There’s a common misconception that if you can just get to the top three listings of a web search, you’re golden.
It definitely helps to be front and center. Studies prove that if you aren’t on the first page, preferably the top three, you need to find more reliable methods for getting potential customers to your site.
But getting your listing to the top three isn’t guaranteed business. It’s just curb appeal. Once you actually get your customer on your site, you have to keep them there.
That’s where User Experience comes in. User experience includes what happens when they get there, what they do there, where they go, and even why they stay. It’s the way they perceive the site, the way it looks and feels, the way they feel using the site. It’s just as much customer service as a receptionist or lobby or...well, your customer service reps.
So how do you create the best experience for your user? How do you turn clickers into visitors into customers?
Think about the User.
Ridiculously simple, right? But companies often get so wrapped up in branding and technology and emulation, they forget the most important fact of the equation. The actual person using the site!
So when creating the User Experience, consider User Expectations as well as What You Want the User to Do once they get there.
Basically, what do visitors expect to see when they go to your site?
Consider why they are looking for you in the first place, what their needs are, and what they are looking for in your site. What they are actually looking for, not just what you think they are looking for.
There are concrete objectives like increase business through marketing or get my plumbing updated. But there are underlying needs, too, like ambition, prestige, safety, wholesomeness. And even those expectations can be different for different audiences.
For instance, a visitor may be searching for your services, but they want to know you aren’t going to screw them over like that one guy. They’re going to need to see certifications, testimonials, guarantees, plans.
If a user is focused on having the best, they may be much more focused on the way the end result looks. So your site needs to prioritize visuals and possibly use language and testimonials that focus on appearance.
Determine why your user is there, what they expect, and accommodate them as much as possible. Give them the info they want, organized in a way they can find it easily.
But don’t just assume you know what users are looking for. Talk to your customers. Ask them why they were there in the first place. What they were looking for. Why they made the decision they made.
What You Want the User to Do
Ultimately, your goal is to sell. You want the user to buy (or buy into) your product/idea, share it with others who will buy it, buy again, etc.
But for a website the decision to buy takes a lot of little steps along the way. It’d be nice if your visitor immediately made the decision to purchase, but usually they have a few other steps before they get there. So here are some of the things you want your users to do.
- Click through to other pages, exposing them to your business and helping them prepare to make a decision. You need clear navigation and pertinent but simple information.
- Contact you to address their specific issue. Provide ideal contact methods (which aren’t the same for each target audience) and multiple contact methods. And give them a reason, a Call to Action. If they think, “I would like to contact the company,” “Contact Us” works. But if they are looking for “More Information,” someone to “Ask About Our Plans”, or how to “Get Started,” they are more likely to contact the company through appropriately labeled links.
- Stay on your site, not go to your competitors’. When the user leaves your site, you are highly less likely to keep their attention. But if you provide comparison right there on your site, whether it’s using names or generalities, they are less likely to do the research themselves.
- Share your info with another decision maker. Your site must be shareable across platforms and social media friendly. Imagine your user texting or messaging a link and the recipient pulling it up on their phone or laptop.
- Stay on your site until they are ready to make the decision. Provide plenty of information well organized and, in some cases, entertainment so they forget to go anywhere else. I don’t necessarily mean to put a game on your site or flashy lights. To the right audience, Before and After pictures can be just as entertaining as Candy Crush.
- Return. When you become the go-to website, you are more likely to get and retain your customer. Keep your site up to date, refresh info through news or blogs, develop a mailing list to remind users you’re there and you’re helpful.
User Experience and SEO
Here’s what’s really cool. A great website not only ensures your users are more likely to turn into customers. The better your site performs, the better your Search Engine Optimization. So whether your listing is on the first page or not, if your users are making positive decisions on your website (as listed above), your SEO rating will improve.
Google et al have figured out that just because you say all the right words, doesn’t mean you have a reliable site. Your users’ activity--engagement, clicking through, contacting you, buying, etc.--proves your site, and therefore your company, is legit. Their customers are looking for legitimate options, so those are the sites they will rank higher.
So let’s talk about how we can get your site at the top of the first page. Let’s talk about how to fulfill your customers expectations. Let’s talk about how to get users to do what we want them to do. Let’s talk about how to make the User Experience of your site phenomenal.