Websites hold the power to work as a marketing machine for business, but only if they’re well-designed. The web design practice of building and optimizing sites for user experience, or UX web design, may sound like an advanced technique, but there’s a surprisingly large number of things you can do to improve the user experience for your site visitors. In return, this will help your site get found online, help you generate more leads, and drive more sales.
Still in the beginning phases of building a professional website? Start by getting all the information you need to build your small business website.
1. Know What Your Site Visitors Want
Many businesses assume they know why a visitor is coming to their site, but many still miss the mark on what visitors truly want—or if they do know, many fail to give it to them. Consider who your audience is, how they came across your site (e.g., a search engine, social media, or word of mouth), and at what stage of the buyer decision process they’re likely in. This will help you better identify what your audience is ultimately looking to achieve by visiting your site.
For example, this vacation packages business, High Pointe Equestrian Tours, understands that visitors to its site want to browse available equestrian vacations. Unlike the majority of its competitors, this business gives its visitors a direct and easy way of searching for and finding the vacation package that’s right for them by including a simple vacation search form on its homepage.
2. Make It Easy for Visitors to Find What They’re Looking For
People are visiting your site for a reason, and it’s your job to make it easy for them to find exactly that. It may be to learn more about your business and what you offer, but it also may be to take a certain action, such as to make a purchase, book an appointment, request a consultation, speak with a customer service representative via phone, email, live chat, or any number of other options based on your unique business and its audience.
For example, this website from Premier Dental illustrates how a site can provide visitors with a way to achieve what they came to the site for. In this case, to call the dental practice (using the click-to-call phone number in the header) or to request an appointment. This covers the visitors’ most common goal and serves its audience no matter their preferred method of contact.
3. Make Your Site Mobile-friendly
Ideally, you’ll already be using a responsive, mobile-friendly website theme or template. However, depending on your responsive theme alone will not generally yield an overly friendly user experience on mobile. Be sure to check your site on mobile. Remove any superfluous elements, use a hamburger menu, and enlarge call-to-action (CTA) buttons so that they are easy to click from a mobile device.
For example, this website for a towing company, Towing Miami, does a good job of streamlining its mobile site so that only key information is displayed. This is vital for businesses, such as a towing company, where the majority of site visitors will be on mobile. It also includes a click-to-call CTA, knowing that most users are visiting its site in order to get its number and call for roadside assistance.
4. Keep Web Page Design Consistent
While keeping your design consistent may be more of a user interface (UI) element than UX, it’s a crucial detail that many small businesses overlook when building their own site. This is especially common when using WordPress or the site builder Wix, as both offer a vast amount of customization options, which can quickly lead to design inconsistencies. For example, the layout, the color, the font, and the text size should be the same across all pages.
For example, this is a very simplistic website that effectively maintains its design across all web pages. It achieves this by using the same basic layout, including the banner height and width, padding, as well as the same header fonts and sizes, colors, and button styles on each of its pages. This helps the site (and therefore business) feel more legitimate, but it also leads to an improved user experience.
Interested in learning more about the differences between user interface and user experience web design? Get the complete breakdown on UI vs UX.
5. Lead With Key Information
One area where many websites fail is by taking a standard approach to writing, which traditionally tells us to build up to a story, or to the main point. However, when it comes to web design, every second counts, so rather than building up to your primary message, capture the interest of your audience by leading with it.
For example, the Charleston Heights Veterinary Clinic puts its unique selling point front and center: that the business offers house calls. The clinic understands that people are coming to the site because they have a pet in need of care, and this helps illustrate just how helpful the practice is. Even for those who are happy to come into the office, this reinforces site visitors’ confidence in the vet clinic.
6. Guide Visitors Through Your Site
When designing pages on your website, never leave a visitor hanging at the bottom of a page after they have taken their time to read the whole thing. Instead, be sure to provide them with logical next steps based on the page in question. This may be a link to another webpage, a contact form, a call-to-action button, or anything else that best fits the reader’s intent from that page, and what would logically come next based on the information they would glean from that page.
For example, this webpage from Byte, an Invisalign competitor, includes a call-to-action button to take the first step in the clear braces process at the bottom of its “Why Byte” web page. Since the page is designed to tell a reader why they should choose Byte, it strategically places the CTA button at the bottom in order to make it easy for visitors to go ahead and try the company by giving them a clear, easy way of taking the next logical step.
7. Speak the Language of Your Audience
Without necessarily knowing it, people change their language, tone, and word choice based on who they are speaking to, and your website should do the same in order to build confidence with your audience. This helps match a user’s expectations with a user’s experience. In other words, people visiting a legal website expect the language used on the site will be professional, whereas people visiting a children’s amusement park expect the language to be fun.
For example, a website for a children’s summer camp, such as Camp Chewonki, should use language that incites a feeling of excitement, which it does. If the site had instead used dry, even sterile language, it would be less effective at capturing the interest of parents and children.
8. Be Concise & Direct
In both life and with websites, sometimes the more you say, the less is heard (or in the case of sites, read). Reduce the copy (or text) on your site to a minimum in order to keep it short and sweet. By being more concise, you can more directly—and therefore more effectively—convey your message.
For example, on this website from Marianne Brown Photography, the homepage does a good job of using very little text to share its overarching message. Beyond the business and photographer’s name, all it includes are three words: photography, love, and adventure. This tells site visitors the type of work and services offered, sets the expectations, and helps build the photographer’s brand.
9. Make Your Web Pages Scannable
Naturally, people will be skimming your website looking for the exact information they came to your site for. While each site visitor may have a different purpose for navigating to your site, your information should be laid out so that users can easily scan your site and quickly find what they are looking for. This is especially important for sites that have a large array of service offerings.
