What is user experience?
User experience is the overall experience of a person using a product, such as a website. It focuses on having a deep understanding of your users – what they need, what they value, their abilities and their limitations. It also takes into account your business goals and objectives. It should meet your business needs as well as your audience needs. A win-win scenario for both you and them.
Why is this important?
Ultimately, you want people to perceive your service as useful and valuable. Every action and process, both online and offline, may impact how customers see you and how they’ll talk about you (their experience).
When it comes to the digital side of your business, this means you need to communicate well, so that users understand your service and value as quickly as possible. Enable customers to understand you, while you take action to understand them – or someone else will.
How to achieve this
There are some basic things to consider when building the digital side of your business.
Minimise effort for users
Most people dive in and try to find their way around your website on instinct. Be clear, keeping language plain and concise, and make sure the most important information is front and centre on the page. Make actions (buttons) on your website very clear and distinct – for example the ‘book now’ button. Avoid fatigue by ensuring you don’t have unnecessarily lengthy processes, and don’t request more information than needed.
Make users feel safe to browse
Users will feel more encouraged to browse information online if they can clearly understand how to go back to where they started. They will also feel more encouraged to browse if they don’t feel pushed or manipulated into doing something on your website. Where possible, give users a sense of workflow – reassure users of what is currently happening as they browse, what is ahead, and different actions they can take. Set things in place to prevent users from making too many mistakes. Share good and timely information, and provide the ability to go back and edit things, for example, when users are completing an online form.
Reward positive actions – reassure users when they’ve accomplished what they wanted to do and acknowledge that the process they started is successful. For example:
Use a very visible “thank you” message after users submit a form.
Provide clear information to users on what will happen next, such as details on when they’re likely to receive a reply if they’ve contacted you.
Ensure the user feels in control
Users may be just looking or comparing, making their actual decision later. Allow users options to skip for later, save or edit, so they don’t feel pressured or rushed on your website. And keep the option to contact you directly visible, in case they want to ask questions.
Keep navigation on your website simple and consistent
Don’t reinvent the wheel – users use many services every day, not just yours. They will most likely be used to menus, online forms, and buttons working in a certain way. Make your patterns predictable and consistent so that they stay on your website for longer and are more likely to be converted into customers/bookings. Don’t overload users’ memory with endless menus and options – you want your website to be easy to remember and navigate.
Build trust through social proof
We are all more likely to believe what a friend thinks about a certain product than what is written on its label. Provide social proof when available – reviews from previous customers or social media testimonials and referrals are perceived as the most trustworthy.
Streamline repetitive tasks
Wherever a task has to be repeated, for example starting over a failed booking, avoid having the user do the same thing again. Allow autofill on online forms, options to ‘select all’ on lists, and the ability to copy and paste information.
Importance of good imagery
At first glance, images get most of the attention; it’s only afterwards that a user may start reading or paying attention to other elements on your website. Using good imagery is an essential part of a good first impression, and you can learn more in this article about using images online.