Article at a Glance:
- In the era of the digital-first consumer, optimizing the visitor experience on your website matters more than ever. It’s about linking website structure to your overall business objectives while meeting the demands of the customer and facilitating a seamless customer journey.
- Not only do you have to understand the underlying needs of potential users in their own environments, but you also have to think beyond the website to consider where its different pages and functions fall within the overall customer journey.
- Whether you’re building a new site or considering a redesign, here’s what to consider as you address your visitor experience design.
Rapid digital transformation was the theme for countless businesses last year in the wake of the shift to widespread remote work. Organizations were forced to transfer their previously in-person services online or accomodate a sudden influx of traffic to their existing digital systems with little or no time to prepare the infrastructure. Many were, in essence, building the plane as they were flying. But now that the country is settling into the new normal, organizations are in a position to deeply assess the effectiveness of their digitally transformed online experiences.
Companies that had invested in customer experience pre-pandemic flourished in the second half of 2020.
According to the Adobe 2021 Digital Trends Report, companies that had invested in customer experience pre-pandemic flourished in the second half of 2020. That’s because they already had systems in place to monitor consumer behavior and quickly adapt to changing demands regardless of how quickly those changes arose. According to Adobe, “Now that many companies have treasure troves of data, the difference is how fast they can personalise the experience and respond to consumer behavior.”
In the era of the digital-first consumer, optimizing the visitor experience on your website matters more than ever. Your website is where customers get the information to make their decisions, and therefore every touchpoint throughout their online journey must be thought through from start-to-finish. Whether you’re building a new site or considering a redesign, here’s what to consider as you address your visitor experience design.
Visitor Experience Starts with Linking Customer Motivations to Business Objectives
Optimizing visitor experience on your website is more than simply following UX/UI best practices. It’s about linking the website structure to your overall business objectives while meeting the demands of the customer and facilitating a seamless customer journey. Data from McKinsey’s Design Index reveal that more than 40 percent of companies aren’t talking to their end users during development and 51 percent have no objective way to assess or set targets for the output of their design teams. This is not only a missed opportunity but a fundamental and potentially fatal business mistake.
When you think about the qualitative KPIs of a website — bounce rate, time on page, session duration, sessions per user, pages consumed, etc.— remember that they’re the operational metrics for the broader business goals: awareness, engagement, conversion, retention, and so forth. Start with the goal and then map out how you will guide users to strategically predetermined destinations on your site in a way that feels effortlessly intuitive to the visitor. You do this by, in McKinsey’s terms, “observing and—more importantly—understanding the underlying needs of potential users in their own environments.”
More than 40% of companies aren’t talking to their end users during development, and 51% have no objective way to assess or set targets for the output of their design teams.
For example, to guide a user to fill out a form on a landing page (for which the business conversion objective is lead generation through email capture), you must anticipate the motives behind the user’s visit to the web page. What’s in it for them? Is the information they are looking for clearly identifiable on the page? Can they quickly understand the steps needed to extract the information they want? You must consider their devices. Are they on mobile? Will they be able to complete the action with a few scrolls and clicks of the thumb? Is the page laid out in such a way that the content is visible in a low-light setting? Are they on the go? Multitasking? Working from home? How can we get them to perform the action quickly with little disruption to their day? And after they fill out the form, how do we keep them engaged? How do we delight them so they will later associate our brand with a positive experience, even from such a minute interaction? Addressing these customer-centric questions in your design will help you marry actions to objectives for a mutually beneficial experience.
Your “Website” Should be Bigger than Your Website
Next, you have to think beyond the website to consider where its different pages and functions fall within the overall customer journey — not just the journey that exists on the platform itself. Customers will come to your website at different stages of the buying process. For example, for a tourism-based website, customers will visit when they’re just browsing destination options, when they’re booking their stay, when they’re planning what to do during their stay, while they’re at the location, after they leave, and when they’re considering coming back to the location. How does your website cater to each of those stages?
When you create your customer journey map, think about every possible existing and future action your customer will want or need to take. Econsultancy reminds us, “Every new digital technology and channel creates new customer touchpoints. With new touchpoints come new expectations and customer behaviours.”
In this increasingly digital world, your website visitor experience is your customer experience, as many interactions with brands are happening solely online. In fact, ecommerce sites saw a 44 percent increase in online transactions in 2020 after the start of pandemic shutdowns. And 94 percent of US consumers ages 18 and older are very likely to make more purchases from companies across all industries that provided “very good” customer experience, according to eMarketer. Investing in your visitor experience is a pivotal step toward business prosperity in the digital-first world of work.
How to Deliver a Winning Experience
Start with Universal Principles.
Before diving into a complex UX/UI design based on the latest best practices and design trends, ground your website in universal design usability theories. Keep it simple by starting with a research-backed checklist for user design, such as the 1998 The Seven Principles of Universal Design from the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University:
Equitable Use – The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
Flexibility in Use – The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
Simple and Intuitive Use – Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
Perceptible Information – The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
Tolerance for Error – The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
Low Physical Effort – The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
Size and Space for Approach and Use – Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use.
Listen and Observe.
See every page of your website as a prototype for testing. Regardless of how your design starts, use the KPIs to assess how effective your initial design decisions have been in moving visitors toward on-page goals. Track how users engage with your site using heat maps, eye trackers, satisfaction ratings, usability assessments, as well as requesting qualitative feedback from customers and focus groups. Continuously deepen your understanding of customer demands, motivations, and behavior.
Implement Fluid Design
Be prepared to update design frequently. Assign both human and digital resources to be able to move quickly to implement new design strategies ath emerge from your data trends. Borrow from agile development and work in scrum teams to build and test web pages in frequent iterations. Never assume that a design is one-and-done.
Need help elevating your visitor experience? Get in touch here.