Improving User Experience- 5 Key Steps to Optimize Infrastructure, Design and UI
Customer loyalty can significantly differentiate one brand from others. For a digital business, this will mean that you need to create a positive customer experience in order for your brand to have a powerful impact that can elicit loyalty and return visits.
For a digital business, customer experience will ultimately translate to your digital brand. Good UX will keep users coming back, especially if your website is useful and is a pleasure to use. Content-rich, meaningfully-designed sites always provide a good value to your customers, keeping them engaged and returning for more. The inverse is also true: a terrible user experience will leave a bad taste, and customers will shun your site and even your brand.
Here are 5 things that you can keep in mind when building, designing and marketing your site. These will help you to improve the overall user experience, thus ensuring better engagement and positive brand recall.
Improve Site Speed
Site speed matters a lot in ensuring a positive user experience. A typical web user expects a site to load in 2 seconds or less; otherwise, he or she is highly likely to leave.
Here are a few ways that you help you reduce your website loading time:
- Optimize your images as they often count for most of the downloaded bytes on a web page. Eliminate unnecessary images and leverage CSS3 effects wherever possible. Also, minimize SVG files to reduce their size. You can make use of tools like TinyPNG to compress your images in JPEG and PNG formats to the minimum possible size.
- Minimize the number of HTTPS requests by reducing scripts and combining a number of style sheets together.
- Minimize browser caching and optimize the CSS delivery. Further, you can also reduce the number of redirects and plugins that you are having in your site. This will greatly help to reduce load times.
- Image resizing and progressive rendering, code minification and HTTP/S cache optimization are some techniques that can be automated by using a content delivery network (CDN). Overall,
using a CDN can improve your page load speed by 40-50%, which makes it one of the most effective tools you can use for enhancing your website’s performance.
Improve Site Reliability
It is very important that you choose a reliable webhost that does not bog down with load. A good hosting provider and a content delivery network can help to improve the overall reliability of the site.
In a study published by Billy Hoffman for Moz, it was stated that sites with faster backend infrastructure receive a higher rank from Google. Such infrastructure includes web servers, database servers, and the network topography. Some ways you can improve site reliability:
- Use CDN to optimize overall site performance. This will also enable your website to scale quickly, which is particularly useful when there is increased demand from a global audience.
- Optimize your application code. Better coding techniques will yield better performance.
- Optimize database queries by identifying fields that are retrieved from the database but whose values are never used in the code following the query.
Use Mobile-Optimized/Responsive Theme
Responsive web design requires some early stage planning, but the reward is a flexible, beautiful site that works as well on a smartphone as on a desktop and provides a seamless experience to the user. Website builders like MotoCMS offer a variety of ready-to-use, responsive templates that you can easily choose to build your site.
Responsive design is Google’s preferred design. This relies on shuffling elements around the page dynamically and uses the same HTML across all devices thereby providing a usable experience regardless of device and screen size.
Make it Easy to Engage / Navigate
Navigation is one of the essentials of a user-friendly site. Before a site design is finalized, it is important to plan a hierarchy so that all the pages can be accessed easily by both the search engines and a human user. Some of the ways through which you can ease out the navigation:
- Use breadcrumbs. These help in locating the path the user takes into reaching any URL.
- Use contextual links. Wikipedia does a great job when it comes to navigating the user to its inner pages using contextual links. The more links, the lower the bounce rate will be and time spent on the site will increase.
- Use sitemaps. Search engines prefer sitemaps and having both forms of sitemaps, namely sitemap.html and sitemap.xml, are helpful for the user and search engines.
- Use a custom 404 page. Be prepared if the user is lost and reaches a 404 page. A custom 404 page that includes relevant links will help the user to properly navigate to any other working URL of their choice. Sites that don’t have a custom 404 page often lose visitors.
- Think about Personalized Experience (PX). The concept of user experience is gradually changing to PX. Ensure that you have a touch-enabled design and continuously perform A/B tests in order to find out the navigation areas that interest the user the most.
- Think mobile first. Mobile audiences are continuing to surge and in the coming years desktop share will reduce. If your site does not have mobile-friendly navigation, then user experience suffers, resulting in decreased engagement and revenue.
Create Readable Content:Easy to Understand, Easy to Read, Easy to Share
Content has been rightly referred to as the king of web. It is called the currency of the web, and you need to ensure that the content on your site is accessible by search engine bots. Many times, developers use some fancy pieces of code that hide content from web crawlers. This can result in serious damage to the online visibility of the site and the user experience gets hampered.
Here are some tips to make your content easy to access, read and share:
- Always check your site with a text-based browser as this can help you to detect if search engine crawlers are able to see your content accurately or not.
- Upload a valid robots.txt and check it with the help of Google Search Console. This will help to locate any errors in the crawlability of the site.
- Use social sharing buttons, as this can boost up the social visibility and branding of your site.
- Ensure that all the pages on your site can be reached by at least one static link from any other page.
- Make sure that your web server correctly supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header.
Offering a positive user experience is essential to the success of your brand and business. Remember, the first impression is the last impression.
Do you know about any other specific guidelines that one must follow to improve the site design and user experience optimization? Please share with me in the comments below.