Interesting guest post by Irene Hislop from Matrix Internet, who we recently featured here

When potential customers arrive at your website, are they greeted with a pop up that encourages them to join your email list or register with your site?  Does it block the content they came to read?  From a business owner’s point of view, this makes sense.  You want them to engage.  You want to be able to contact them again, to learn more about them.  But how does it feel to web surfers?  Do those young enough to have grown up with technology and instant access to information, that very coveted demographic, do they appreciate this?

Google thinks not.  The search engine announced in late August that pop ups and other content-covering images (called interstitials) would have a negative impact on a page’s ranking in the search engines.  Google feels this approach creates a poor user experience.  And user experience (also called UX) is what makes a website succeed or fail.

If you had a bricks and mortar store, would you put staff right at the door asking people for their names and contact details?  Would you cover up your display windows so no one could see what you had to offer until they actually came in?  Of course not.  You want to make it easy and appealing for people come in.  You would have empathy for your customers. Your approach to your website should be the same.  Your design should be easy to navigate and appealing.  It should reflect your empathy for your visitors.

What Is UX?

UX (user experience) is a comprehensive term covering all aspects of how visitors use and feel about your website.  Ideally, UX is a primary concern when your site is built.  Design should be empathetic to visitors; their needs should be a top concern.  It takes more than a few tweaks to create good UX on a site that lacks it.  UX includes five elements, and they all need to be strong to create a positive experience for visitors to your website.

  1. Learnability – How easy it is for a first-time visitor to your site to navigate and use the functions.
  2. Efficiency – How quickly visitors can do tasks on your site.
  3. Memorability – How easily visitors who have been away for a long time remember how to use the site.
  4. Errors – How many errors visitors make using the site, how severe the errors are, and how easy they are to correct.
  5. Satisfaction – How much visitors enjoy using your website, not how much they enjoy the information or products but how much they enjoy the functions and interface of the site itself.

UX is not simply picking a great colour and font, and then organizing your information sensibly.  It goes much deeper into how your audience uses your site, what they expect, need and desire.  To create a good user experience, you have to put yourself in your users’ shoes.  That’s what we mean by having empathy for your visitors.

Matrix Internet offers workshops for companies of all sizes on how to understand your web visitors and make UX the cornerstone of your internet presence.

Developing Your Unique UX

Your slice of your market is unique.  In any type of marketing, you need to understand your market niche and know your demographics.  This is especially true in developing UX for your website.  Technology has developed so rapidly that different groups of people have very different expectations about how websites should work.

Solid, detailed and ongoing research is the only answer.  To create excellent UX-informed design, you must hone in on your specific market segment.  Through interviews, observation and focus groups, you can develop strong personas to understand what your audience expects and needs of your site to have an experience so positive that they talk about it with their friends.  What works for one group might not work for another.  Matrix offers training tailor-made for individual companies to help staff learn how to gather and understand the details about their audience necessary to create the most powerful user experience.

Does it matter?  The power of social media marketing shows how much it matters.  We know that people share their experiences – positive and negative, fun and frustrating – on social media.  If someone becomes frustrated using your site, the odds are too high that person will not only click over to the competition but also broadcast their frustration via social media.  Of course, they are likely to compare a frustrating site to a more satisfying one and direct their friends to the site with the better UX.

Matrix Internet has long focused on UX in our web design.  UX is not yet widely understood in Ireland, but Google’s recent announcement could highlight the importance of seeing your site from the user’s perspective.

Business Showcase : Matrix Internet

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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