User Experience Do’s for Small Businesses [Checklist]
What is user experience and why is it so important?
User Experience (UX) is all about understanding how users interact with a website, application or any other product and finding a way to make this interaction more enjoyable in order to reach the business specific goal of making users convert.
Think of it as customer service. Perfect customer service gives customers the feeling that they are really cared about, which helps turn them into happy loyal clients. Providing perfect UX to users is pretty much the same – if brands succeed in ensuring seamless and enjoyable UX, they are more likely to not only increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, but also gain a competitive edge.
UX originated in the late 1990s and has since become a strategy followed by many businesses trying to leverage their competition. While well-established businesses already have a leg up on strong brand awareness and customer loyalty, developing a unique UX is something that can revolutionize these businesses.
As for small businesses, UX design can be a magic strategy that helps businesses build brand awareness and customer loyalty while helping these brands stand out from the crowd. Users are getting more picky, day after day. They want simple and intuitive UX and, if they fail to find it on your website, they will find it on your competitor’s.
Perfect UX is a blend of science and art which makes building it more difficult. Often times, businesses fail to keep the fine line between a website with engaging UX and a website with UX that leaves users confused.
According to the research conducted in Canada, people have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. So, website owners have approximately 6-8 seconds to prove to their visitors that their resources are worth using. That’s not very much time at all.
The ability of a website to capture visitors’ attention, especially in such a short period of time, strongly relies on a great UX design. A good UX design is a visually appealing website that works smoothly and effectively while helping users complete their actions without any issues.
Perfect UX is the result of close attention to a number of important details that help businesses see the bigger picture.
Crucial Elements to Improve in Your UX Design
#1 Load Speed
Imagine: a user searches for relevant services or products on Google, finds your website, clicks on it and…waits at least 10 seconds until your website is fully loaded. If this happens, their first impression already spoiled. According to statistics, 40% of users will not wait for longer than 3 seconds to see what you actually offer.
#2 Browser Compatibility
In most cases, users have their own web browser preferences. If your website doesn’t perform equally well in all versions of the most common browsers, you could be frustrating your visitors. Great UX means that your website doesn’t require your visitors to switch to another browser or update to a certain version to complete whatever action brought them to your site.
There is more than a 50% possibility that your website visitors are using their mobile devices to access your website. The number of mobile devices is growing day after day. That’s why another crucial thing to take care of is to make sure your website can be viewed on different screens – desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile, smart-watch, etc.
#4 Color Scheme
Colors have a great effect on how websites look and feel and what messages they deliver. While the general recommendation is to stick to three primary colors, it is not a fixed rule. If your designers can manage to organically combine more than three colors, that’s great. Just make sure that your website colors evoke the right emotions.
#5 Personalized Features
Depending on what you offer, who your targeted audience is and what locations you cater to, adding personalized features such as country, language, currency, tax fees and so on can be not just a savvy move, but a necessary one.
#6 Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy allows users to set priorities that align with your plans and expectations. Visual items, menus, content, CTAs, contacts and other elements placed at the top of a page appear to your users as the most important. So, make sure these items are relevant to your business.
First things first, there should be a distinct contrast between your content and the background to ensure your content is visible on the page. Moreover, your content has to be easy to scan and contain enough white space to avoid cluttering. Too much information without sufficient white space can make your users feel confused and overwhelmed. This might discourage them from proceeding down the page.
#8 Search Bar
If your website contains lots of pages, a search bar is a must. The search bar has to appear big and wide enough so that users see where it is and what they’ve typed in. Make sure users can search for what they need no matter where they currently are on the website.
Navigation must be obvious, understandable, ever-present and consistent across all the pages of the website. To ensure better user experience, avoid such thing as A-Zs. If a user knows exactly what he or she is looking for, a search bar is there to help them. Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense to have one.
Your users have to easily recover from errors, no matter what they are: broken links, incorrect passwords, missing fields or any other sort of inadequates. To keep your users engaged, design custom 404 and 500 error pages, enable going back to undo unintended actions, have the system send clear error messages if users provide incorrect information, etc.
Keep your forms simple and as short as possible. If your competitors only require, for example, the user’s Name, Email and Phone, no one will bother to fill out 10 fields on your website no matter whether or not you need this information for your marketing purposes. The simpler, the better. Also, successful submission should be confirmed with a message or separate confirmation page.
All actionable components such as buttons and icons should be placed on website pages in order to provide functionality, not just because they look cool. If an icon is there, it should be there for a reason. If something on a website is clickable (or tappable), this should be obvious and look actionable. Users don’t like surprises when something is not working the way it is expected to.
#13 SSL Certificate
If your website contains sensitive information, using an SSL certificate is non negotiable. Even if your website doesn’t send or contain any sensitive information, you should still opt for it. Users quickly recognize whether or not a website is secure and this contributes to a more pleasurable experience.
Last, but not least #14 Use of Best Practices
UX design has been around for awhile now. Designers and engineers have been working for years to find the key to developing an engaging and enjoyable UX design so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Sure, trying to look cool and smart is OK, but only if your UX design serves its main purpose and doesn’t create unnecessary friction. Take advantage of best UX practices first and take your time to test your new UX ideas.
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