The Major Driving Force Behind A Killer Website
Our Thoughts on Why Small Businesses Should Care About User Experience
Remember your first algebra class? I know, I know, I just ruined your day with a bad memory—you’ll have to forgive me. You were probably 10 or 11 years old, and all of a sudden you’re trying to decipher variables and new vocabulary and get used to the fact that your teacher’s words are starting to sound a lot like a Charlie Brown special (wah wah, anybody?). Truth is, we’ve all been there. Stuck in a classroom with an instructor who’s a far cry from the world’s best at describing complex math concepts in terms we can actually understand.
Now think about this. Your customers are like students, and as a business owner, it’s easy for you to become the dreaded teacher in that scenario. There’s a chance you may be unknowingly presenting your services or products to your customers this way via your website. In the same way that it’s difficult for a beginner to be taught by an expert who isn’t good at simplifying information, a lot of websites built by business owners are built based on how the information logically flows to the owner, and not the customer.
Many business owners have a hard time realizing how someone unfamiliar with their product or service would experience their website. As someone so integrated into and knowledgeable about your field, it may be hard for you to imagine yourself as a person who is stumbling upon your product or service for the first time, and what their experience might be using your website. You’ve probably put so many hours and so much care into every detail. Could you possibly sit at your computer and experience your site as if you’d never set eyes on it before? Probably not, if we’re being honest… So let’s talk about user experience, because it’s something that few business owners understand, but it can make or break your conversions.
What is user experience, actually?
User experience is most easily examined by looking at user flows, or the individual paths your users follow through your website interface to complete a task. Each user flow takes them from their entry point through a set of steps towards a successful outcome and final action, such as purchasing a product or signing up for a service. While this all sounds fancy, it’s pretty easy to know when a website doesn’t have good user flow. I mean, chances are you’ve gotten frustrated with a website before. Think back to the last time you texted your spouse frustrated emojis or yelled expletives to the other room while in the throes of a non-user-friendly website situation. Yep, that was most likely due to bad user flow.
Knowing a site has bad user flow is easy, but knowing how to correct it isn’t as simple. But let’s start here: a few key components in understanding user flow are knowing how the user got to your website, what their motivation is, and how easy your site is to navigate for them.
Why should you care about possible user journeys?
It’s important to design a website with a consumer’s perspective and journey in mind. Prioritizing user flows and focusing on the ones that add the most value to the most potential users should drive your basic flow design. Whether you’re building a brand new website or looking to improve an existing user experience, a solid outline that establishes clear user journeys will keep you out of the pitfall of just having a bunch of individual pages with dead ends, and instead focus on fulfilling your users’ needs.
Think about it this way: if your goal is to close a sale, you should put a lot of thought and care into how that user will get from your landing page to searching items or services to putting items in a cart and finally to checking out or confirming an appointment. This means having a clear call to action for new visitors.
Once a user is on your landing page, it’s important not to leave them searching around a confusing website until they lose interest. Web consumers’ attention spans are short, and if your website is confusing or they don’t have a clear next step, they’ll just move on to the next site. If you’ve got their attention, show them a clear way forward. That’s what leads to conversions. While we’re here, it’s important to say that this doesn’t necessarily mean putting services and prices at the top of your website. Instead, show them your amazing product and educate them about why yours is the one they need, then give them a clear path to the service or product price.
If this all seems confusing, that’s because it is. But don’t fret, there are a few things you can do to educate yourself on these subjects so you can begin to optimize your website for conversions.
What can you do about it?
1. Educate Yourself on Website Content
Okay, so you may not know how to develop a website, but writing the content is a much simpler undertaking. It’s still important to keep in mind content writing isn’t just about the words you put down on paper. The best content writers rely on an understanding of the psychology behind digital behaviors, so do a little reading on that subject first. Once you’ve got a handle on how website visitors interact with content, create a plan for your writing that includes the more technical aspects such as tone of voice, sentence structure, length of paragraphs, transitions to other sections, search engine optimization (SEO) & keyword placement, and calls-to-action. Still not sure where to start? Here are a few resources we’ve learned from:
- Nicely Said: Writing for the Web with Style and Purpose by Nicole Fenton
- So You Think You Can Write?: The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing by Julia McCoy
- The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right by Meghan Casey
2. Research, Compile, and Test Possible User Flows
Spend time determining typical entry points whether SEO or AdWords advertising, or some other entry point. After, you’ll need to compile all possible user journeys and create sample stacked user flows. Then test, test, and test again. Which step in the flow does a good job taking users to the next step? In which step do a large part of the users drop out? You can measure this by using goal funnels. If you use Google Analytics, you can easily set up goal funnel tracking (as you can in most web analytics tools) for your user flow steps.
3. Research Your Clientele
Get an outside perspective by conducting client surveys. It’s recommended by professionals to spend time compiling a list of questions to ask your 20 or so last customers whose buying experience is fresh. Gather data, mull over it, and then survey again for a second round based on those answers to really optimize your survey.
These few steps should start you down the right path to creating a website content strategy that is sure to elevate your business above your competitors. It’s a lengthy process, but trust us, it’s worth it. Don’t have all the time in the world? You could just keep dedicating your time to what you love and leave all this nonsense to us. 😉
The bottom line is, content can make or break your business’s legitimacy, desirability, and searchability. Prioritizing your website content and developing good user flows will add the most value to your business and definitely increase your conversions, which we all know leads to a happy business owner.