Are you a small to medium enterprise just starting out in business? If so check out this excellent business start-up guide. Joining the e-commerce world can often seem a little overwhelming. Not only do you have to compete with businesses of the same size in your industry, but you are also put head to head with some of the biggest players. Whilst offering competitive prices and quality products and services is a must, on its own it is not enough. One of the most important things you need to offer your customers is an excellent user experience (UX). Here we will explain why customer user experience is paramount and how you can go about improving it.
What is User Experience?
Whenever a user lands on your website or your brand’s social media page, they will be having an ‘experience.’ The quality of the experience will have an impact on their opinion of your brand and the products or services you sell. Therefore it is essential that you provide potential customers with an excellent user experience if you want them to not only buy your products or services, but leave your website, knowing that they will return in the near future.
It is not your web designer alone that will be able to help you create a UX-optimised website. In order to achieve this you will need to work with a number of different experts from copywriters to digital marketers. User experience is not solely based on visual factors, but conceptual, philosophical and physiological ones too. Still not convinced? Then may we suggest that you read this lengthier piece of what user experience is and why it is important.
Gain customers’ loyalty
The better user experience you provide, the more likely users will revisit your website time and time again. User experience can go a long way in helping brands gain their customers’ confidence. Loyal customers are extremely valuable to SMEs so it is important to make sure that you are meeting their needs and requirements through the experience your website offers.
Generate more conversions
The greater user experience you offer, the more likely visitors are to convert to sales. Of course in order to do this you need to make sure that you provide users with everything from straight forward navigation to a safe yet simplified check out process.
How to create an excellent customer User Experience
The best user experiences are the ones that help users carry out tasks with ease, whether this is accessing information, using easy navigation or purchasing a product with a simplified and speedy check out process. When it comes to user experience, less is often more. You do not want to over-complicate a user experience and if you have to explain it, you have already failed your mission. Below you will find information on some of the ways you can go about improving your websites user experience.
1. Straight forward navigation
If your websites navigation is complicated or long winded, then you are really going to struggle to offer users the experience they desire. Users will be visiting your website for a reason and if they cannot complete the task in question with ease, they will simply click off you website and look for a competitor that can offer them what they need.
Make sure that your web designer creates your site with straight forward navigation. Customers should not have to click through more than two pages to arrive at their chosen destination. It is also important to test your navigation to make sure that all of the links work properly.
2. Quick page loading times
Users are only prepared to wait a couple of seconds for a web page to load before they will abandon it and find an alternative. Therefore part of offering your users a great experience involves making sure that your web pages load quickly. In order to do this you will need to strip your websites of any unnecessary content. Things like videos and image galleries can cause your web pages to slow down so if they are not adding any value to your website, get rid of them for the sake of your websites user experience!
3. Simplified check out process
If your SME is an e-commerce brand, you will need to make sure that you provide users with a simplified check out process. Whilst the checkout process must be safe and secure, it should not be made up of pages and pages that users have to click through in order to buy their products. If this is the case, it is likely that they will simply abandon their online shopping cart.
Many e-commerce businesses benefit from providing users with a one page check out process. Some even integrate their check out process with social media site logins so they can capture information about their customers, without having to ask them to spend time filling in all of their details. The quicker customers can check out their items, the more likely they are to complete the purchase.
4. Accessibility across all devices
With more and more people now using their smartphones and digital tablets to view websites, it has become paramount for businesses to consider building smartphone friendly websites. Not only does the design need to work well across multiple devices, but the user experience must also be transferable. SMEs that fail to cater for smartphone users’ experience face alienating a large proportion of their target audience and losing out on potential sales.
When it comes to creating an excellent user experience for smartphone and tablet users, you have to think about the different ways they use their devices to complete actions. For example, the fact they use touch screen rather than a computer mouse. This can affect the design of your website, as you will have to think about making buttons bigger and avoiding drop down menus, to ensure that users can complete actions with ease.
You will also need to think about what smartphone and tablet users are looking to get from your website. Is it likely that they will need to access information on-the-go? Will they be looking to make a quick purchase whilst they are out and about? If so, you need to meet their needs and requirements through the user experience you develop. Make sure that navigation is simple and that the checkout process is quick and easy.
Test your website
There are numerous mistakes that brands make when it comes to designing a user experience, some of which are listed in this article by econsultancy.com. One of the common issues is that brands treat website testing as a one-off process. They think that just because their website functions well, that it will offer a great user experience. Testing is an ongoing process. The good news for SMEs is that there are some great techniques to conduct user experience testing on a tight budget.
This is not entirely true and in order to go about improving your websites UX, you will need to continuously test new ideas and evaluate them using your websites analytics. Without testing and evaluation, how do you know what your customers do and do not like? If you want to improve user experience you need to use your website analytics to work out what customers want and deliver it.
(Lead image source: Jorge Quinteros)