Navigation and User Experience: Don’t be Annoying. Does Your Website Pass the Test?
Most people think that visual design is the most crucial element of a website, but that is not the whole story. What you don’t know can hurt you.
When visitors arrive on your website, there are four key levels of communication that influence how they think of your company:
- what they see
- what they read
- what they experience
- what they do.
Focusing on one level while failing to nurture the others alienates your prospects and prompts them to leave your website in just a matter of seconds.
Your site’s visual design may be the face of your company, but there’s more to a good website after you appeal to the eyes.
Navigation and user experience (UX for short) powers your website to influence customers and take another step towards doing business with you. These elements focus on how people react to your site–how they click through and what they do next.
To drive sales, you need an experience for your website visitors that seamlessly guides them through the Buyer’s Journey. UX provides the emotional reasons to choose your company over the competition by anticipating people’s needs and personalizing their experience through content and design.
When it comes to UX design, professional web designers know this quote to be true, “It doesn’t matter how good your website is if users can’t find their way around it.” UX design should be simple, predictable, and unobtrusive, because too many options will destroy your ability to guide and serve your visitors. Give potential customers access to the information they want and need in the easiest way possible. When you keep navigation and user experience simple, you effectively reduce friction points and improve your website’s overall performance.
If you are not convinced on the value of UX design yet, here are statistics you should consider:
-88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.
-By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
-9 out of 10 consumers say access to content however they want is somewhat or very important, and 59% say it’s very important
-84% of companies expect to increase their focus on customer experience measurements and metrics.
As competition ramps up, you need to provide an excellent user experience to positively impress prospects and customers. If not, you risk losing your edge in the market. UX may seem technical, but don’t let the jargon scare you off. We can summarize it in one short phrase: Don’t be annoying.
Check out these six ways to avoid ticking off your prospects:
- Put navigation at the top or left side of every page. Providing a navigation menu is the simplest way to help users navigate your website. However, people expect UX elements to be where they’ve seen them before. Don’t let them struggle with menus that are hard to find, confusing, or lack visual emphasis. Your objective is to get them the information they need quickly and easily, and not to tick them off with hidden navigation.
- Use descriptive navigation when possible. Using generic labels does not help with communication and only creates more confusion instead of clarity. Instead of “Services” use “Engineering Services”; instead of “Products” say “Safety Products”. The descriptive names give your visitors an idea of what information is available to them inside a navigation item. Stick to terms that clearly describe your content and are easily understood to keep their interest in what you have to offer. (It’s also good for SEO.)
- Avoid dropdown menus whenever possible. And we aren’t the only one who thinks they add unnecessary complexity to the user experience. According to usability studies, drop-downs annoy customers. Because they are a point of friction in customers’ minds, they can hurt your business by encouraging people to skip some of your most important content and pages. Instead of a dropdown menu, you can integrate scrolling panels or sticky menus into your design for more pleasant navigation.
- Limit your menu items to fewer than eight. Whether in content or design, too much is clutter. A long list in your navigation dilutes the importance of each option and makes the user experience more cumbersome. To create a smooth user experience, try limiting menu items to fewer than eighth. This can help increase your visitors’ average time spent on site and reduce bounce rates.
- Use design elements throughout your home page to make additional navigation options visually available. Employing design elements such white space and color grades can add visual weight to your navigation. Just keep in mind, your visitors shouldn’t spend too much time figuring out how to move from one content to another and which options to click. You must anticipate the users’ needs and design a web structure that guides them each step of the way.
- Add a Call-to-Action. Clearly explain what the next step is, but beware it is NOT always “Request a quote”. What does your buyer need to know in order to buy from you? That is what you should offer: guides, graphics, how-to videos, spec sheets, checklists, references, case studies. Offer to give them information that will help them make a good choice.
When you start viewing your website through the lens of human needs, you will realize just how important UX is in truly serving your audience. UX design is important in that it fulfills the user’s needs and provides the emotional reasons that tie people to your product or company. The better the user experience, the happier your visitors, and the more they are likely to do business with you!
Want to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals for your website?
1) (2012) EConsultancy – Site speed: case studies, tips and tools for improving your conversion rate. http://ow.ly/vVST308MWtg
2) (2014). Customers 2020. The Future of B2B Customer Experience. http://ow.ly/jl1U308MWwx
3) (2014). Salesforce. 2014 Mobile Behavior Report. http://ow.ly/hQbm308MWDW