Websites are an ideal way to showcase your company’s presence and expertise, and also to interact with your customers. A company with a decent website can save on its marketing spends by avoiding printing-costs of marketing collateral and customer-registration forms. A website, has many advantages, but again, nothing comes without a price. A professionally-designed site can project a small company as a credible brand. While a huge company with a shoddy website might be considered trivial by the online-visitors. So, what attributes make an ideal website? Which features can help an organization drive consumer experience and therefore, help achieve the ultimate objective – conversion? Research and studies have concluded that when it comes to developing an outstanding website, what matters most is the User Interface (UI). It is of primary importance when it comes to improving the User Experience (UX) of a website.
User Interface Design is what comes to your mind when you think of a high-end sports car–the vibrant colors and looks, the trendy-dashboard, sleek-interiors, etc., while UX is the thrill you experience when you’re in the driver’s seat.
Thus, to achieve maximum customer experience, aesthetics is as important in a website as it is in a sports car. A beautiful website can help you make a great first impression. However, it is just one step in the process. Though there are no set standards, the functionalism of a website is determined by many other features, and few of them are listed below –
When you’re counting on your company’s website to convert customer-experience to customer delight, you can’t afford to compromise on usability. For instance, if a user is not able to figure out how to get rid of a pop-up message, or is not able to find the ‘submit’ button easily even after filing a lengthy sign-up form, his/her experience about the website is sure to go bad. Usability is also the aspect that can determine the value proposition of not just the website but the entire organization and the brand. The value proposition, is perhaps, the sole reason why a prospect-customer should choose you and not your competitors. It is also the primary reason whether a visitor will bother using your site or closing it altogether, never to come back. Here are some of the tips that can enhance the usability of a site –
a) Visual hierarchy – A research using advanced Eye-tracking visualizations concluded that users usually do not read but scan, and they do it in F-Shaped Pattern. Hence, placing value-proposition-content in the top of your Home page would make more sense. Also, this is the reason the website’s menu should either be placed horizontally on top or vertically on the left. A video by Jeff Johnson “Psychological Basis for UI Design Rules”, highlights these tenets.
b) Live Chat – This is a feature through which users can find a real-time solution to their issue, either concerning to the organization’s product/service or about the website itself. Having a real person to answer a user’s queries is the best way to enhance customer experience and drive conversions.
c) Home page – Needless to say that Home-page of a website is of utmost importance. However, inappropriate placement of necessary content on the Home-page can make it appear confusing. All product/service categories must be clearly visible and must appear in a logical sequence. The essential content must be present just within one click from the home page, while Keywords must be used to name the primary links.
If a user is unable to easily find the information he needs on the website, it can lead to frustration. Even if he or she ultimately finds it but only after having spent lot of time doing it, it will decrease the user-experience. Here are the tips to make your website more navigable –
a) Search Bar – This feature must prompt the user to search what he/she needs by using basic keywords. Thus, the user will able to scan the entire website content without wasting much time.
b) Site Map – It’s the arrangement of links for all the pages on the website. Can be placed on the bottom of the website, as it usually done.
c) Button to go back and forth with ease – As per Dr. Jakob Nielsen, an authority in UI, these are quite important. He quotes: “Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.”
A website must serve the purpose it has been built for. And most often than not, organizations use it as a combination of Marketing, PR and Customer Service platform. Hence, essential customer-touch-points like Registration-forms, Consumer-Review Boxes, etc., must be comprehensive and comprehendible. The following are the tips to improve it –
a) Aesthetics – All fonts, text and graphical content must be user-centric, clear and visible. Glossy colors and fonts must be avoided and the background-color must be light and pleasant. Studies show that judgments on website credibility are 75% based on a website’s overall aesthetics.
b) Call-to-action – The Call-to-action phrases must be catchy and self-explanatory. It’s also essential to give a brief about them before placing them on objects like – demos, specials, forms, newsletters and other interactive tools.
c) Loading-time – As per a research, slow-loading websites cost retailers £1.73 billion ($2.6 billion) in lost sales since 2006! This statistics must be a reason enough to optimize your website.
d) SEO-friendly Content – In order to ensure your website ranks high on the organic search-list of Search Engines, the content on your website must be original, easy to comprehend (no jargon), and have optimal number of SEO-Keywords.
When you develop a website, it is important to ensure that it is compatible across all platforms and browsers, including mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. With the ever-growing popularity of smartphones, making your website mobile-responsive and mobile-friendly has become a necessity. A research has shown that 85% of adults think that a company’s mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop website.
These tips can go a long way in making a Website User Interface Design as efficient and user-friendly as possible. Creating a website rich on User Interface will inescapably deliver rich User Experience, and help the organization achieve its business goals.