By Tom Green
Recall the best shopping experiences you’ve had; where the store environment helped you to feel comfortable, the staff were helpful and friendly, anticipating you’re every need and helping you find what you were looking for.
The likelihood of website visitors doing what you want them to, such as browsing your products or services, or completing a purchase is linked to the quality of their overall user experience (UX).
“The first requirement for an exemplary UX is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother,” according to Nielsen Norman Group.
What do you do when you visit a website which is slow to load, hard to navigate, and visually unappealing? You leave right? Think about how you behave online and how when browsing you are much less tolerant of a poor UX than if you are looking for a specific product or service.
What exactly do users need?
Capturing the browsing market requires a highly attractive UX.
The more a customer needs your product the more they will tolerate relatively inferior UX. The lower their need, the less tolerant they will be, therefore, the worse the UX the smaller the pool of possible target market customers and the better the UX, the larger the target market.
Consumers will stay and browse a website that is a pleasure to experience, not because they need or want something, but because the website functions smoothly.
Some will even buy things they don’t need or want, just because the website presents its products and services in a desirable way.
Great UX is not dissimilar to great instore experiences. For instance, large chains have dedicated radio channels to create a certain mood instore. They think carefully about signage, colours, layout, and even scents that create the desired vibe. They recruit intuitive salespeople that offer detail and guidance, without being obtrusive.
Think about walking past a bakery and smelling freshly baked bread. How delicious does it smell? You’re almost compelled to venture inside and buy some bread. The same can be said for UX – beautiful UX almost compels the visitor to buy the product offering.
Seven reasons why UX is critical to focus on
- More effective marketing spend: To optimise your ROI on marketing spend you need to optimise your UX. This is the most effective way of attracting new customers.
- First impressions count: This doesn’t mean looks are everything. Don’t underestimate your users. They want substance and authenticity, not just superficial features. Websites built with attention to UX design are emotionally engaging, easier to use, and aesthetically pleasing.
- Better brand equity: A website that’s tailored and responsive to the exact needs of your target audience creates the sense that your brand is superior to others in your market. UX design helps to create an experience that feels bespoke and leaves an indelible mark in visitors’ minds.
- Greater customer loyalty: Just as people return to the same hairdresser every month because they feel a bond, people will return to your site repeatedly when they feel engaged by a great user experience.
- More successful web projects: When developing a website you are less likely to waste time or lose sight of your original purpose if you have a well designed user experience strategy. This forces you to think about why a customer is coming to your site, what they are looking for and what their needs are, making your whole project better at achieving this. Visual direction, structure, content, and development guided by customer insights.
- Increased conversion rate: Well crafted UX design presents desirable choices to visitors in ways that are visually engaging and match their goals perfectly, subtly influencing people down the path you want them to follow, which means more conversions.
- Make a broader impression: Great online experiences have a way of gaining attention, even outside your industry or target market. User experience design done well captures people’s imagination and showcases your brand as one that cares about its customers.
A bonus eighth reason to emphasise UX design – The complex algorithms that Google uses to rank websites are designed to find and promote content that is more contextually relevant, which is much more likely when your design and development approaches put user experience at the forefront. Google will continue to strive to deliver the best in user experience sites, making UX design not only a nice to have, but the benchmark you will win or lose against.
This article started with a reflection on great shopping experiences, but it’s probably easier to recall the worst experiences you’ve had – rude sales people, long lines, poorly arranged products, bad lighting and unflattering mirrors.
You probably felt awful and may even have used Facebook to share your frustration with your friends.
Today’s consumer and website visitor understands their own power and will not put up with bad experiences. Make UX design an integral part of your digital strategy to create a website that resonates with your visitors and converts them to customers.
Remember that for everything it costs you to acquire a new customer, once you have them, when you can convert them into a repeat/returning customer through great UX, you can increase your sales at a fraction of the cost of that initial acquisition.
Tom Green is digital strategist at digital marketing agency, GMG Digital, an ARA partner. For more information and advice on UX or all things digital, contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org; phone, 1300 05 85 20; or visit gmgdigital.com.au