What Is User Experience? Why Does It Matter?

My last article was about how frustrating FoodLion.com is to use. It actually kept me from giving them money. Usability is clearly important. But not all of us have websites that offer as much as FoodLion.com. So, for us little guys, why is user experience important?

What Even Is User Experience?

Let’s break it down from the name. It’s the experience you are giving users when they visit your website. In the same way that the user experience for Wal-Mart is a walk through a set of automatic doors and someone saying hello once you get inside. User experience on your website is your first impression with customers and sets the tone for the entire relationship.

While customers in person may walk in, have a conversation with you, and buy a product, customers online might visit your website, look at your available products, then find your location. Let’s imagine that you’re thinking of the best way to make a good impression with customers in person. Ideally, finding what they want should be easy. Next, you want to be welcoming and friendly. Then, you need to be able to communicate with the customer in a way that they can understand to make the sale. After that,  the checkout process should be as quick and easy as possible.

Now, let’s imagine that your parking lot is full and the customer has a hard time getting in. After that, an employee doesn’t acknowledge them when they walk through the door. Even worse, they don’t know enough about the product to answer the customer’s questions. Finally, when they decide to buy, the credit card machine is acting up and they have to sit and write a check.

A crowded parking lot

Put the quality of the product aside. How do you think the customer would feel about this interaction with your business? Not great, right? Any one of these things is enough to make most business owners cringe.

Well, that’s obvious. No one wants customers frustrated with them or unable to get what they need. But what does this have to do with my website?

Your website acts as just as much of an entrance for your business as the storefront. Often, customers find your website through search, like driving around, and want to take a look. And, if you want to make the sale, you don’t want them frustrated or unable to find what they need. Even more is on the line because your website is the deciding factor to even walk through your doors. Unlike in person, where your closest competitor may be twenty miles down the road, your closest competitor online is twenty millimeters below you in the search results.

Customers are making actionable decisions within seconds online. If their first interaction with you is less than ideal, you may not get a second chance.

It’s Just A Website. How Hard Can It Be To Get It Right?

Well, I’m glad you asked! Users coming to your website come with expectations set by using other websites.  The same way that customers may expect price labels on everything and the register by the exit, failing to meet those expectations can leave them confused and slow down the experience. Especially if they’re accustomed to a useful feature and it isn’t on your website.

Here are a few examples:

 

No Mobile Version

 

Study by hitwise on mobile traffic
Source: Hitwise

Out of everything you can forget, this may be the worst. A recent study by Hitwise reports that more than 50% of search traffic is coming from mobile users. That means that the majority of your customers are looking for you on their phones. If your website does not accommodate their phone, that first impression is going to be off to a rocky start. So much that I don’t even consider a mobile version to be negotiable with my clients. In 2018, a mobile version is a must-have.

 

No Clear Direction

The Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce page is a cluttered disaster
Source: Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce

When a customer gets to your website, what do you want them to do? You should have one or two actions picked out and put front and center. Any more and the user is left without a sense of direction and the screen becomes cluttered. The larger amount of options also decreases the likelihood of the user picking a specific one. Your odds go from 1 in 2 to 1 in 10.

Keep in mind: this is your first impression. When you meet a new customer for the first time, do you bombard them with, “take a look at our pets section, food, pool supplies, get free delivery, and ask about our free installation today!” Of course not. Treat your website the same way.

 

Failing To Provide Links

Little River House of Pizza 2 isn't using any links
Source: Little River House of Pizza 2

Let’s say that you have a potential customer looking at your website on their phone. They’re ready to call you but to do that they have to memorize your phone number on your site, dial it, make sure they got it right, then call you. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if they could press a button and immediately call you from your website?

They can.

It’s the same for giving directions, finding you on Facebook, and leaving a review. Instead of looking for your Facebook page, or typing your address into their GPS app, you can give it to them in one click. This encourages them to actually do these things since they’re so easy.

 

This article only scratches the surface for user experience online. If you’re looking for more depth, check back for future articles. Or, get in touch for a user experience consultation. I would love to help you get those customers through the door a little more smoothly.

 

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