If you want to optimize your website and turn visitors into customers, you need to provide a great user experience. Here are 5 ways to do it:
- Get rid of fancy “stuff and things”
Websites today aren’t as cluttered with animated GIFs and poor color combinations as they were in the 1990s, but many of them are just as cluttered with unnecessary stock images. Just because your website’s theme came with a spot for a large stock photo doesn’t mean you need to put one there.
Take a look at each of your webpages and see if there are any elements you can completely eliminate without taking away from your message or the action you want people to take. For example, if you have five paragraphs describing how your company was created, see if you can condense it into just three by using shorter sentences and powerful descriptions.
Anything that doesn’t actively add to the user’s experience should be eliminated.
- Understanding the end user experience
Unless you communicate with your end users, or people who qualify to represent them, you’ll never know what their experience actually is. You might have the most expensive, high tech software available on the market, but those features are meaningless if they don’t translate to happy end users.
You’re probably most familiar with this in your business. If your end users happen to be your staff members, you know that even the best collaboration and communication tools aren’t going to guarantee success. Success will always be defined by the best collaboration experience. Experience is what counts, and your website should be an extension of this sentiment.
When it comes to your website, your visitors are your end users. The only difference is, many of them are anonymous. So how do you optimize an experience for an anonymous end user? One way is to ask for feedback from people on your mailing list. The other way is to approach building your site from a minimalistic standpoint, making it ridiculously easy to navigate.
- Eliminate unnecessary choices
People really do suffer from “analysis paralysis” when there are too many options for them to select from. That’s because it takes time and energy to process all available choices and the more people have to sift through, the more exhausting their experience.
An article from the Nielsen Norman Group demonstrates the frustration of too many choices by discussing the new soda machines that serve only one user at a time, but contain multiple screens worth of flavors. Someone thought this was a good idea, and they’ve been popping up in various restaurants; but because of the amount of work involved just to get a soda, many people won’t even bother.
If you’re making people work too hard to get the information they came for on your website, take a good look through your pages and simplify the choices available. The idea is to guide people through an experience.
- Prioritize reality over guru speak
By now you should know that website and marketing gurus are out there to make money. The advice they sell might be legitimate, and it might not be. It could be outdated, or it may not apply well to your industry. That’s the problem with buying boxed advice – your individual circumstances aren’t taken into account.
No matter what the gurus say, if you’re getting feedback from your visitors or staff members about areas of your website that don’t work well or need to be improved, listen to them. If you get an email from an angry visitor telling you they got bombarded with three popups, you might want to turn all but one of them off, no matter what your guru says about the exit popup.
- Don’t use your home page as a squeeze page
The only time it’s appropriate to use your home page as a squeeze page is if that’s your entire website’s intended purpose and you have nothing else to share with people.
If you’re a business with products and services, or you have content you want your visitors to find, your home page should serve those needs first and foremost.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have an email capture form on your home page. Providing an email capture form doesn’t make it a squeeze page. A squeeze page prompts the visitor to take only one action – to give you their email address.
You can enhance the user experience for your visitors quite a bit just by eliminating unnecessary content from your site, and simplifying the process of selecting options for navigation. Above all else, always ask yourself, “Is this working?” If not, change it or remove it – your users will thank you.