While looking at and interacting with a website, an app or an interface, it’s easy to get a rough feel for how the experience of using one is simply better than that of using another. Translating this general sense into applicable rules for your own use, however, may prove to be a little more complicated. User experience, often abbreviated as UX, is increasingly becoming more of a science than an art. With a concerted effort, you can see that your site’s UX is tailored to your goals.
What is User Experience?
The simplest way to understand what user experience is may be to think of a website that has a clearly bad UX. Modern web users have been conditioned to a certain form of usability that breaks images and text into blocks that can be quickly scanned. Even the most patient of users is likely to spend no more than 15 seconds on a site with bad UX before giving up and looking somewhere else.
One of the classic sources of a bad user experience is the dreaded wall of text. If a site is nothing but brutally long paragraphs of text, it’s very hard for users to find an entry point to start scanning. This causes the user’s brain to shut down, and soon the user quits.
To counter this response, most modern websites try to break things up. Even the most text-heavy websites, such as scientific journals, use easily scannable text headers to provide speedy reference points. Not only does this make the initial scan easier on the user, but it also allows a return user to quickly pick up where they left off by scanning over the headings until they get to one they haven’t seen before.
In terms of retail experience, this means that sites selling products have to be scannable across a wide range of potential interests. For example, if you look at Amazon’s main website, you find a readily identifiable search bar near the top. You’ll see links to your account settings nearby, and there’s a link to what is called “Departments,” which are categories thought out in terms of the brick-and-mortar store experience.
For a more Spartan user experience, you can take a look at Google’s default search page. Google.com doesn’t hesitate to be simple because the company knows users are there to do just one thing. To that end, there’s a search box and a button to click in order to activate the search. A few links appear in the upper-right corner to allow access to other Google products and the user’s account information. Otherwise, the home page is basically a sea of white.
The user experience is increasingly critical to digital marketing efforts. In the most natural sense, you can appreciate why UX has to be tilted toward retaining the visitor’s attention. After all, if a user simply quits out of a site because they can’t find a simple visual anchor to start scanning, all your marketing efforts go for naught.
Big Search Engines
UX also matters to digital marketing because big search engines now aggressively judge sites based on it. The most direct judgment the search giants make is based on how long users stay on a site before coming back to search. If a search engine sees someone click through and come back in nine seconds, it makes a note.
If this happens too many times, the algorithm will adjust accordingly and ding the site in search results. Similarly, highly cluttered websites that don’t follow good design principles are assessed penalties for a variety of purposes, including poor mobile design.
Good UX yields a wide range of benefits for digital marketers. It keeps users engaged, and it also attracts interest from search engines. By treating user experience as a priority, you can see that your marketing efforts will deliver more positive results.
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