Whether you work in marketing, design or web development, you’ll have heard the term “user experience” thrown around in a few meetings. However, each person probably has a different interpretation of it, as for many it is a misunderstood and confusing concept.
We’ll break it down more in the following paragraphs but in a nutshell, user experience is the collaboration of a user’s interactions on a website to achieve an end goal. This could be to make a purchase or even do something much simpler like download a PDF guide.
Most importantly, a website needs to be useable by any visitor, so things like broken links and 404 pages are going to damage the user experience immediately and they are more likely to leave the site than carry on reading.
The overall usability of a website is often related to things like the structure of the navigation and the layout of the content (not forgetting those all important calls to action).
Consequently, if your website is about to go through a redesign, you need to put your usability hat on and ensure that whilst the site is aesthetically pleasing it also provides visitors with a solid and coherent user experience.
If you are about to evaluate the usability of a website, this usability checklist will come in extremely handy.
Many professionals tend to think that user experience as a whole is entirely isolated to usability, but this just isn’t the case.
Another key element of user experience that us creative types need to pay attention to is ‘usefulness.’ Ultimately your website has to be provide a user with useful information, otherwise they will have wasted their time and head back to the search results quicker than you can say Google.
A key way of making sure that your website offers useful and engaging content is to evaluate your competitors’ websites. These are the people you are up against so you need to make sure that your content stands out from theirs and adds far more value.
You can also use tools like Google analytics to assess the time spent on each page and whether users clicked through to other pages. If a good amount of time is spent on a particular page it is a strong indicator that people find the content of use and that they have gained some form of value from visiting your site. Moreover, by clicking through to further pages you’ll also have a good indication that your content is useful because if they didn’t enjoy your content they would likely leave without reading any other pages and as a result your bounce rate would rapidly increase.
This blog post will help you to understand how you can measure the usefulness of your content using Google Analytics.
Things to remember
User experience isn’t a one size fits all type thing. What works well on one website might not necessarily be the same for another and the same goes for one visitor or another. We can’t design the perfect user experience for everyone but we can try to get as close as possible.
User experience isn’t just relevant to websites. If you are a marketer and currently managing the company’s social media accounts, by putting your user experience hat on you’ll find that you can create a far more effective social strategy and ultimately improve the results you are currently getting.
When it comes to social media user experience, think about usefulness like we discussed above. Are you providing content and information that is useful to consumers? This social media cheat sheet will give you a clearer idea of where you could improve.
James is a freelance writer with expertise on a number of creative topics.