Let me introduce you to the employee you should definitely have on your team. Her job is to take each individual who is or may be interested in your business and walk them through their journey with your business.
Her main responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Understanding the user’s needs
- Directing them exactly where they need to go in order to complete an action
- Providing an enjoyable experience with your business
- Providing enticing visual examples of your products and services
- Providing useful, educational and concise information about your products and services
- Providing solutions to the problems they are facing
- Providing an easy way to contact your business at their leisure
- She must always be pleasant, personable, presentable and memorable as she will often provide the initial impression of your business and accurately represent the look of your business.
As you can see, the User Experience (UX) Tour Guide has a lot of responsibility; it’s not uncommon for her to be entirely accountable for the user’s first interaction with your business. What’s worse, if she doesn’t provide what they’re looking for, your business as a whole could suffer.
If you haven’t already figured it out, this shining example of an employee is your website.
You’ve hired your UX Tour Guide, now make sure it’s doing its job.
The job description, responsibilities and dress code of a website have changed quite a bit over the years. Today more than ever, your website is a vital member of your marketing team; in today’s consumer-driven digital world, above all, its main responsibility is to provide your online users with a stellar experience – start to finish.
That’s when business owners and other marketing professionals must look at their employee, ahem – their website, with a discerning eye and perform an evaluation to ensure it’s working hard for the users and no one but.
You have to create a website solely for your users.
Since your website’s job is to provide superb and functional experiences for your users, as you would any employee, you need to oversee its performance to ensure that it is fulfilling those duties to the best of its ability. However, it’s ultimately your job to provide it with all the resources needed to do this properly.
Conducting your User Experience Website Evaluation
I’m going to walk you through a basic User Experience Evaluation for your website to see how it’s doing. To help you properly evaluate the functionality of your website from a UX perspective…
First, lay out a few tasks that a user may want to perform through your website. You know your customers best, so what kind of pain points may they be experiencing?
For example, imagine a user wants to…
- Purchase an item from you online
- Learn more about how your products/services can solve their problem(s)
- Learn more about your company as a whole
Next, go through the motions a user would go through to complete that task. Try to be as unbiased as possible.
Now that you understand your users’ mindsets, see if your website is doing what you’ve hired it to do – help your users complete tasks, solve problems and learn more about you. Ready to evaluate? Let’s begin.
First impressions are everything. Think of a job interview. When conducting an interview and deciding if someone is a good fit for you, you make an initial judgement about them. Are they dressed well? Are they friendly and direct? Do they show you why they’re the best choice for you? Your website should do the exact same thing to each visitor. And quickly – online users don’t waste any time when it comes to deciding if a website is worth their time or not.
- Clear value proposition. A visitor immediately understands what your business is all about and why they need you above a competitor.
- Aesthetic design. The design is clean, organized and pleasing to the eye and emotions.
- Information hierarchy. The most important information found toward the top of the page.
- Relevancy. All content and images support your company and brand values.
- Eye path. The user’s eye is immediately drawn to the most important sections/ information.
Users today are more impatient than ever. Everyone is different, and yet we still all expect a website to cater to our unique and specific needs. That’s why your website should be easy to use – no matter who your users are, where they’re accessing your site, when they want to access it and with whatever problems they’re facing and needs they have.
- Accessibility. Those with visual impairments such as poor vision or color blindness can easily use the website.
- Responsive/Mobile design. Website is accessible by and useful to the multi-platform user.
- Effective forms. Forms are simple, personalized and help a user reach a goal.
- Intuition. The steps toward reaching a goal are obvious and expected.
Your users didn’t create your website. Especially on their first visit, they have no idea where they need to go; that’s one reason why I like to think of a website as a tour guide. It needs to show them exactly where to go to get to their intended destination (they may not know where it is they need to go – but your website does!).
- Efficient navigation. Your website’s navigation is logically organized and categorized to find information quickly.
- Conversion path. Your website guides a user through a predesigned path to accomplish a goal.
- Consistency. The main navigation remains consistent across all pages.
- Search. There is a search feature to ensure that a user can use search terms to find what they’re looking for immediately.
Many people argue that design is the most important aspect of the user experience. Truth be told, it is much, much larger than that. Good UX happens when all the elements of your website come together in a well-rounded, enjoyable and useful way; UX is harmony. Design is an extremely important visual spine for the body of the website to sit in and around, so it’s easy to see why UX and design go hand-in-hand.
- Aesthetics. The website design and color scheme is aesthetically pleasing to the user.
- Information architecture (IA). Important information is placed higher on the webpage.
- Consistency. There is a basic consistency in design throughout the site. A user can switch between pages of the website without confusion.
- Clean. The website’s design doesn’t feel cluttered and overwhelming. A user can scan between items easily and quickly find what they’re looking for.
- Branding. The design and color scheme are easily recognizable to your brand and support your brand’s overall look, feel and personality.
You may like your website’s content; you may think that it’s technically sound and has a ton of information. But if you’re analyzing the website solely from inside the industry (your employees and peers), then the website is for you; not your audience, not your users and not your customers. Make the content speak to your audience, help them to easily learn what you already know.
- Readability. Your content is easy to read and digest. It is also easily scannable with important aspects highlighted in size, color or weight.
- Accuracy/Freshness. Your content is fresh, up-to-date and accurate.
- Enjoyment. Content is enjoyable to read and supports your brand’s tone of voice.
- Relevancy. The content on each page is relevant to that page and your business, and is also relevant to your user and their needs.
- Usefulness. Is the content on each page useful to the user, does it help them accomplish something – such as solving a problem or accomplish a goal? (What is this company about? What does this product do? Where do I go next?)
The evaluation I’ve laid out for you covers many of the aspects necessary to create a positive user experience through your website. However, it’s important to remember that it’s your users who have the ultimate say in whether your website is effective or not. One person’s needs and opinions will vary from the next.
That’s why performing tests on everything possible and gathering that data is invaluable – even the smallest change can yield big results for your website’s performance.
So tell me, how did your UX Tour Guide do through the evaluation? Do you have a new candidate for Employee of the Month or does your website need some extra training and resources?