How do I ensure a good user experience on my site?
If there is one thing we can say will help you convert clicks into sales (and possibly will help you rank higher, as some say Google looks for it when deciding rankings – especially since the Panda update), it is a good user experience. However, good user experience is a vague and unspecific goal to reach for, especially when you are use to thinking more like a website admin than like a user.
A typical internet user is kind of like a finicky shopper in the mall (we have all been the finicky website browser at one time or another) – this shopper has a specific item or goal in mind, and with so many different stores to choose from, he or she will not waste time at one particular store that doesn’t have that particular thing for long. This shopper walks into a store but promptly walks out if what he or she is looking for does not appear before them quickly. This shopper’s tendency to leave a store within a few seconds will parallel the bounce rate of your site if you do not ensure a good user experience.
So, what does not make for a good user experience?
First, let’s talk about the top things that will have your users turning tail and rushing away within a few seconds of viewing your site. Spam is the top no-no. Everyone avoids spam like the plague! Don’t go near it. A site that is overloaded with advertisements (but has little useful content) would also turn off visitors, as would a lack of design coherence (if there is no central idea tying together the different elements of your site, then it wont be very visually appealing). Additionally, a site that is difficult to figure out will have a high bounce rate (i.e. your visitor has to navigate a maze of ads, “click here’s” or surveys in order to get to what he or she is looking for).
What makes users happy?
A site with a captivating and interesting design is extremely important. Each website should have a design that caters to its audience – for example, a high-end shoe store would have a more cutting-edge, stylish and visually stimulating site, where a test prep company site might be more understated and a little plainer to appeal to the academic minded. Also important is making your site easy to navigate, where users don’t have to jump through hoops to get to what they are looking for; everything important that your visitors would be looking for on your site should be on the first page of your easily navigable site. Additionally, your site should be
useful and answers the questions and queries of your visitors; it should also have a a healthy balance of good written content and engaging images. Too many images may be overwhelming for, say, a person visiting a site looking for weight loss tips (but who instead encounters tons of images of various foods with only a few tips interspersed among the pictures); likewise a huge block of written content might put off your visitors. So, try to strike a balance!
What does this mean for SEO?
The most important way to ensure a good user experience is to try to think like a user. Doing so will contribute to your business, and possibly to your SEO strategy, in a huge way; if you focus on improving your site so that it presents well to your visitors, you may see a jump in your revenue and your rankings.