In the digital age, it's not enough to simply establish a website. Your website needs to be both attractive and functional in order to attract visitors. The idea of "if you build it, they will come" won't really pan out unless you keep the user experience in mind at all times.
In fact, Google has a bit of an obsession with user experience (also known as UX). If you don't prioritize it in your web design, you might see a negative impact on your search rankings. When your aim is to improve your SEO and increase your conversions, you'll want to do everything in your power to prevent a bad user experience. This can include anything from site redesign, optimizing and compressing image size, or even a major overhaul of your whole site through a website migration. But if any of the following signs sound familiar to you, you're probably going to want to hire some new website designers right away.
1. Unattractive Web Design
One major UX sin involves overcrowded, ugly, and/or dated web design. A clunky layout, pages filled with banner ads, obtrusive animated elements, auto-play videos or music, over-sized images, or deliberately overwhelming text can all ruin any chance you have of impressing visitors. All of those components say that you're stuck in the 1990s and have no idea what you're doing.
The reality is that anywhere from 30% to 90% of users say they'll stop interacting with a website if they feel its design is poor. Not only that, but they'll be a lot less likely to even trust your company in the future. Your web design should be professional, clean, and attractive while supporting your brand's message. If that means you need an entirely new website to get the job done, that's a cause that's worth the investment.
2. Slow Loading Speeds
The aesthetics of your site are extremely important, but so is its performance. If your site won't even load, visitors won't be able to appreciate all that design work. In fact, they'll probably abandon the endeavor entirely. Approximately 47% of internet users believe a site should take no more than two seconds to load. What's more, slow site speeds result in $2.6 billion in lost sales every single year.
You might know that all good things take time, but those who find your site online aren't going to wait around to find that out for themselves. It's an extremely frustrating experience for users, who are much more likely to hit the back button and find another resource. This can impact your bounce rate and your rankings as a whole, especially if other aspects of your user experience are lacking.
3. Annoying Pop-Ups
While pop-up ads and notifications have changed a lot in the past couple of decades, they haven't become any less intrusive and obnoxious. Auto-play ads, mailing list sign-ups, "show notification" windows, and other deliberately confusing tactics might bring in more accidental clicks and sign-ups... but they'll also make visitors a whole lot angrier.
Google is taking action to penalize some sites that abuse these aggressive tactics, but they're still used widely by businesses of all kinds. In an age when outbound marketing and sales pitches are seen as rather seedy, it's best to tread lightly here. Make sure none of the techniques you use are in violation of Google's best practices and ensure nothing you're doing could be aggravating to those who stumble upon your site looking for answers. Remember that you'll likely catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar; if you focus on providing more relevant content, you'll probably build your rankings and brand reputation without having to resort to looking so desperate.
4. Confusing Navigation
Having an attractive, functional website is a must. But in order to be seen as useful, visitors have to be able to find what they're looking for. That's not possible when your navigation is unclear. If you've left out the most popular landing pages (and links to them) like search, support, contact, about, or login information, visitors probably won't even bother. They'll write you off as being unprofessional and will look elsewhere for what they need.
Not only do you need to have those elements, but they need to be placed where they make sense. The navigation bar shouldn't be edgy and inaccessible just to be creative. It should be easy to understand and the elements should be placed exactly where users would expect them to be. Your site's navigation should guide users to where they're looking to go. It shouldn't make getting there a lot harder. You need a search bar, drop-down menus that make sense, and intuitive components that are completely user-friendly to succeed in the online realm.
5. Non-Responsive Design
Yes, your design needs to impress with its looks and its functionality. It also needs to do that no matter what device is being used to view it. In the past, that meant having a mobile-friendly version of your site. Now, it means opting for responsive web design that can automatically adjust to provide the same experience across any and all devices.
Essentially, your website needs to run just as smoothly and offer the same information whether it's being accessed on a desktop computer or a smartphone. With so many more internet users navigating to websites via mobile devices now, it's never been more important to ensure your web design is responsive.
Keep in mind that just because you already have a separate mobile website doesn't mean you're in the clear. With Google's move towards Mobile-First Indexing, responsive design is actually better because it offers the exact same experience regardless of device (rather than offering something different to mobile users and to desktop users). Even if the text and graphics are essentially the same on both versions, that may not be enough to convince mobile visitors to stay. Usually, the mobile versions of websites are quite bare and don't actually provide a similar experience. That can be frustrating to visitors and to Google. So if you want to improve your SEO and your overall design, responsive is the way to go.
Why Does UX Matter So Much?
The user experience really does come down to proper marketing. Without it, you're building a bit of a wall in front of your business. Users can't access the information they want if you don't make the experience a pleasant or easy one for them. If you were walking down the street and came across a business with a barrier out front that kept you from getting inside, you probably wouldn't bother trying to find another way in; you'd just move on and find another business with an open door.
When your site doesn't have a stellar user experience, you're literally giving customers a valid excuse to do their business elsewhere. Instead of opening the door to them and providing them with everything they need, you're sending the subliminal message that you don't care about your clients and that they shouldn't bother trying to work with you. Is that really what you want to communicate? Probably not.
User experience has always mattered to a certain extent, but prior web design trends often caused flashy features to win out over substance and convenience. That's not really the case anymore. Designers have ditched a lot of the hyped-up components in favor of simple, clean, and attractive layouts that can aid the user in locating what they need. That doesn't mean your website shouldn't impress upon first glance, however. It simply means that the look of your website isn't the only thing that matters -- to visitors or to Google.
Your visual identity will always be important, but it can't take precedence over the quality of the interactions visitors have with your site. Ideally, you'll need to marry those two ideas to create a website that's both attractive and functional. You really can't have one without the other and expect to create a successful web presence. And that's why it's essential to work with designers who understand the importance of UX.
If you're looking to take your site to the next level and improve your presence online, we're here to help. For more on our web design services, please contact us today.