One of the first lessons that I learned as a young internet marketer was that 9 times out of 10, your customers do not want to be using your website. They would rather be on the beach, or at the pub, or watching the football. But they’re using your site because they think it has some information that they need.
With that in mind, the best user experience is the simplest and most intuitive experience. By optimising your website and making its design more intuitive, you will improve the experience of your customers. They will respond by spending more time on your site, building a better relationship with you, and ultimately purchasing more of your products and services.
First Impressions Count
As with everything else in life, your first impression typically matter more than the rest of the relationship taken together. The two impressions that you want to immediately convey to your customers is that you are reputable and professional, and that they will be able to quickly and painlessly find the information that they are looking for. The ways to convey this are through an intelligently designed site layout, and through an intuitive navigation system, respectively.
Site Layout Conveys Professionalism
Site layout refers to the physical appearance of your website. Where are different pieces of the site located, how do you use colours and fonts, and what is your use of images like. As a general rule, avoid anything that is not strictly necessary. Too many colours or fonts makes your website looks less like the public face of a professional business, and more like a yard sale flyer.
Think about the most successful websites, like Google, Facebook, or Wikipedia. In all cases, they just use two or three main colours, and keep the site clean and easy to read.
In no case, should you ever use music or animation on your site. This is a business website, not a teenager’s blog from the 1990’s.
Intuitive Navigation Gets Your Customers Where They Want to Go
Imaging a supermarket which could instantly transport you to whatever you wanted to buy as soon as you walked in the door. Chances are, you would do quite a lot of your shopping at that supermarket. Make you website do the same.
Label all the different sections of your website, and list them in tabs along the top or the left-hand site of the site. If your customers can spend less time on your site while still finding all the information that they need, then you’ve done your job properly.