Keyword research, on-page optimisation, social media marketing and paid-for advertising via AdWords, etc. are all important if you want to build an audience of relevant traffic to your business website, but these activities shouldn’t take all of your focus and attention when you are developing your online presence. Yes, you need people to come to your website in the first place, but in order to convert them into customers, you need to ensure that their journey and experience on your website is as positive and relevant as possible. There are lots of things that can help to improve customer experience on a website, but here’s a list of ten to get you started.
Regardless of the industry that you are in, it’s worth considering opting for a ‘crisp and clean’ contemporary theme for your website. Lots and lots of clashing images, pop-ups, design features and bright colours can date a website relatively quickly, or can make it difficult to locate (and read!) the all-important content on the page and call to action.
When it comes to Digital Marketing, 300-500 words on a page is widely believed to be the ‘optimum’ level for Search Engine Optimisation.[i] From a user experience perspective too, this amount of content is a good level to aim for as it provides enough detail about a product or service to give the potential customer a reasonable understanding of what is on offer (as long as those 300-500 words are coherent!).
When it comes to navigating a site, there is an unofficial website navigation rule called ‘The Three Click Rule’ that suggests that users should be able to find any information on a website in no more than three mouse clicks[ii], and although this is a widely debated topic, I still believe that this is genuinely good practice! However if 3 clicks aren’t possible then ensuring the process is clear and structured will help. In my experience, people don’t want to hunt around for a product or information – it may keep them on the website for longer, but it is likely to frustrate them. It’s always best not to annoy potential customers, especially before they’ve had a chance to buy!
Occasionally, people feel the need to celebrate their unique quirkiness by adopting enigmatic page titles in the menu. ‘The Pathway to our vision’ for example, though imaginative and creative, perhaps isn’t as useful to the majority of your website visitors as a clear and straightforward ‘About us’ menu option.
If your logo and existing marketing materials are already in a specific colour scheme, try and carry this through into your website too (unless you intend to have a massive branding overhaul based on your new website). This will help ensure that people who have come across your business before – whether in real life or on social media, etc. – will find it easy to link that experience with your online presence and be more likely recognise you and your business.
When it comes to images on your website, real photos of real people and real products are the ideal choice, as these can help to convey the personal face(s) behind your logo to potential customers. However, if your photos are ‘smart phone specials’, out of focus or poorly lit, good quality stock photos may be preferable. If you can afford to have some professional photos taken for your website though, you won’t regret the investment; just make sure that you reduce the size of the images before putting them on your website, as enormous high resolution image files can slow down your page load speed and therefore have a negative impact on the on-site customer experience.
There are probably a number of other businesses out there offering the products and services that you do, so what makes you different? What do you offer that no-one else does, and why should a customer choose you over a competitor? Answer these questions on your website, ideally ‘above the fold’ (at the top of a page, so people don’t have to scroll down to read the information) on one of your key pages, so that these ideas are clearly conveyed to your audience.
Want a customer to get in touch with you so you can arrange a telephone call or in-person appointment? Make sure ‘Get in touch’ buttons are integrated into every page on the site, or that a sign up form is clearly accessible from the main menu. Want a customer to ‘Buy Now!’? Make sure they can as quickly and simply as possible. Want to tempt a customer in with a great quality freebie or low-cost item (i.e. an E-Book or Webinar, or a free physical product to trial)? ‘Download now’, ‘Get your free copy’ or ‘Don’t miss out on this Special Offer’ could be more appropriate calls to action.
Sometimes, a customer just wants to talk things through with a real person before making an investment, so make sure that you give them the opportunity to do that! Whether you have a ‘Contact Us’ form on your website, a live chat feature, a clear contact telephone number and/or email address, or a link to Social Media pages where they can ask you a question via direct message, it’s great to give website visitors a variety of options so that they can pick one that they are most comfortable with.
If people have found your business online, rather than having been introduced by a mutual acquaintance, you need to show them how great you are! Even if they don’t know the person who has left a customer testimonial for you, it is reassuring to hear from a third party that you have proven, successful experience providing your products/services to other people. As a result, it’s important to ensure that a testimonials/case study page is a firm fixture in your website – it may seem a little awkward to ‘blow your own trumpet’, but it really helps to build feelings of trust with a potential customer before they purchase from you.
When it comes to customer experience on your business website, you shouldn’t rest on your laurels once you’ve got a completed website up and running. Monitor engagement on your web-pages using a tool like Google Analytics, and consider trialling a new ‘Call to Action’ or product image if you’ve got a page that doesn’t seem to be working as efficiently as you would like. Creating a highly converting website calls for constant testing and improving, but the top tips above are a good place to start!