One of the most important elements of the web design process is creating a site that not only looks and works well, but also keeps your users engaged so they spend more time looking at your products and content.
There are many different elements that need to be tweaked just right so your users can get the most out of their experience.
Users are spoiled for choice. This means their expectations of what your website needs to deliver are higher than ever before.
If you plan on keeping them engaged and interested in your content, you will need to take action. We have a bunch of great suggestions to help you do just that, so let’s take a look.
Concentrate on User Experience
This is one of the most important things you should do to your website, especially when you are trying to increase user engagement and the average time spent. This isn’t a one-off evaluation either.
You’ll want to keep an eye on how your website is behaving over time, ensuring that the user experience is as smooth as possible.
So, what should you do if you want to put yourself in your users’ shoes? Think about the path they need to take in order to go from one element to the next. Start at the beginning.
How does your homepage look? Are your links and shortcuts easy to find, and are all the links working correctly? How do all of the design and style elements look?
If the font and background colors are not making the text pop, consider a revamp on the color scheme. Once you are happy that everything is working as expected, you can move onto the next part of your user path planning.
Think about what you want to achieve by having users visit your page in the first place. Do you want them to subscribe to a newsletter? Do you want them to sign up for promotions and specials? Do you have a user forum, social media, or quotation you want them to join, follow, or fill in?
Think about the most important element of your webpage and make it as easy as possible for users to get to it and use. How do you do that? Easy. Remove anything that is distracting them from that end goal.
Do you have a page that interrupts the flow of your website? Get rid of it. Are there too many different links that lead to wrong sections of your site? Revise them.
Go back to basics and include clear and concise Calls to Action. This makes it more obvious what users should be doing and helps to increase the likelihood that they will actually do what you are asking them to accomplish. A Call to Action is a very useful marketing tool, so use it as much as you can.
Optimize Your Homepage
Remember that your homepage is going to be the most viewed element of your website. It needs to be as attractive, informative, and functional as possible. It has to load quickly and correctly, which means no errors or missing items.
This page is the one your users will need to be able to navigate from to almost anywhere on your site from one convenient location. It also serves as the mechanism that creates your first impression for new users. Getting it right on the first visit is really important.
If your website has any other objectives, then your visitors should see them when they first encounter your page so they know what you are all about. These could be subscribe buttons or a quotation form; anything that you want a user to interact with on the page.
Use structure and content to keep your users engaged longer, and give them an incentive to explore your page further so they are willing to look at all your website has to offer.
You also want them to engage with your content like blog posts and galleries, or have them look at your products and services.
Your Call to Action plan from the previous step will help to move them along to the ultimate objective you have in mind. All of the elements that you begin incorporating into your website will start to flow together and work in concert with one another, which will strengthen your engagement with your visitors.
Consider Page Performance Tweaks
Keep the parts of your website that users will see first running smoothly and quickly. If you have a web store, make sure your databases are maintained properly so that the queries your page sends are processed quickly.
Users who want to buy from your online store are far less likely to complete a purchase if the loading times for a transaction take forever. Would you spend money online if you weren’t confident that the site’s creator knew what they were doing?
Think about it from your customer’s point of view. If you aren’t able to create a responsive website, then what other elements haven’t been done properly? Is the payment system safe and secure? Is their personal information safe with you?
These are a few things that could cross the mind of a user who isn’t quite sold on the idea of your online store, so make sure you take care of the basics before you move onto other design elements on your website.
A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s more than just an overused phrase when it comes to website design, and it happens to be 100% true.
If users are met with walls of text on their first visit, you are probably going to lose them after a sentence or two, or sooner. Rather, surprise them with exciting visuals and pictures. But how do you convey information along with those pictures?
You can use a few clever methods, such as photos of your products, or even short video clips. Infographics are another fun and exciting way to visualize a ton of information in a small area of webpage real estate. This makes the website visually exciting while showing off all of the information at the same time.
