The most useful business websites are easy to navigate. Potential shoppers visiting your WordPress.com page shouldn’t have to spend time looking for what they need. This is where user experience (UX) comes into play. UX involves understanding who your users are, and why they’re visiting your site. Additionally, UX should map out the user journey so that visitors can access information, products, and services.
Launching your site soon? Here are the important UX basics to consider:
Why user experience matters
Good UX is an important part of search engine optimization (SEO), which affects how high your site ranks among search results. Page and site quality factor into how search engines like Google display your site in search results. Poor UX can lead to lower site rankings. The lower that your site ranks, the harder it is for potential shoppers to find you as they’ll have to scan through pages and pages of search results before finding it.
User experience is also critical from a user engagement standpoint. Think about how many times you’ve been to a service provider’s site — whether it’s your local gym or an upholstery cleaner — and just couldn’t find what you were looking for. You had to click on multiple links and visit several pages just to access basic information. This frustrating experience probably led you to search for a different company with better online service.
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, your website is like a digital storefront. You want to give shoppers every reason to come in and explore. Bad UX tends to give visitors every reason to turn away and not come back.
UX basics in 1,2,3
UX consists of three components: understanding the user journey, mapping your site’s information architecture, and testing your site before it goes live.
1. Learn about your users
Good user experience starts with understanding your users, including what they want and what problems you can solve for them. Collect user surveys or become familiar with their product preferences to give yourself a great head start. If you’ve been in business for a long time, you likely already know your shoppers well.
Using this information, consider what visitors would expect to see on your site, and map out the process step by step. If you run a clothing store, think about what kind of users visit your shop and what items they purchase. If your business caters to women in their 20s and 30s who purchase work attire or clothing for special occasions, you might want to dedicate pages on your site for these specific categories. You’ll want to make these pages visible by featuring them on your homepage so they’re easy to find, like in a custom menu. Ask yourself why users visit your site — are they looking for your location and store hours, are they trying to make a purchase, or do they need to schedule an appointment? Whatever your business might be, consider the steps that a shopper takes to complete a task. This will guide you in creating a seamless, frustration-free experience so that fans can complete tasks.
2. Understand information architecture
“Information architecture” is just a technical term for describing how the information on your site is organized. Your site’s content is the foundation for it. Once you understand your shoppers, think about the content that would be the most useful to them. Maybe it’s a blog post that provides detailed information, a “FAQ” page that addresses common pain points, or special sections featuring each product or service offering. If you run a winery, for example, visitors may be interested in tours, tastings, and how they can purchase your wine. To make it easier for users to find this information, you can include a “Visit” page along with your contact information. This way, visitors can call ahead to schedule a tour or tasting. You might also consider including a list of tour times and prices, and a list of wines included with each tour or tasting. You might want a separate “Shop” page that allows shoppers to browse wines, purchase them, and have them shipped to their homes.
With information architecture, it’s important to link to other relevant pages on your site as it helps visitors explore sections they might not have otherwise found. From the winery’s “Visit” page, it may be useful to link to an “Events” page that includes your monthly events calendar and information about how to book special events like weddings or corporate parties at your winery.
Connecting all these elements across your site — and including relevant keywords and headings — will make it easier to navigate. Ultimately, this will lead to a better user experience.
3. Test, test, test
Before your site goes live, test the user journey. How easy is it for shoppers to complete a given task and find the information they need? Are there one or two extra steps that you could eliminate to save them time? Should you add any additional pages?
Test these elements before launching by asking your staff, friends, or family members to troubleshoot your site to see if they experience any issues. They may spot obstacles that you missed when you created the site. Every piece of information on your site should be useful to a potential shopper — if it doesn’t serve this purpose, you should probably get rid of it.
One advantage of WordPress.com’s website templates is that they offer a framework for creating your site. You don’t really have to worry about design, because it’s built into each theme. All you have to consider is your content and how you’ll organize it to best serve users. Once you figure this out, you’ll master UX basics and create a user experience that’s more likely to bring in fans.