Experience matters. When you shop at a store, sit down at a restaurant, or embark on an extravagant vacation, you look forward to having a positive experience. Visiting a website works the same way. Users want to have a pleasant experience. And while they won’t remember visiting your site the same way they would remember dining at a fancy restaurant or relaxing on the beach, they will remember it. And the way in which they do impacts your business, school, or nonprofit.
Keep the User Coming Back
If you want to keep your site in visitors’ minds and keep them coming back, your site must offer a positive user experience. In a broad sense, user experience is how a user perceives and responds to using a website. According to UX Matters , there are four distinct elements “experience” must encompass:
In order for a user to have a pleasant experience on your site, it should include all four of these elements. The best way to find out if it does is to take a step back and ask yourself:
- Does my site provide value to users? Is it giving them the information they want and need?
- Is my site easy to use? Are users able to access the information they need or must they jump through hoops to find their answers?
- Does my site have a learning curve or will users know what to do as soon as they log on?
- What makes my site different? What makes it engaging?
You surely would never return to a restaurant where the waiter was rude or the food was cold. However, if you have a great meal at a restaurant or a nice exchange with a cashier, chances are you’re more likely to return to that restaurant or business. There’s a feeling of comfort in those positive, welcoming interactions and those experiences have a lasting impact.
Your website should work the same way. It’s your “digital front door.” You want people to keep visiting and, if you own a business or work for a college, you want those web visitors to gradually step into your real front door.
Plan Early to Cut Costs
User experience isn’t easy. You have to understand your users and their wants. Your site must be simple to use. It must also be engaging, yet it can’t be too immersive. After all, users have very little time. They want to visit your site, find what they need, and log off. But you still want them to remember your site and come back…
This may be why a great many of the web’s more than 600 million sites aren’t user friendly. Even some of the world’s most luxurious brands offer sites with a user experience that’s less than luxurious. However, this puts you at an advantage. If you can learn, plan for, and implement the elements of a great user experience early on, you’ll already be a step ahead of your competitors.
This takes research, testing, and revision. Here at KDG, our web design team conducts plenty of research on users, creates hundreds of personas (detailed descriptions of imaginary users), and spends hours testing and retesting sites to make sure they offer the best experience possible. It’s a lot of work, but planning a good experience early will cut costs of frivolous features your site doesn’t need.
All Work and No Play?
User experience may not be simple, but it isn’t all work and no play. One trend that is proving this and sweeping web design is gamification. Gamification implements the well-known elements of video games, like high scores, hidden “prizes,” or progress bars, into websites.
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to improving the user experience of your site, gamification may be the way to go. Why? From the classic Nintendo 64 to the new Wii Switch, video games have found a way to engage generations of diverse users.
Keep in mind that gamification doesn’t mean turning your site into a mini-game. It simply means breaking down the features of a video game, analyzing why they work, and implementing those elements into your site, elements such as:
- Progress bars – Ultimately, you want users to complete a task, whether that be submitting a form, making a donation, or filling out a profile. Progress bars not only encourage them to do so, but guide them as they do. Our own weekly feedback emails feature a progress bar so users know how much they have left to complete.
- Real-time feedback or live chat – Today’s games use live chat to build connections between players. Implement this idea of real-time feedback into your site to build a similar bond between users and your business, school, or nonprofit. These chat boxes can also give support to your users and help them find the info they need. A real person doesn’t even have to be behind the chat. There are plenty of ways to automate this process and still provide a great user experience.
- Badges, prizes, or rewards – If a school’s looking to raise online crowdfunding dollars, badges, prizes, or rewards that are shared on social media are the best way to thank donors while encouraging others to give. Our designers used this element in Drexel University’s 2016 crowdfunding campaign, which ended up going viral.
- Leaderboards – From Twitter to Tumblr, this feature is employed by nearly every popular social media site. These sites list the content and news stories that are most popular at any given moment. Add this “What’s Trending?” feature to your site by showing which blog posts are leading the way and which pages are most visited.
All of the above “gamified” features match the four important elements of great user experience, from guiding users through learning curves with live chat and progress bars to keeping them coming back with rewards and new trending topics. There are plenty more universally loved elements of online games you can work into your site. Be creative and take a great first step to a more improved user experience.
Changing the Game in User Experience
User experience isn’t simple, but it’s important. If you want to keep customers, clients, donors, and students coming in through your digital front door (and save costs by building a site right the first time), user experience is something that’s worth taking the time and effort to understand.
At KDG, everything we do, we do with the user in mind. If you’re looking for a tech partner who cares about the experience of users, as well as the experience of its clients, fill out the form below to get in touch with a member of our team.