Poorly performing landing pages, from a design and development standpoint, are more than likely to drive users away — ultimately causing a business to lose customers, traffic and potential profits. Whether there are issues with slow page load times or users’ ability to submit a form, any inconvenience to a user may cause them to bounce from your site.
Site speed and form functionality are just a few ways that user experience impacts digital performance. Layout, site hierarchy, ease of use and functionality all directly impact how users feel about your brand, finding it to be trustworthy or shareworthy.
Let’s look into some specific user experience elements to take into consideration that could have large effects on your digital performance if overlooked or under optimized.
Website Design: Elements to Consider
“User experience is really a shell for good design. If user experience is the facilitator between the user and the information, design is what creates the feeling the user has when they receive the information. Users prefer easy site navigation, recognizable icons and when general UX best practices are followed. But with design, the more unique the better.”
— Kerrianne Condon, Art Director
Compress images for faster load times.
Images can make up a significant portion of a page, giving them a lot of weight in terms of UX design. To help with site speed, you’ll want to factor in compressing and optimizing images in your design. If using photoshop, the “Save for Web” option will be a big help here. Plugin options are available as well to save time by compressing images sitewide — Smush is a great option if you’re using WordPress. Compressing and optimizing images will have a large effect on a page’s load time, an important factor to consider for UX.
Simplify forms and test functionality regularly.
Usability refers to how easily a user can complete an intended task. When it comes to on-site forms, you’ll want to consider the purpose of the form and what information you need from a user, such as name, email, zip code, etc. Is this a simple email submission form or something that requires a user to fill out multiple fields? You’ll want to consider the position of the form on the page, as well as the size, colors, auto-fill options, etc. All of these items can affect your digital performance — how soon a user sees a form or how long it takes them to fill in all of the required information, for example.
Aside from design, you’ll want to test forms often to ensure they’re working properly and not causing user frustration that may result in negative impacts on performance. This also should be considered for ecommerce sites as users are going through a check out process.
Incorporate rich content & video.
Video elements add an engaging aspect to your website that will ultimately help increase conversions. Users will be spending a longer amount of time on a page with video, and search engines will organically rank web pages with video content above sites limited to copy and image content. Partnering with a video production agency can simplify the process of adding video to your site and ensure factors such as resource load time aren’t overlooked.
Web Development: Considerations for User Experience
Development elements affect the technical functionality of a page and hold a lot of weight when determining whether a user is going to be able to properly access and stay on your site. Aside from the design of the page, it must be properly functioning, fast, loaded properly and responsive.
“User experience goes beyond the design of the site. Development factors such as page speed and how interactive components are coded are crucial to your user’s experience on your site. In addition, UX developers need to be multi-disciplinary and go beyond just code and be savvy in user testing, wire-framing, and personas.”
— Adam Smith, Director of Technology
Optimize your site speed and page load times.
Users expect pages to load fast, which may seem like common sense, but is a critical factor your development team should be monitoring regularly. How fast your web pages are loading on both mobile and desktop is something you can check using Google’s Page Speed Insights.
Google’s Page Speed Insights tool is a good place to start in terms getting a baseline idea of your site speed. It also helps identify specific action items your development team can begin working through to improve site speed, such as enabling compression, minifying CSS or HTML, optimizing images, and leveraging browser caching.
Google also takes it one step further by explaining each recommendation they provide for your site within a Reference section of their tool under Rules.
Page speed is also a direct ranking factor within the search engine results, meaning Google will rank sites with faster load times higher in the search results. The higher the rank, the more traffic will come to your site, ultimately increasing the potential number of conversions i.e. orders, phone calls, etc.
Use redirects to avoid 404 errors.
No one likes to be sent to a webpage and receive a 404 error — a webpage that cannot be found or may no longer exist. In order to avoid pointing users to 404 errors and risking the chance of losing a potential customer, permanent 301 redirects should be set up to point users to a related page. Whether the page no longer exists or a new URL structure is now in place, sending users to a functioning landing page will increase your chances of converting the user.
If you’re using Google Search Console, you can easily access a full list of 404 errors Google has detected when crawling your site. Under “Crawl” → “Crawl Errors”, you’ll see a tab for “Not found” which will show the response code for a page, 404 being what you’ll want to set up redirects for.
Use HTTPS domains.
HTTPS usage has become a more critical element in terms of impact on user experience, as Google now shows a “Not secure” warning in Google Chrome when a user is filling out a form on a non-secure site. This means that for sites using HTTP, users will be alerted with a warning when asked to enter data in password or credit card fields. Overtime, Google has mentioned, this warning will become present on all pages served over HTTP, regardless of whether or not users are asked to input sensitive data.
Ultimately, users may not trust a site when they receive a “Not Secure” warning, which could adversely impact digital performance. Purchasing an SSL certificate for your site can easily resolve this issue and save you from having an HTTP domain negatively impact how users view your site.
Balancing Design, Development & Performance
Making performance a part of your workflow empowers you to consider elements such as visual appeal and user engagement prior to making decisions. Pages designed and developed with UX in mind create a seamless process for your customers, ultimately affecting how they navigate and convert on your site.
Whether your team has the skills to tackle UX internally or you’re looking to work with a full-service digital marketing agency comprised of experts who specialize in website design, development, SEO and analytics, investing in optimizing your website with UX in mind will help drive digital leads, sales, traffic and more.
Have questions or additional tips on designing or developing a site with UX in mind? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @SilverbackStrat.