The UX (User Experience) – You never get a second chance
As the Internet has grown and enhanced over the last two decades, competition for web traffic has expanded with it. In order to operate a successful web venture, it is no longer enough to simply increase a marketing budget and advertising expenditures. Engaging users with an informative experience on your site is absolutely critical, and just as vital is delivering that experience in a simple yet unique manner.
UX (User experience), according to designer and pioneer Dan Norman, was a term devised as a net to be cast over all facets of a person’s experience with an IT system. This encompasses the the graphic design and coding of a system, all the way up to the literal interaction between a user and an interface.
In today’s market, where more and more time is spent by the average consumer online via a multitude of platforms, consideration of UX is of the utmost importance. This holds even more weight when building a reputation as a brand from the ground up. It is in this stage of business development, in a highly competitive marketplace where companies vie tooth-and-nail for a share of mere seconds of a user’s attention, that the adage of “never getting a second chance to make a first impression” should inform a tremendous portion of your UX strategy.
Trust = Legitimacy
A major UX factor in creating a valued first impression derives from personal trust, which can be built or broken in just a few clicks. By simply assessing what the typical user would hope to gain by accessing your site and providing the path of least resistance to this information, trust can be established in your brand. If your company is already relatively unknown amongst the casual user, there is no preexisting trust. Add a few broken links, outdated information, or jumbled up navigation and your legitimacy takes a hit.
Think of it like trying to find a restaurant for lunch when there’s no parking, no way of telling where the entrance is, and a sign upon entering that states “Please Wait to be Seated” without a host in sight. There is no direct evidence that the actual food will be subpar, but the difficulties you have encountered before even getting a table already have you questioning the legitimacy of the establishment. The UX should not leave customers confused, which could quite easily affect the legitimacy of your brand. Just as well, keep in mind that if your site does not seem legitimate, there is a good chance that another site somewhere exists that can instill that trust.
Do a blind test. Give an anonymous new user a set of objectives that the typical user would hope to satisfy by accessing your site. If it seems like there is any difficulty in locating the desired information, you can assume that a potential customer somewhere in the world has encountered similar problems.
Tangible Factors to aid in creating a valuable first impression
There is a bit of a balancing act to play with your first impression. Easy is the name of the game – you want your user to find your site straightforward in conveying information and for purposes of navigation. Adhering to up-to-date industry trends such as keeping the menu at the top of the page, sub menus just below or to the left side, and displaying a visible (and current) phone number in the upper right hand corner are crucial in helping the user both navigate the page effectively and retaining that valuable degree of legitimacy mentioned before.
At the same time, keeping the information and navigation simple does not require sacrificing the aesthetics of the site. High resolution imagery is where the creative side of your company can shine. Again though, keep it simple; a five-second lag in load time could very well send a user back to searching for their desired product, service, or information on Google. Also, a focus on human imagery can help to build trust by allowing a user to more readily associate themselves with what your company provides. If your site is focused on retail sales, convey every piece of information a user could pose a question towards. If possible, provide an animated 3D view or multiple images from different angles of each item to give customers the most accurate conception of your product.
Don’t overlook mobile design
A great desktop design is wonderful for a company, but it is not even half of the equation. Users do a great deal of browsing from their mobile devices, with many going to their desktops later on to make an actual purchase. This means a strong first impression on mobile devices is key, especially as the browsing stage offers the arena of greatest competition.
Creating a mobile design can be complicated, particularly when factoring in how it will transfer from desktop. When designing UX in-house, be sure to either conduct tests on multiple mobile devices or go the more simple route and make use of a platform that will essentially do this work for you. You can attempt to gauge which devices your users will employ most frequently, but making too many assumptions could very easily cut out new potential users. Instead, anticipate that your site will be accessed from any number of devices and platforms, then plan accordingly.
Establishing an attractive UX environment for your company involves considering every aspect of the experience. Anticipating the struggles your user could run into, finding ways to build trust and legitimacy, and remaining aware that your site could be accessed anywhere from any device will be pivotal big picture steps in building a strong internet presence for your business.