Whether you sell goods and services, the goal of your web site should always be to provide a rewarding experience that encourages visitors to explore, act, and return.
This can be a tough balancing act, however. Many times, clients try to do too much and offer too much content, making it difficult for visitors to act or become engaged. An impatient visitor confused by too many choices will often leave. That’s a problem, but it doesn’t stop there.
Too much content also can diminish its appeal among visitors who appreciate a visually engaging web site. With the multitude of choices that visitors have today, it pays to follow these five fundamental and time-tested principles for creating an engaging visitor experience:
Understand What Users Want
Spend time learning who your target users are, what they’re looking for and what they want to do when they arrive. Are they looking for “how-to” content? Are they looking for entertainment, community interaction or to simply make a purchase?
Not every user will want the same thing, but understanding the prevailing desire of your largest group of users will help you find the most success in regards to design aesthetic, element placement, calls-to-action, navigational structures and visual hierarchies.
Don’t Make People Think
TMI – Too much information detracts from website interactions. The more choices offered, the easier it becomes to choose nothing and leave. A clear, visual presentation of content and imagery reduces effort on the user and prompts action instead of confusion.
Word choice is another element. Straightforward, familiar language is often more effective than confusing jargon. For instance, users immediately recognize “Contact Us,” whereas they may be puzzled by a more vague term like “Engage.” Being consistent is also important. Don’t put up roadblocks such as using different navigation bar styles on different pages.
Keep it simple if possible
Some of the world’s best websites are simple. This can often mean utilizing images and using text sparingly to convey ideas and invite actions. The effectiveness of simplicity has driven the minimalist website design strategy that we see so much today.
This becomes even more important in the mobile realm. Responsive Web design that enables a site to adapt automatically to whatever device is accessing it helps ensure a simple, rewarding experience for smartphone and tablet users.
Choose Fonts, Colors and White Space Wisely
Choosing the best fonts, colors and degree of white space has a big impact on site interaction as well. These elements reflect a site’s credibility, usability and mood, so it’s important to tailor them to a given audience.
Keep the variety of fonts to two or three, and be judicious in the use of larger-size fonts and bolding (if everything is bold, then nothing is bold; if everything is big, then nothing is big). Also, when using an unusual type of font, keep in mind that not all devices may be able to display certain fonts correctly. Stick with popular font types.
Using white space helps call attention to key elements, while smart color choices are critical to creating the mood demanded for interaction—bold and daring or thoughtful and subdued, for instance, depending on the audience.
Treat Design as an Ongoing Process
To cultivate the best user experience, ongoing testing and feedback is essential. Track conversions, time on site, page views, single-page bounce rate and more with Google Analytics. These tools along with keeping abreast of design trends are a formula for website success!