounce and exit rate and that is definitely losing money.
The impacts of UX
If you focus on UX on your websites, you can address a lot of important issues that affect your bottom line. Many webmasters think their problem is that they simply need to double their traffic to double their income. But what if you could change your design to increase your conversion rate, reduce your bounce rate, get more pages per visit and having users spending more time on your site, without needing to significantly boost traffic?
This is an easy one. If your site isn’t organised properly and the users are bouncing back to Google, well why would Google want to send any more search traffic to your site if you can’t do anything productive with it? Simply put, if your website has a high enough bounce rate, that is used as a ranking metric and your SEO is already affected. You should focus on reducing your bounce rate regardless, for a whole series of other reasons, but don’t let this affect your search rankings. Moz.com has a detailed article on the relationship with UX design and SEO: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/ how-usability-experience-and-contentaffect-search-engine-rankings
- Conversion rate
You can improve your site’s conversion rate in many ways and your design will always be the way to influence that, whether you have a landing page to convince the user to perform an action, or you have them arrive to the page they are interested in.
Your analytics data can tell you in which areas you need to improve.
Bounce rate: Are users finding what they want on your page? If not, then either you need to adjust your content to help them, or you need to know what they are looking for and make it easier for them to decide which page to visit next. Your navigation within your content can make a real difference.
Pages per session: Lower your bounce rate, and you’ll probably see more pages per session. When you improve the user interface and user experience, your users do more on your site, which involves visiting more pages.
Average session duration: When they visit more pages, this means they spend more time on your site. When a user leaves your website, that is possibly a lost sale. You need to keep them engaged!
Exit rate: Similar to bounce rate, you’ll want to find the pages where people are exiting your website and find ways of capturing their attention and ensuring they spend more time on your site.
Mobile data: With all of the data points above, you can compare your desktop, tablet and mobile users to see your stats. Sometimes just telling a programmer to make your website responsive is notenough. You need to either test your mobile site or look at the data and see if you can improve the data. Some features that exist for the desktop probably don’t make sense to have on the mobile phone and vice versa.
UX design trends
There will always be design trends. With UX, they are worth paying attention to in terms of understanding how they can potentially improve economy of space and usability. However, it’s important not to confuse trends with those that actually have an effect on UX, as there are too many designers out there who play follow the leader and do a particular design just because it’s popular.
- Floating menus
Yes, they are popular and many designers will add them because it is trendy, but floating menus that stay at the top of the website while you scroll the content have been acknowledged to reduce bounce rates and exit rates, while keeping users on your website for longer. How is this possible? Well, your menu is usually a summary of your most important content and topics and by having this information always displayed for the user, it makes it easy for them to consider the next click if they have decided that the page or post they are on isn’t interesting to them anymore. Rather than leaving them completely high and dry, you have at least given yourself an opportunity to keep the user navigating your site, where they might find something they want or need.
- Less is more: clean design
One of the hardest things to do either as a designer or a website owner is rolling back features and links on any website or page. Just consider for a moment what many instructional books say about selling: give the user one option, three options or 25 options, and which one is going to perform the best? You could say it depends on the context of the situation, but in general most people would agree that giving a user too many choices can ruin the sale altogether. When you make it easier for the user to focus on less elements on which to base their decision, you make it easier for them to make that decision, by not overwhelming them with too many options, choices or features. If you need more proof and inspiration for a clean design and how effective it can be, just look at the biggest technology companies around, and you’ll know that they have paid premium money for the best UX designers and people to test their sites for conversion rate optimization (CRO). It is probably via this testing that they are able to achieve designs that are optimal in their performance. Just think about some of the things you can roll back to clean up your design:
- Less links and buttons
- Social media buttons: seriously who uses Google+?
- Too many product choices & banners
- Grid layouts - the death of tables
Grid layouts are starting to appear everywhere and they seem to exist for a few reasons. They look better, look cleaner and we know they are easier elements to view on a mobile device. This tends to imply that tables are becoming less popular among UX designers for use on websites because they are complicated to display on a mobile device. One of the easier ways of displaying data from a table on a smartphone is by breaking up the row and showing it as a ‘card’. If any of you have Android and the Google Now feature, then you’ll be used to Google Now Cards and how clean and simplistic they look. Simply put, tables just don’t break up properly on a mobile phone even if you have responsive design. This requires a UX designer to find an alternative way to display the data, which becomes more work. This is why I argue that grid layouts are the death of the table. If you want the best example of UX design in online gambling, look no further than AskGamblers.com, which re-launched in spring 2014. You will struggle to find a table of data on the site, and notice howitems are organised more in the grid layout. Viewing their website on a desktop, tablet or mobile phone always offers a smooth transition. According to Igor Salindrija of AskGamblers: “There is no single person in AskGamblers that takes care of both UX and UI, although it’s usually considered the same thing. First, we think about users and how they’re going to feel and use our website, how to make it as simple as possible to understand and navigate through such a comprehensive website with so much information, and how to put every single detail in the perfect place. “Gambling is the perfect industry to learn about conversions, unlike many other industries I’ve seen, and the perfect conversion can only be gained with the perfect UX. Let users immediately fi nd what they’re looking for in the spot they expect it. “AskGamblers’ latest redesign covers over 250 pages of mostly text, screenshots and diagrams about UX, and only when we were certain we had the best possible UX, our UI designers were ready to add some art to it.”
UX conferences are getting bigger and bigger year after year and are attracting more webmasters and online marketers that see the importance of UX design. They are also not cheap, but if you want to get an edge on your competition, then you’ll want to consider attending one of these.
- UX Week 2015 uxweek.com August 25 - 28, 2015 San Francisco, California, USA
- Lean UX 2015 leanuxnyc.co (.co not .com) April 15 - 19, 2015 New York City, New York, USA
Great examples of UX Design in other sectors
Some of the best tech companies around are great at making effective landing pages and having websites and apps that feature the best in UX/UI design.
Nailing the UX was important for Uber. On top of having a great service that makes people happy, their website and app are super intuitive, helping people love the brand even more.
Airbnb.com’s website is good for getting you started, but once you are inside, you’ll increasingly realise they have presented the data in the best possible way for users to navigate and complete their transaction.
Fiverr.com is a popular spot now for webmasters when they need stuff done quickly and cheap. Fiverr joins many of the big tech companies that have invested heavily on UX/UI to make it easier for their users to use and navigate the website.
“If you can’t walk your user from one process to another, then expect a higher bounce and exit rate.”
“Grid layouts are starting to appear everywhere. They look cleaner, and we know they are easier elements to view on a mobile device.”