For example, this website from Houston Catering Concepts provides a good example of an easy-to-scan webpage in a fun way. This catering business has a lengthy list of menus, which could easily become exhaustive and cluttered on a webpage, but instead, it gives site visitors a way to choose which plate they’re interested in, which then enables them to view their chosen menu.
10. Reduce Clutter
One surefire way to assure your site visitors don’t read the content of your site is by creating a cluttered site design. Instead, use plenty of “white space,” or areas without text or graphics. By including plenty of white space, you’re almost guaranteeing that your site won’t look cluttered. This allows each element (whether copy or graphics) to be padded with plenty of room around it. In return, your messages, graphics, and call-to-action buttons stand out.
In this example, Qwilr, an online proposal creation software, uses white space very liberally. This helps the main message stand out, as well as the auto-play video and the “Try It Free” CTA button. In other words, it sets the stage for the marketing message and video to speak for itself, which helps its message get across more effectively to site visitors.
11. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel With Your Web Design
The concept of information architecture may sound daunting to those new to web design, but it basically means designing your site logically so that information is located where visitors would expect it. While creating a unique web design may be enticing, remember to keep your site’s navigation easy to use. Many businesses fail their visitors by including crafty ways to make a site feel modern but end up hiding web pages and making the site difficult to use.
For example, this online children’s language platform, Novakid, uses a standard website layout, which helps visitors easily find any information they might be looking for. Though it’s a standard layout, this doesn’t mean it’s a boring or traditional web design. Instead, it adds its own unique flair that reinforces its brand voice and helps visitors navigate through the site.
12. Include Your Main CTA in Your Header
When visitors land on your site, they generally direct their focus to the header and your menu options. By nesting your primary call-to-action, or CTA, in your header, you make it easier for visitors to quickly take the action you’re looking for them to ultimately take. Additionally, your header is always displayed no matter which web page a visitor is on, so by putting your CTA there, it also ensures that a visitor can click it from anywhere on your site.
For example, All-Pro Painting includes the CTA “Hire Us” in its header. As a painting business, the overarching goal of the website is to get new clients—or get hired. This actionable header matches the user intent of many of its site visitors and serves them by giving them what they came to the site for.
13. Reduce the Number of Fields for Contact Forms
The fewer required fields in your contact form, the more likely visitors will complete and submit it. The reason being, by requiring more information from visitors, the more of an investment it feels for them. In other words, the investment required needs to match the benefit of the investment. If your contact form is high-value, then you can require a large number of fields, but if it’s, for example, a simple newsletter sign-up, then avoid overloading visitors with form fields.
This contact form from adMind, a digital marketing agency, uses only three form fields for visitors to sign up to speak to a marketing expert. While this offer is common within the marketing agency industry, many other marketing agencies require a large number of fields.
14. Compress Images to Increase Page Speed
Patience is a virtue, but it’s not something most people have for websites that don’t load quickly. Your site’s load time is based on a number of factors, and the availability of storage and bandwidth is one of those—and images are the number one culprit when it comes to using a large amount of storage. An easy way to combat this is by compressing your image sizes so that they do not use as much storage space, helping sites to load faster.
As techie as it may initially sound, compressing images requires no technical expertise. There are many image compressor tools, such as Compressor.io (free), which compress images for you. There are also image compressor plugins for WordPress, such as the ShortPixel Image Optimizer (free).
15. Deactivate Heavy Plugins to Increase Speed
If you’re one of the millions using WordPress for your site, then you probably already know how helpful plugins are. However, not all are created equal, and some plugins take up a lot of storage space, leading to slower site load speeds. It’s common to have active plugins on your site, since many themes often come with them even if you never use them. Analyze your active plugins by navigating to your WordPress dashboard > plugins >installed plugins > and then deactivate any that you’re not using.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you improve user experience on mobile?
First and foremost, use a fully responsive website theme or template. This will greatly assist in creating a mobile-friendly site. Then, eliminate (or hide) any web content that is not completely necessary to reduce any page clutter and to make your main messages stand out on a very small interface. Additionally, ensure any buttons are large enough to easily click, center the content of your site, and use mobile features, such as click-to-call CTA buttons.
What are the best website data & analytics tools?
There are a number of great website data and analytics tools, which enable site owners to capture user insights that can be used to further improve and optimize their site. Some of these tools include: Google Analytics, Freshmarketer, HotJar, Zoho Analytics, HubSpot, and Salesforce. Which is best for you will depend on your website and business needs, so learn more about the best business intelligence tools.
How do I convert leads from my website?
In order to convert more leads on your site, perform conversion rate optimization strategies (CRO). First, collect traffic data, then determine which key performance indicator (KPI) to improve. For example, on a site with low traffic and a high conversion rate, work to increase traffic to proportionally increase conversions. However, a site with a high traffic volume, but a high bounce rate, means users aren’t finding the information they want, and therefore exit the site. Learn more about CRO.
It’s a process to improve a site’s UX, but it’s a worthwhile investment that can turn a basic website into a marketing machine. To start, consider aspects such as your site design, whether or not your site serves its visitors, ways to increase site speed, visibility, and traffic (including search engine optimization (SEO) and paid advertising).
If you’ve tried everything and still feel that your site isn’t working as a marketing tool for your business, it might be time to leave it to the pros. There are a number of affordable services available to help improve your site’s UX, which helps increase its visibility, traffic, and sales. We recommend Hibu, as it’s an affordable marketing agency with a breadth of knowledge and experience in helping small to medium-sized businesses use online marketing for offline success.