What makes a website successful? Is it the content? The design? The online marketing? What makes a website successful is a topic that I felt should not go unexplained seeing as more and more businesses are looking to the internet to present their identity, advertise and gain leads. It seems having a successful website is becoming more of an asset to businesses, large and small, than ever before. After some research as to how a website is successful, it turns out it requires content, design, and online marketing, but is a bit more complicated than that. There are some key ingredients, which are fairly self-explanatory, but could take another whole blog entry to explain their importance. Those ingredients include appropriate content, appropriate marketing (SEO, advertising, blogging, social media), and appropriate design. But there is more thought that needs to be placed in the design process, aside from making sure the visual brand is upheld, that can turn a decently successful website into a website that is responsible for generating 50%+ of total leads per month. And that thought process applies to what is called the user experience (UX).
The user experience is how the user feels when navigating through a website and how they may respond, physically (in terms of actions), intellectually and emotionally to the website. The way the user interacts with the website will actually help determine if they will take action and complete the overall goal the website was designed to incite. If the way a user might feel when navigating through the site is taken into account before and while the website is being designed, the final product will generate more leads.
There are many factors that go into creating an optimal user experience. They involve combining form and function to carry out a final goal. Breaking them down into steps will help give more insight into creating the optimal user experience.
- Consider the industry the website will be applied to and the target audience that may become users of the site. How are they expecting the site to look and function?
- Think of the goal of the website and what action you would like the users to complete. Is the best possible outcome a potential lead contacting your company personally? Is it purchasing a product?
- When beginning to design the site, it is important to utilize the idea of flow. Creating this flow involves the visual design, content and navigation of the site. Is navigating the site cohesive yet stimulating, easy to understand, yet entertaining to peruse and keeps the user’s attention? In creating the main pages and sub-pages, it is important to make sure that the visual flow, as well as the flow of the content, are seamless to make the path to the final goal seamless. This seamlessness can also create a feeling of flow within the user. Flow, as an action, is defined as the state in which one becomes fully and positively immersed in an activity to the point they lose conception of time. Some athletes would describe flow as “the sweet spot.” When users feel flow, they are fully immersed in the exploration of a new and relevant website and are more likely to follow the flow and fulfill the ultimate goal.
- During the website design process, it is also important to design with a human touch in mind. A user will respond more positively if the website seems as though it was designed for them and what they are seeking when visiting the website. Being as straight forward as possible with both design and content can achieve this, but adding some warm and/or humorous yet professional undertones can instigate the flow you want to initiate. If the user is receiving all the information they are seeking in a stimulating and efficient way, but also feel as though some thought was put into the presentation, as though they are interacting with another human in an entertaining way, they build trust with the website and, ultimately, the company and individuals that work for the company. Initial interaction with the user once the user has made contact is almost always more positive than if the site had been confusing and less welcoming.
While creating a website design that successfully includes all of these ideas might sound like it’s easier said than done, if incorporated into the initial brainstorming process and carried out throughout the design, it will still come through the design and make a noticeable difference in the final result.