6 ways UX can improve your existing website

Nowadays more and more businesses are realising the financial and non-financial benefits of implementing a user-centred approach to their website or web application. From increased conversions to reduced costs, the investment in user experience is proving its value.

While User Experience (UX) is often considered at the point of redesign and redevelopment, there are steps you can take to improve elements of your existing site to make it easier to use, fit your users expectations and meet business goals.

There is a whole world of user experience techniques that can be explored to improve a website, here is a just a peek into 6 ways it can improve your existing website or web application.

1. Identifying and understanding your users

The first step before making any changes to your website is to clearly identify who your users are. From this point you can begin to gain a crucial deeper understanding of them, their attitudes and frustrations. Creating User Personas is a good way of profiling your key user types.

The reason that your website may not be performing to its full potential is that you may have made assumptions about what your users want, need and expect.

Once you have profiled your users you can start to understand how they use your site.  What are the tasks they undertake and in what context do they do them e.g. on a mobile while out and about or on a laptop on work? This insight will directly influence what changes are needed to improve the performance of your website.

Whether you undertake this user research and insights in-house or appoint a UX agency, obtaining focused, relevant insight from your users is key to identifying the changes that will have the most impact to the performance of your website or application.

2. User Journeys

What are the key metrics you want to improve? Do you want to increase conversions through registering an account or making a purchase? If it is a web application, maybe you want to increase usage or accuracy of information being input.

Combining your site objectives with a deep knowledge of your users means you can begin to review the likely journeys users will take on your site. Once you have this insight you can craft an online experience that is ‘easy to use’ and matches users expectations.

3. Getting the content right

Put yourself in the position of a new visitor when you review the content on your site. Where on the screen are your eyes drawn?  Is it obvious what your business does? What are the most prominent calls to action? Does it persuade someone to take another action? Is there enough information on the page? Is the content self-explanatory enough? Are there obvious help prompts if needed?

4. Become the user

Whether the goal of your site is to make a purchase or to input data, you need to go through that process as if you were a new user. Is it confusing or overly complex? Are there any obstacles that would prevent someone from converting or completing the desired actions? What happens if the user has a question during the process, perhaps about delivery costs or returns, how does that affect their journey? What improvements can be made to overcome any barriers?

5. Use relevant UX best practice

Whilst anyone could just do a web search for UX best practice techniques, there are real dangers of best practice being out-dated and/ or applied incorrectly.

An UX professional who has up-to-date knowledge and experience of working with different types of digital products would be best placed to advise on the most relevant improvements for your site. An expert review documents actionable recommendations specifically tailored to your site, your business objectives and your users goals.

6. Small changes to make a big impact

UX expert Jared Spool describes how the simple change of a button translated into $300 million in increased revenue. Following user research he discovered the resistance users felt towards having to register for an account for a major e-commerce website. Whilst those who created site believed that having an account would be a good user experience to speed up repeat purchases, users in this case thought the complete opposite. The hassle of remembering the login details and the effort of going through the process of requesting forgotten passwords, was costing the company millions as user were simply abandoning their purchases.

By simply changing the ‘register’ button and giving people a chance to ‘Continue’ without registering, enabled people to go through the checkout process quicker. The impact of this change increased the number of customers purchasing by 45%, resulting in an extra $15 million in the first month, and £300 million in the first year.

Whilst this example is somewhat dated, its purpose is to demonstrate that making assumptions about users is dangerous, and how small valuable changes based on user insight can make a huge difference.

An additional benefit of making these incremental changes is that it can be easier for users to accept smaller differences as opposed to them feeling they need to adapt to a completely new site.

In summary

The main principles of UX are about investing in research and insights to inform a user-centric design that is as effortless as possible. If you don’t have the budgets for a full redevelopment, as a minimum, identifying the must-have user-centric changes can make all the difference between a website or application that is a success or a failure.

Expressly .
Expressly .

Thanks for the great article Alaina.

User experience can have such a significant effect on whether or not sales are made and customers return. User journeys, as you point out, are such a large factor. Even more so nowadays considering mobile use is becoming so common.

The journeys that take customers straight through to the sale with as little friction as possible see higher conversion rates than those with more complex procedures. Forms are one thing that contribute to complicating the procedures, but they are also necessary.

We have a solution, however, that all but eliminates the need for forms. We have created a network of eCommerce sites that are able to share information with each other, with the customer's permission of course. This means that when a customer signs up to a new site within the network, account details are passed over automatically. There is no need for the customer to fill in the account opening forms manually.

The network also allows individual merchants within the network to form alliances with each other. Each site will strategically show each other's ads, helping them to aid each other in generating revenue and acquiring new customers. When a customer clicks on an ad, they are taken straight through to the buying page even if they have never visited the new store before.

This friction free approach and ease of use means that the customer's journey is as simple and enjoyable as possible. It helps to provide excellent conversion rates and an ROI that our competitors cannot beat.

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