Hello everyone! This past month I’ve been studying data from various tools including Google Analytics to help our clients enhance their websites from a user experience perspective but more importantly, perform better in terms of ranking on Google.
So, I wanted to share some of my research and talk to you about some important aspects that must be taken into consideration when building a website - especially since there is a lot of uncertainty around the collection of data from our customers and prospects who visit our websites with third party cookies being phased out. Furthermore, we want to make sure that the audience visiting our website has a pleasant experience because if they are frustrated, they are less likely to want to share their data with us. So let's talk about the importance of user experience (UX).
The Importance of Good UX
The International Organisation for Standardization [ISO] defines UX as “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product or service”. So if we had to break this definition down to its simplest form then we can say that when designing a good user experience, our primary focus should be on creating a user-friendly experience rather than creating a website that is beautiful but difficult to use and might lead to frustration.
In fact, Amazon Web Services said that 88% of visitors and users are less likely to visit the website again if they have had a poor experience which is why we can say that a good UX helps empathise with the user by creating a natural feeling environment on the website where they don’t need to think about what they are doing because it feels intuitive. A good UX helps to associate a positive experience with your brand. This keeps the customer loyal and thus influences the customer value journey.
There are also benefits for your SEO rankings. Different factors like the speed at which your site loads, the permalink structure, navigation tools, etc. all affect your SEO - Serpwatch. Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is whether your website is mobile-friendly or not. 64% of searches on Google are now done on mobile so it is important to have a website that adapts to the different browsers and platforms a user might try and access it from.
Aspects to Consider When Building a Website
If your website is slow to load this can lead to problems as your users become frustrated and Google dislikes pages that load and run slowly. They may even dock your SEO rankings because of it, but don't worry Google has a nifty speed checker tool if you’re in doubt. And, you can add faster animations to give your website the illusion of it being quicker than it is.
The Evolution of SEO
SEO is crucial to a marketer as it makes your website more visible - which in turn means that more traffic is driven to it and thus you have more opportunities to create customers. This is why it is important to stay on top of Google’s core algorithm updates to ensure that your content is in line with the latest changes.
Recently Google has been giving more importance to snippets, graphs and knowledge cards and the September 2022 core update focussed on ensuring that helpful content written using natural language is now prioritised over content that has been written to game the engine.
Long-tailed keywords (full questions or sentences) are particularly helpful as they do a better job of stating the user intent compared to short-tailed keywords and they tend to be more relevant to users as they seek to answer a particular question. Similarly, pillar pages have also seen increased importance since this update as they are considered to be both user-friendly and engine-friendly.
Call to Action
A call to action (CTA) prompts a user to take a specific action on a website and is absolutely crucial to guiding the user and telling them what to do next. However, having too many strong CTAs like “buy now” or “get in touch now” can be overwhelming for a user and push them away. You may also want to avoid having too many CTAs in general as you want the user to have a streamlined experience and don't want to confuse them by asking for too much from them while you are attempting to gain their trust.
Ideally, you will want to have softer, more passive CTAs which gently guide your user and leave them feeling in control. The idea is to familiarise them with your brand more before asking for a commitment from them. However, this does not mean that you have to sacrifice stronger CTAs completely. Combining both gives the user more choice and freedom to pursue whichever avenue they want to and share their data once they feel more comfortable.
We all can and should be using tracking tools like Google Analytics and SEMRush to try and understand how many users are coming to our website. However, you should also be implementing third-party analytics tools to understand how these users behave on your website. A great tool for this is HotJar, a heat mapping tool which will give you nuanced information about how far users have scrolled, what they’re hovering over, how long they’re spending on each segment of your webpage and so much more. And there are so many more tools that you can use depending on what the needs of your business are, so definitely do some research into this.
Preparing for a Cookie-less World
As third-party cookies are slowly being phased out over the next couple of years it is imperative that as marketers we prepare for new ways of gathering information from our website visitors. Thus, our focus must shift to not just collecting and refining first-party data, but also obtaining zero-party data in a way that doesn't feel invasive.
Furthermore, for those who can implement it, server-side tracking might be quite a useful tool to have in your arsenal as a marketer. This allows you to bypass restrictions put in place by Ad Blockers and ITPs imposed by browsers. Server-side tracking is privacy friendly, GDPR compliant and a robust way of collecting first-party data that is accurate however it can be resource intensive and expensive depending upon your requirements.
Progressive Lead Forms
As touched on above, zero-party data collection is going to become integral for marketers in the future. In short, zero-party data is ‘data that is willingly and knowingly given by users to a company’. This helps brands to avoid crossing the line from ‘helpful’ to ‘creepy’ when it comes to personalisation, increasing engagement and retention from users. We cover more about the importance of zero-party data here.
But generally, users are in a rush and don't like filling out long forms or sharing a lot of data so we have to be innovative when we ask them to share it with us. While there are tried and tested methods like voluntary account logins, mandatory logins, pop-up registration boxes, metered access with limited free access and gated content we want the process to be as seamless as possible. This is where progressive lead forms come in.
Filling out long forms is time-consuming and often too much for users. Instead, asking users to fill up a very rudimentary form on their first visit and then expanding upon it with every subsequent visit is less of a time burden for them and comes off as a more friendly approach.
Implementing a Chatbot
Chatbots are another good tool to have if you are looking to collect data. However, they must not be invasive to a user's experience on the website and should only be implemented if you are sure that they add sufficient value - to both users and you as a marketer.
This feature needs to be rigorously tested before its added to your website because if it traps the user in a loop that they can't get out of, never leading to a real person or satisfactory conclusion it will be a cause of frustration on their end and make them less likely to interact with your website.
If your industry and website allow for it, you should use the data you are collecting from users to personalise their experience. The importance of a personalised experience can’t be stressed enough - with 83% of consumers claiming that they are more than willing to share their data if it leads to a personalised experience and 72% of consumers claiming that they only engage with messaging that is personalised to them.
This means you can encourage your customers to tailor their experience on the website, allowing them to blacklist certain content and topics. Then, based on their usage and data collected, show them content that they are more likely to engage with. This is underpinned by the fact that 59% of consumers have stated that personalised content and engagement based on past interactions go a long way to winning their business.
Mobile First Design Approach
As mentioned above, 64% of the people who are browsing the internet and visiting websites are probably doing it from their phones so it is imperative to take into consideration the experience a user will have on their phones - a mobile-first approach. It is important to ensure that the navigation panes and the most important action buttons are accessible by thumb. You want to ensure that your website feels snappy and responsive as you don't want the user to leave your website and go to a competitor because it feels too slow.
App-like Experience is Integral
To further help with making your website mobile-friendly you should have fixed button placements that do not float around. It gives the website an impression of being app-like with consistent design features. Almost everyone will have apps on their mobile phones, plus with browsers becoming app-like themselves it won’t feel jarring to a user if they’re switching between multiple applications.
Optimise for Voice Search on Phones
Something that has flown under the radar for a while now is the rise of voice assistants! With over 42.7% of adults using voice assistants on their phones, there is no way to ignore that it just makes the users' life easier and it also helps with accessibility! With a move towards a seamless mobile website experience, it might be worth implementing very basic voice search features to see if your users make use of them. In fact, they are also very helpful when searching on laptops. The usage of this tool has to be tracked though as it might be expensive to keep running - but if your users use it, it's definitely worth building upon!
I hope you took away some points to consider when you’re working on your website! However, if you have any questions or are looking for some advice our team at Webstars is more than happy to help you out, so feel free to get in touch with us.