Thanks to the popularity of the internet, having a professionally designed website is now mandatory for any business if they wish to reach that ever-growing portion of their market that is now online. However, just having a website with a great overall look is no longer adequate. A new trend in effective website and digital design is emerging nowadays, and it’s the emphasis on well-thought-out user experience, or UX design. The idea is that it isn’t just enough that a company has a website, but that its website has to provide a great user experience for it to actually contribute to the goals of the enterprise.
When we think about it, this makes perfect sense. Everything we use nowadays—from our computers and smartphones (and the apps within them) all down to our appliances and tools—are constantly being redesigned to be simpler and easier to use. Complicated software user interfaces, for example, have been replaced with those that are less cluttered and more context-sensitive. Appliances such as microwave ovens and gas ranges now have pre-programmed cooking setups that are accessible with just a push of a button. It’s only logical that websites would follow suit with this trend, seeing as they have become an inseparable part of the way many businesses operate nowadays.
That said, does good website UX design actually matter in the long run, or is this just another fad that can be safely overlooked? We explore some of the top reasons why good user experience is actually an absolute must.
Good UX ensures that your website is conducive to customer conversion
It’s a universal truth that first impressions matter in a lot things, and the same can be said with websites. It’s a fact that’s even backed up with at least one study, where it was found that visitors often judge whether or not they like a website mere seconds after seeing it. In fact, it only takes as little as three seconds for them to make that decision. What’s interesting is that that’s barely enough time to read anything on a website or to fully appreciate any of its attention-grabbing features.
What does this mean? It means that, in order to convince visitors to stick around, a business has to design their website in such a way that it quickly conveys its goal and function in those three seconds, all while being visually pleasing and interesting enough to compel the user to stay. It must deliver that great first impression in that short amount of time, otherwise it risks losing those visitors and failing to convert them into customers.
A focus on good UX during the design stage of a website prioritizes the delivery of that first impression. Everything from the main colors of the website to the font style and the images used will be taken into consideration in order to maximize the chances of the visitor staying. The longer they stay around, the higher the chances of them exploring the site and being converted into a customer.
Good UX ensures that your website actively engages customers in the right way
An emphasis on good UX in any website’s design means that its features are geared towards providing a user experience that’s as smooth and as seamless as possible. This contributes to a generating a higher degree of customer engagement by making it easy for the customer to actually partake in the website’s features, no matter what they are.
One good example of an implementation of this strategy involves a huge e-commerce website managed to earn an additional US$300 million in revenue simply by removing one element that stood in the way of customer engagement. That element was the ‘register’ button, which used to appear on their product checkout page whenever a first-time visitor would try to buy something from the website without a registered account. Those customers were previously not be able to complete their purchase unless they signed up, which ultimately dissuaded them from going through with their planned purchase.
The e-commerce website noticed this, and replaced the register button with a ‘continue’ button—essentially allowing those unregistered purchases to go through. They then placed a polite call to action at the bottom of the checkout page, telling first-time customers that while they didn’t need an account to complete their order, they can choose the option of creating an account so that their subsequent purchases would be faster and more convenient.
The result? A 45% increase in customer engagement, resulting in an extra US$15 million in the first month since its implementation. The e-commerce company would then go on to earn more than US$300 million in additional revenue the following year.
Good UX ensures that your website results in a positive reputation for your company
A bad user experience results in bad customer reviews and a bad company reputation. We only need to look at the recent release of Fallout 76, a videogame title developed and published by Maryland-based software developer Bethesda, for proof. Fallout 76 was released with so many bugs and glitches that the developer came under heavy criticism, not only from customers but also from many game review sites, game bloggers, and tech influencers. This massively negative reaction resulted in not only the game’s review ratings tanking, but also its massive discounting in game retail stores mere days later.
How does this relate to good website UX? Simply the fact that while a good user experience may not earn you accolades and might even be overlooked as a whole, you can be sure that a bad user experience will never escape your customers’ notice. Consumer culture today revolves around dissatisfied customers spreading their negative opinions and experiences on the internet, in an effort to warn other potential customers and prevent them from experiencing the same.
By focusing on providing a good user experience, you insulate your company from any kind of bad press that could ultimately result in a loss of reputation and customers.
Good UX ensures that your overhead costs are kept low
Besides improving customer conversion and customer engagement, a good UX emphasis on your website’s overall design can help reduce your overhead costs. For example, if your website is designed in such a way that it’s absolutely easy to understand and use, with all the information a customer may need easily accessible in just a few clicks, the need to provide customer support in terms of answering inquiries and questions greatly decreases. This allows you to reallocate resources to where it’s more sorely needed, such as into activities that can spur your business’s growth.
Another example: if your website’s UX is good enough that it generates enough positive word of mouth to garner new visitors every day, it means that you’ll have to spend much less in customer acquisition activities, be it running brand activations, putting out advertisements, launching search engine marketing campaigns, and so on.
Good UX ensures that your customers will come back for more
Finally, simply providing your visitors and customers with a great website experience increases the chance that they’ll stick with you over the long term rather than switch to your competitors. The simple fact that they can attach a positive emotion to your website means that they’ll be encouraged to use it again in the future, armed with the knowledge that they’ll be treated with the same experience when they do. This obviously translates to even more revenue for you in the long run, as well as spreading more positive word of mouth that will eventually bring in more customers.
Good UX matters because it matters to your customers
When it comes to making your company’s website effective in attracting more customers and driving revenue, it’s no longer about how slick, impressive, or attractive you can make it. It’s now all about focusing on it being able to provide a consistently great customer experience, from the moment it loads on a user’s screen up to the time when the checkout process has been completed. As such, companies need to put the needs of their customers first when it comes to designing their website, rather than using their web presence just as a way to extol their company’s virtues and accomplishments.