UX design should be a key component of every brand’s marketing strategy. Google is constantly introducing new UX signals like page experience as ranking factors, but don’t wait for Google to twist your arm. A quality user experience is one of the biggest influences on whether visitors engage with your website and do business with you. Too many companies underestimate the importance of UX, but this only increases the potential rewards if you can get it right.
User experience (UX) design aims to create satisfying, valuable experiences for target audiences. A quality UX strategy analyses the needs and expectations of intended users to inform visual and functional design choices.
Generally speaking, successful UX design delivers an experience that helps users achieve something of value, in a satisfying way that encourages them to keep using or visiting the website/app in question.
When you bring marketing into the mix, UX design bridges the needs and expectations of the user with the business goals of the company. So, instead of trying to give users everything they want, you prioritise the goals of the business in design choices.
User satisfaction and perceived value are still crucial, but you’ll often make calculated decisions that put business goals first. For example, you might add a field to a form because you need to capture certain data, even though it adds to the workload of completing the form.
Likewise, you might strategically add friction to parts of the experience to increase incentive, engagement, repeat purchases and other objectives. From a marketing perspective, UX design is a balancing act between the needs of the business and the user. As such, you should base all decisions on data analysis and experimentation (including conversion rate optimisation).
There’s no simple way to define a good user experience. This is partly due to UX quality being subjective to every user but also because the parameters vary, depending on the type of platform you’re optimising, its purpose and the target audience.
The ideal UX for a particular eCommerce website is wildly different to an online learning resource or a mobile app. What really matters is that you know your goals, who your target audience is and what you need to measure while designing and optimising experiences.
That being said, there are several key factors that always crop up when creating quality user experiences:
Information architecture is the structural design of information – pages, content, labels, etc. – and navigation is the pathway that connects them all. Mastering these two principles is vital to getting your brand story across and creating sales funnels for users to navigate.
Loading times might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about website performance – and for good reason. After all, users can’t interact with a page that fails to load or takes so long that they’d rather click back to Google or wherever they came from.
The latest insights from Google reveal that bounce probability increases by 32% between the first and third second of load time. That jumps up to a 90% increase when loading times stretch to five seconds, though.
Make no mistake, loading times are one of the most important factors in UX. Quite simply, there is no user experience if your pages fail to load in time and things are getting off to a bad start, even if users stick around and wait.
Loading times aren’t the only speed metric that matters in UX, though. In 2021, Google launched Core Web Vitals to incorporate three new signals into its ranking algorithm. This included a new measurement for loading times and an entirely new metric for measuring the response times of interactive elements like buttons, toggle switches, etc.
UX designers shouldn’t need Google to tell them loading times aren’t the only aspect of website performance that matters. However, far too many businesses only start paying attention when Google starts hitting them with ranking factors.
User interface (UI) design is the visual and functional design of elements people use to interact with a website or application. This includes buttons, icons, navigational elements, advanced search options and anything else users click or touch.
Quality UI design should visually communicate functionality so users can intuitively understand the action each element performs. Interface design should also help users navigate the page in front of them with intuitive layouts, colours, contrast and other visual cues.
Content doesn’t always get enough attention in UX discussions, despite often being the most important aspect. This is especially true for websites where content is everything and the wider user experience is essentially content delivery/presentation.
Ultimately, it’s content that keeps users on the page, motivates them to click through to the next one and decides whether they’ll convert. The fastest loading times mean nothing if your content fails to capture attention and incentivise action.
Accessibility is another aspect of UX that doesn’t always get enough attention, but there are no excuses for this. While you could debate whether content is a core aspect of UX design or an external one that overlaps with it, there’s no doubt when it comes to accessibility.
Accessibility is UX and companies need to realise that inclusive design benefits everyone, not the minority.
In most cases, engagement metrics are the strongest indicator of a positive experience. For a website, you’ll normally see this in metrics like avg. time on page, session duration, pages per session, etc.
Google Analytics 4 also introduces a new range of engagement metrics to help us build a clearer picture of how users are interacting with websites and web apps. Make sure you have GA4 set up properly to make the most of these new metrics.
When it comes down to it, business performance is measured in conversions, purchases and other revenue-oriented actions. As important as engagement is, it counts for little if user interactions don’t translate into goal completions.
UX design draws the gap between the needs and expectations of your target audience and your business goals. When visitors land on your website, they’re generally not ready to open their wallets at the first opportunity. They may not even be ready to buy yet or realise they’re in the market for anything at all.
In those first few moments, users are making all kinds of decisions about your brand. Consciously or not, they’re deciding whether you’re trustworthy, if you have what they’re looking for (information, advice, products, etc.) and, ultimately, whether it’s worth sticking around and exploring.
User experience and content are, by far, the two biggest factors in these decisions – especially early on when first impressions can make or break the session.
Fail these early tests and you’re kissing goodbye to valuable leads forever. In a study carried out by Storyblok, 60% of consumers abandon purchases due to poor UX. Previous insights from eConsultancy found that 88% of visitors are unlikely to return to a website after a bad first experience.
In essence, the user experience is the brand experience and everything users encounter during these sessions defines their relationship with you. And, as important as first impressions are, the user experience covers the whole customer cycle.
In a survey conducted by RetailDrive, 73% of consumers said they would abandon a brand altogether after three or fewer negative experiences – even if they’ve had a good relationship in the past.
Every year, your industry becomes more competitive as new rivals launch. Consumers owe you nothing, and they constantly have more options to choose from – so you have to continue earning their custom with positive experiences.
Web designers and developers have come up with thousands of ways to annoy users over the years, but here are some frustrations that really stand out, even today:
That gives you an idea of some of the things users hate the most and it’s disappointing that so many of these issues remain in 2024. Earlier, we explained that many businesses only take action when Google threatens their search rankings. This is precisely why it has introduced so many UX ranking factors over the years: mobile-friendliness, page speed, Core Web Vitals, page experience, etc.
If poor UX is forcing leads to bounce right back to Google, you’re never going to achieve the kind of marketing ROI you could. It’s worth running regular UX reviews to identify potential issues that cause visitors – and conversions – to slip away.
To find out how a UX review could improve your website, call our team today on 023 9283 0281 send us your details and we’ll be in touch.
Rick is Head of Creative at Vertical Leap.
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Categories: CRO, Design