New year, new you — new website?
You may not be starting from scratch. But there are always website design details that can be improved, and your user experience should be at the top of the list.
Keeping a static UX doesn’t do anyone any favors. Your visitors expect top-notch, cutting-edge, effective design and interfacing. If they don’t get that, they’re unlikely to return. Happy visitors equal happy web owners, maintainers, runners, and clients — so the UX is of high importance.
How can you keep your website’s user experience as awesome as possible?
Let’s take a look at some improvements you can make this year.
Improve Your Page Loading Speed
Loading speed continues to be one of the most important factors in UX. It impacts not only how an individual visitor views your site, but ultimately plays a part in your search engine rankings, which further impacts how many visitors actually arrive on your site at all.
Not only will trimming your load time boost your UX, it will actually make it more likely that your visitors stick around. Statistics state that if your site takes longer than three seconds to load, more than 50% of your visitors will bail out.
Upgrade Your Images
Speaking of images, choosing your graphics and photos wisely is an important part of maintaining a decent loading time, and boosting your UX. Every piece of visual content counts toward loading time, whether it’s something small, like a company logo design, or something that requires more time and space, like a video.
In terms of the overall layout, the fewer images, the better. But that doesn’t always boost the aesthetic appeal of the site, which is also an important factor in UX.
To maintain a good balance between the number of images and user-friendliness, make sure that your chosen images are properly sized and optimized. Don’t lean heavily on GIFs, which take longer to load, and avoid auto-play videos. You can use image compression tools like Squoosh on your chosen images to make sure that they have the smallest file size while still maintaining excellent quality.
If you’re having any trouble with this aspect, use a tool such as this Website Speed Test Image Analysis to highlight areas that can be improved. Remember, visual content is one of the best ways to reach your audience and motivate them to act, but it needs to be balanced with speed and accuracy in order to ensure good user experience.
Declutter Your Layout
Web designers talk about simplicity a lot, and there’s a reason for that. The simpler a design, the easier it is to use, the more effective it is, and the better the user experience. That’s why “decluttering” your site makes it on this list.
As a group, we tend to shy away from things that seem overly complicated or overwhelming. And that applies to the websites we visit, too. If at first glance, a site just seems too busy or has too much going on, it’s much less likely that we will invest our time and energy into understanding and navigating it, especially if it’s the first visit.
You can reduce this probability by ensuring that there is plenty of white space included in your web design. White space is soothing, allowing a neutral zone so your visitor doesn’t get overwhelmed, while also enhancing the focus on the important information. That makes it easier to point your visitors to where you want them to go, as well as improving navigation.
A site that is easy to understand, easy to navigate, and which doesn’t overwhelm the visitor is definitely a win-win on the UX front.
Structure Your Content
How you structure your content can be almost as important as what you actually include in your content. Yes, you want to create a site that is accurate, reliable, possibly entertaining, definitely engaging, and your content is what ensures a lot of that.
But if your visitors get distracted, or don’t have the attention span for reading through long paragraphs and lengthy articles, all that accuracy, reliability, entertainment, and engagement will be for nothing.
The structure of your content also plays into how your site is ranked on search engines, largely because it impacts how long a visitor stays on-site and how many pages they click. So, for example, WordPress has a number of optimization plugins that help you to structure your content in statistically-proven ways.
This means using bullet points, lots of subheadings, short sentences, short paragraphs, and articles of at least 300 words. If you want to increase the possibility that an individual article will be read and shared by more visitors, aim for rarity and put together content of 2000 words or more. But if you want an average-length article, well, there’s research on the optimum word count for all sorts of different article types, too.
The key here is knowing your target audience and crafting content that is designed to reach and interest them. A big part of good UX is knowing exactly who the U is, and what they want out of their X.
New Year, New UX
All of these tips will be just as effective next year as they are this year. But that doesn’t mean that your UX won’t need improvement next year, too.
The whole point behind a good user experience is to provide what the user wants and needs. To anticipate what they’re expecting from your site, and going beyond that to deliver even more.
As website users and site visitors continue to adapt and change, so must your site’s UX. That’s really the only way that you can continue to deliver the best possible experience to everyone who visits your site.
Natasha Sokolov is a freelance content writer who digs deep to bring out fresh aspects of the topic she writes about. She can write on any topic under the moon in particular niches such as branding, digital marketing and online businesses.