3 Feb 2020

How to UX your website in 6 simple steps

If you are responsible for managing and updating your own website, our latest article from Digital Growth Programme consultant Rob Gregory is a great read.

Rob has given us tips on what to consider when looking at User Experience (UX) and what you should be doing as a business to keep your website engaging to users.

Website User Experience, or UX as us web nerds like to call it, is no longer the preserve of big tech companies with expensive agency designed websites. As a business owner or anyone in a marketing function, you have to think like a UX expert if you are going to win online.

You might be looking to improve your website in 2020 or you might be completely new to the world of UX design. Either way here you will learn the basics of UX and how to apply them to your own site.

What is UX?
There are lots of different descriptions online that try to describe what UX is. In truth, it’s a broad discipline with lots of offshoots. My description is as follows.

UX in objective approach to designing a system or website that puts human beings at the centre with the express intention of creating an experience that is simple and engaging, and that meets the needs of the intended users.

From my description, you can see that UX is all about the user and how we can make sure they get what they want from a website or system. So how do we design with user experience in mind?

User personas
Firstly, we need to understand who our users are. To do that we create what are called personas. A persona is a description of a real person that represents a group of users. This helps us to understand their demographics, goals, and expectations. Without describing your personas, and writing them down, you just end up guessing. Guessing usually ends up in a design that suits you and not your customers.

Information Architecture
How you categorise the content on your site as well as the structure of the pages and navigation makes a huge difference to the way your users get to the answers they are seeking. Search engines also need to see clear categorisation and navigation structures. Simple is best here, after all who likes trying to get a hover menu to stay open long enough to get to the 3rd level down.

Visual Design
Once you know who your users are, you’ve decided the structure of your site and the content you want to publish you need to plan the look and feel. Design is subjective but your job as a UX aware site owner is to forget about what you like and pick a layout and design that your users will like.

Think about your personas and the types of user journey they’ll be going on. Make sure you choose a theme or template that is simple yet flexible enough for your needs.

Features, Utility and Interaction
This is where you look at the features that your customers(personas) are expecting. Check that the features you think you need are achievable within your budget and are within the constraints of the website design or platform you have chosen. It’s better not to have a feature than to have a poorly implemented feature.

Top tip: forms are a big win area when it comes to UX. If you can simplify your forms and make them easier to use, you can get ahead of your competition when it comes to conversions.

Usability and Accessibility
Thinking again about your personas here making sure that your site is built to meet their specific needs. Think about who they are and how they are going to use your site. You can make user journey and layout decisions based on how they are likely to interact with your content. Consider accessibility too i.e. can your site be read by screen readers, have you made sure your site is well optimised for assistive technologies if your personas require that?

If you imagine your personas viewing your website and it taking 6+ seconds to load you might also imagine that would be the last time they visit your site. Search engines now use site speed as part of the information they use to rank your website.
There are many reasons why your site is loading slowly. Large images can be a problem, too much JavaScript, old technology or simply a slow server could all be slowing your site down. You need to get to the bottom of the performance issues and fix them quickly. You need your site to be loading in less than 3 seconds, less than 2 seconds ideally.

If you consider the items above when developing a new site or use them as a framework to review your existing site, you will see the User Experience of your site improve. Remember your website is never finished and is an ongoing experiment. You need to keep checking the user experience of your site to ensure its always improving and not degrading over time.

If you want to learn more about digital marketing techniques like these, join us at our next seminar. To see dates visit our event listings.

The Digital Growth Programme is managed by East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire). It is a programme part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Chamber and Leicestershire County Council designed to help SMEs located in Leicester and Leicestershire embrace new digital technology to improve productivity to aid growth.