You win even more points with your visitors if your graphics, pictures, videos, and infographics are all linked to the theme and color scheme of your webpage. This ties into the continuity aspect of your page from earlier, and also helps to solidify the flow of your whole site.
Users are far more likely to respond positively if the site feels like it flows well and gives them all of the information they are after at the same time. If your Call to Action triggers a positive outcome, such as a sale or a user signup, then that is all the better for you and your page.
Cluttered websites are not a good thing. This is easy to let happen, especially if you have been building your site over a long time.
If you are in a similar situation, then don’t fret; it happens to the best of us, from business owners with small websites, to massive corporate companies with big online stores. Just go back to basics.
Sit down and think about which elements are less useful than they once were, or which ones are simply not getting the traffic that they used to. Anything dragging your site down needs to go.
Clean up and optimize each and every element on your site that looks like it could use some attention. Does your query page look a little untidy or dated? Maybe it is time to redesign and make it look a little more appealing.
You would be surprised just how much of an improvement can be made in a short amount of time simply by going through your pages and cutting away all of the unnecessary bloat. Cleaning up doesn’t necessarily need to be limited to the visual aspects of your website either.
Think about your mailing lists and forum, if you have these elements running. Clean up emails that are no longer valid on your newsletter lists. Remove inactive accounts on the page and forum, and check to make sure that any dormant accounts are still needed, especially if they haven’t been used in a really long time. If not, think about removing them as a safety precaution.
You might also want to compact and optimize your databases if you have any that are running on your site. This will dramatically speed things up things like transaction times, especially if you haven’t done it in a long time.
The unfortunate thing about web design is that it is just like other design industries: things come in and out of style. Some things are designed in the middle of a fad or a trend, which makes them look even more dated and irrelevant after a while.
Remember to look at the current styles and trends within your respective industry or online community and keep up to date. Add your own individual style into the mix as well. The goal is to incorporate, not to impersonate.
Make sure you use vibrant colors and get rid of boring, default color schemes. Users hate seeing websites that appear to have had little creative thought put into them, especially if they are coming to your website for ideas and inspiration.
Try to keep things exciting, but resist the temptation to go to extremes. Keep things moderate and as appealing to larger audiences as possible. Color is pretty subjective, so look at many resources for ideas. Look at what works, and use the best elements of those color schemes to fit your identity and brand.
Engage with Users
Many companies are discovering that their customers want to interact with them more than ever before. This is exciting because there are new technologies that allow them to do just that. There are many other ways you can connect with your users, fans, and customers, but the most common forms to emerge in recent years are:
Many businesses use an automated chat bot to strike up a conversation with you as you land on their page. This is useful as they generally have answers to the most common questions, although they are not as good as chatting with a real person. However, depending on their setup, some of these chat features will redirect you to a real person. This helps to convert user interest into sales, so the benefits are obvious.
There aren’t many people or businesses without a social media component or presence integrated into their business model or personal brand, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that fusing these platforms into your website would be highly beneficial. Social media is a fast and convenient way for your users to keep in contact with you, and stay involved in your online activities.
For businesses, discounts and free stuff are a good way to keep your customers coming back to your website. Think about launching a campaign or promotion if you have special pricing or products that you can offer to them online. These can be exclusive deals that aren’t available anywhere else, which will incentivize them to keep coming back for more good deals or exclusive content.
In order to get your website to stand out, you need to test and change things multiple times before you get it just right. This iterative process needs to be refined over time, and tweaked with as things progress.
If you are a little nervous about making massive changes all at once, then simply making small changes over time can help, especially if your user base is prone to being scared off easily. The last thing your website changes should do is alienate and isolate your loyal users and customers, so take care not to upset things too much.
If you have a big enough community following you, you could even farm out the redesign process to your fans and users. You could consider holding a competition that lets them either design the winning layout for you, or you could give them a selection of potential designs and let them vote for their favorite.
Your users know what they want, so asking for their input can be an excellent way to consult with them to make sure the changes you make are more likely to be accepted.
How do you keep your users engaged on your website?