Regardless of how wonderful your website is, how much information your site contains or how many landing pages you have, if your website is not designed for an optimal user experience, then people will not spend much time there. As a website and business owner, you don’t want to lose customers because your website was inefficient.
But how do you determine if your website is fully optimized to enhance user experience? The simple answer is, frequent testing. Unfortunately, this testing is not a one and done activity. Rather, it is an ongoing enterprise. According to Website Magazine‘s (February 2013) editor in chief, Peter Prestipino, there are three rules of website optimization:
- Forget all you think you know about what makes an effective Web presence. Rather, make future decisions based on observable and recordable behaviors from analytics.
- Recognize that website optimization testing is a trial and error process; don’t hesitate to understand and challenge the limits of what can be done.
- Commit to frequent testing to ensure that the designed end user experience meets the ever-changing expectations and requirements of the audience.
“Forget all you think you know about what makes an effective Web presence. Rather, make future decisions based on observable and recordable behaviors from analytics.” – Website Magazine‘s editor in chief, Peter Prestipino
Following these rules is an important step in optimizing your website user’s experience. However, there are some specific elements involved in creating an optimum experience for your website guests. Here are some key steps you can take to make your website all your guests expect it to be.
- Caching – Although caching can be helpful in keeping your website afloat when you get a torrent of traffic, it also is known for slowing down page load time.
- Images – The bigger these are, the longer load time involved. It is recommended that you keep each page under 1mb total.
- Speed – We live in an “I want it now” society, and expect our Web experiences to be the same. So, if your website is loading slowly, there are a variety of changes, in addition to caching and image size, that you can make. These include choosing a reliable web host that can handle your website configuration, using a content delivery network to deliver content to users more efficiently, minimizing redirects and “mini-fying” coding such as HTML comments, CDATA sections, whitespaces and empty elements that decrease load time.
- Content – Quality content will always be a key to website optimization. It is recommended that you add new content at least once every 21 days and that the majority of your website’s pages contain a minimum of 300 words, as this lends more authority. Also, as part of your content creation, be sure to optimize headings, subheadings and Call to Action elements, in addition to font, size and color.
- Keywords used in SEO – You want your website to rank with search engines, so don’t overlook the value of keywords and long tail phrases. Be sure they are used in your page headers, contact page and about us page, as well.
- Social share buttons – In this day of social media engagement, don’t miss the chance to let people share your website content via social media sites. Consumers frequently want to “show off” what they are reading or purchasing online via their social media sites. Having the social share buttons not only allows them to show-off but in their doing so, they are helping promote your site.
- Know your sources –This goes back to testing. Figure out where your website traffic is coming from, as well as at what point they are leaving. Based on this information, change your site where necessary.
- Encourage user feedback – Consumers want to be heard. Be sure your website has somewhere that comments can be submitted and that you have someone who is checking and responding to those comments. This will give you a firsthand look at what your site guests are looking for, allowing you to optimize your site accordingly.
- Is it mobile? – As more and more consumers are surfing the Web via mobile technology, it is vital that your website be optimized for the mobile device. Consider these statistics from Hubspot.com regarding mobile Web browsing:
- 96% of smartphone users have encountered sites not designed for mobile devices.
- 67% of users are more likely to return to a site if it is a mobile-friendly site.
- 48% of users say they feel frustrated or annoyed when they visit sites that are not mobile friendly.
- 78% of users want to be able to find what they are looking for on a mobile site in just a couple of clicks.
- 73% of users stated a need for shorter forms with fewer fields and minimal scrolling.
- 76% of mobile users want to get location and operating hours from a mobile site.
Optimizing your website is a vital part of building a better user experience. It requires dedication, frequent testing and updating, but all of this is time well spent if the result is more site guests and higher sales. If you want to determine if your website is user-optimized, but don’t know how or where to look, give Page Progressive a call. We are here to help!