In the ever-growing age of ecommerce, no business can really survive without an online presence. As part of a brand’s digital marketing strategy, every element of a website needs to serve a purpose. From visuals to usability, every single element is crucial to the customer experience and in turn has a huge impact on the brand’s ability to retain customers and attract new ones.
In this article we are going to take a look at the most crucial ways your website’s design affects the customer experience, why it has this impact, and how you can improve your site design to help your it reach its full potential.
Convince Users to Explore with an Engaging Homepage
They say you only have 8 seconds to capture your user’s attention once they land on your website. That means only 8 seconds to show them how amazing your brand is and to compel them to make a purchase. If all visitors see the second they enter your web page is awful design and undecipherable messages, there’s no way they’ll notice the value you have to offer.
So how do you make the first few seconds captivating enough for visitors to stay and continue exploring your website? There are a number of elements that can help:
- Use a clean, uncluttered layout that puts your brand’s value front and center
- Include visuals with bold typography and attractive photography that display well on both desktop and mobile devices
- Pay attention to the colors you use, as they each have psychological impacts of their own
While these aren’t by any means the only things you can do with your homepage, they serve as the perfect starting point to critically reassess your website’s first impression.
Help Visitors Find What They're Looking For
While the way your website looks is important, it’s not the only thing you need to consider. Your site’s usability, or how easy it is to use, is far more important when it comes to delivering an awesome customer experience. Just look at the results of this HubSpot survey:
Knowing that customers place such high importance on your site’s usability, there are a couple of factors you need to consider in order to improve your online customer experience.
Your site’s navigation is how your customers are able to explore and move through your website. As a result, it needs to be intuitive and effortless to use. The moment your user feels irritated and confused, you’ve lost them and their business - it’s as simple as that.
The key to this type of navigation is clarity. When visitors explore your site’s menu, they should easily be able to understand how your site is organized and what links to follow in order to find what they’re looking for. This could take a number of forms.
If you sell clothing, you could include links to the different types of clothing you sell in a drop-down menu. If you’re a subscription based service, an anchored menu with links to recurring subscriptions and product categories might be more appropriate.
Whether you choose to use a drop-down menu or anchored navigation bars, it’s up to you to make sure that customers know where they’re going and how to find their way back.
Users do not read a website like they would read a book, from cover to cover. They scan down, looking for snippets of information. This means all of your headlines, product categories, and announcements should be easy to see and even easier to read.
A great way to approach this is by dividing your content into a series of blocks. Spectrum Collections has done this extremely well, announcing new sales and marketing their best-selling products closer to the top. As you continue to scroll down the page, customers begin to discover more about their vibrant brand community and are given the opportunity to get involved themselves.
Arranging your content this way makes it not only easy to skim but also incredibly value for new and returning customers. By starting with the most relevant information at the top, this type of content organization introduces visitors to everything your brand has to offer in an order to makes it valuable for you and for them.
Make Your Online Experience Accessible Everywhere
Mobile traffic has grown significantly over the past couple of years, and the trend does not look to be slowing down any time soon. This means you cannot afford to ignore your mobile users, opening conversations around the idea of responsive design.
While responsive web design was a relatively quiet topic of discussion for many years, it is now the standard against which customers will measure and judge your site’s experience. From your product pages to your rewards program, your online experience should adjust to any screen size, making your website look good and function properly on any device.
You website load time is another major factor that impacts not only your site’s accessibility but also your search engine rank. People don’t have time to wait until your page loads, and if it takes longer than 5 seconds they will simply leave and forget all about you. You can combat this traffic churn by making a couple of small changes:
- Optimize all of your images to maximize load speeds and minimize wait times
- Include more white space in your overall design to speed up page loading times
- Disable autoplay for all multimedia elements (audio and video)
Each of these improvements will do wonders for your customer experience by eliminating several of the biggest ecommerce annoyances. Now, your customer experience is not only much better but your website is also much easier to explore - it’s a win win!
Create an Emotional Connection
Like any other piece of marketing collateral, your website is extremely powerful. Besides the fact that it allows people to purchase your products and services, it also lends you a sense of credibility. People tend to trust a business with a professional looking page over those without a website or even worse, with a really crappy web page.
Clearly, having a professional looking website (like this one from StriVectin) is key to building trust with your customers, but what makes a website look professional? At its core, successful web design creates an emotional connection between your visitors and your brand. These positive emotions make your customers trust you more, compelling them to come back.
Here are a couple of ways that you can build trust and establish connections with your web visitors.
Tell a Story
A great strategy for establishing positive emotions with your brand is visual storytelling. When customers associate your store with feelings of joy, happiness, and positivity, they are much more likely to convert than if they didn’t feel that way.
Your website gives you the perfect platform to build a story around your brand and products to draw new and returning visitors into your store’s values. Whether it’s an inspiring story about reaching goals like Run Gum’s, or a silly one involving fictional characters, having a well-developed story behind your site will create one more reason for customers to explore your brand and understand you better.
Use Human Faces
Scientific research has shown that the human eye is instinctively drawn to images with human faces, regardless of the other content that surrounds it. When properly placed, pictures with human faces can build on the connection you’ve already started building with your brand story.
Use pictures of your team on your About us page and show the faces behind the brand. If you sell something, use pictures of people interacting with your products as a way of helping your customers relate to each of your products more.
These changes may seem simple, but they can have a profound impact on the way your customers experience you website.
Designing an Amazing Web Experience
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the impact web design can have on your customer experience. Website design is much more than just the visual side of things, and it is in your hands to make your customer journey as positive as possible.
Lana Miro is passionate about beautiful web design and works with Template Monster to help everyone find the best solutions for their online projects.
For more information on the thoughts shared in this article, check out their free ebook on how to provide the best web experience possible.