Website User Experience – Why You Should Care
A few years ago I had to sell my beloved Honda S2000, a car which was as bonkers as it was beautiful. Despite the occasional leak of the soft top roof and an annoying habit of trying to kill me on roundabouts, I desperately loved that car and miss it daily.
There was however one issue with the maintenance of the S2000 which sent me into an eye twitching rage every time I had to deal with it and that was having to replace side light bulbs.
With any normal car, you lift the bonnet, undo whatever waterproofing features the light has and replace the bulb. Not so with the S2000.
The Neanderthal who designed the headlight assembly of the S2000 decided that what you really have to do is remove the inner front wing. This involves putting the car up on ramps, removing the front wheel, removing the front inner wing and then practising your best brain surgery and yoga techniques to get at the offending bulb. This turns a 2-minute operation into an hour of swearing.
It’s very evident that Honda didn’t think about user experience when designing the S2000 headlamp assembly… but what has this got to do with your website?
User Experience Matters
When people shop online, they want to find the product they are looking for quickly and easily, find out the price and if acceptable buy the product. Anything you put in the way of this process is blocking potential revenue for your business.
This is the reason why if you are trading online, you really must think about the user experience you are presenting to your website visitors, both humans and search engine robots.
Common User Experience Website Mistakes
Abbreviating all website user experience errors into a short article isn’t possible. There have been many quite lengthy books written on the subject, however, here are a few common errors to think about and avoid:
Poor product images – In an eCommerce website, product pages are in effect representations of your inventory, your physical products and your salesperson all rolled into one. A huge part of user experience for website visitors is being able to see the products you are asking website visitors to consider buying.
If you don’t have large, clear, well focussed images along with a zoom facility to enable visitors to see detail of the product then don’t expect to sell anything on your eCommerce website!
Limited product descriptions – Product descriptions again act as salespeople for your website. The content on product pages represent your one chance to persuade a website user to add that product to the basket, so make sure product descriptions ‘sell’ the product to a potential purchaser.
If you don’t describe the product you are trying to sell in a clear, easily understandable way then firstly search engines will never index that product page and secondly conversions on that page will be non-existent. Avoid using supplier sourced descriptions and write unique text that clearly conveys what the product is so that both search engines and people will love your product pages.
No guest checkout – It’s 2020. The average website visitor, if we are to believe the statistics, spends roughly 6 seconds deciding if they are going to stay on a page or go somewhere else (perhaps to one of your competitor’s websites) to purchase the product they are looking for.
Online shoppers are in a big rush to do things, so considering this, not having a guest checkout facility is going to dent your eCommerce businesses’ bottom line!
Make sure both your regular checkout facility and your guest checkout facility (which doesn’t require registration) are as slick as possible, allowing people to buy the products you have to offer quickly and easily.
Not being ‘mobile optimised’ – Google announced several years ago that more searches take place on mobile devices like smartphones than any other device. Add this to the fact that for a couple of years now, more websites were accessed by mobile devices than desktop or laptop machines, you see that not having a mobile optimised website is a very big mistake! Google also uses a ‘mobile first’ index, which means if you do have a mobile optimised (preferably responsive) website then make sure it’s well optimised for search engines.
User journeys across different devices show that the first contact onto a website may not be with the device that is used to eventually purchase a product via a website, which underlines how important it is to optimise for mobile devices.
Actual purchases of products using smartphones are still catching up with desktop and laptop devices, but smartphones have a major influence during the research phase up to a purchase, which makes mobile optimisation key.
Go for a fully responsive website eCommerce website and you will be on the right footing going forward, as fully responsive sites should display correctly on any device.
Don’t use pop-ups and ‘interstitials’ especially on mobile – Google announced in 2017 that those pages which used intrusive pop-ups and ‘interstitials’ (these are overlays, showing sign-up forms or advertisements) on mobile devices especially would be penalised because of bad user experience.
Basically these pop-ups stop people getting to the content that they are looking for without additional clicks to dismiss the pop-up, which is seen by Google as a bad thing.
Sometimes these pop-ups and interstitials are so badly designed that they stop website users from proceeding to the actual page content, a very bad thing if you own an eCommerce website! See https://goo.gl/lYOkQ6 for more details.
Page load speed is important! – Finally, think about page load speed for each page in your website. Typically eCommerce websites take longer to load than static websites, but excessive page load speeds reflect badly on user experience and lead to large increases in page abandonment. Why would you wait for a website to load when you can go back to Google and choose another website?
Do everything you can to boost page load speed, both Google and your website visitors will thank you for it!
Head of eCommerce
David has been involved with Search Engine Optimisation and web development since 1999 and has spoken at many different retail and SEO conferences including Spring Fair and SES London