Have you ever visited a website and it just seems to be a maze of problems? It’s impossible to navigate, there’s broken links everywhere and the design hurts your eyes. It’s a pain, especially when you’re ready to invest your time and energy into another business. Your website can be a complete turn-off, even to your dream client.
Good, great and excellent user experience is rooted in the visitors problem and solution. Having a strategy for your website is only improved by designing for the specific experience of your person. The website for a Facebook ads expert will be completely different from a photographer, because their visitors have different needs.
Although I’m not a user experience designer specifically, I do understand it’s important, and work to ensure that I am using tools of the trade to create a website that works for clients and their users.
When you think of the functionality of your website, you should think beyond clients and customers who are familiar with your brand. Many times, especially when you DIY your website, you think that just because you know how to navigate it, that it’s going to come as second nature to someone else.
It’s one thing to have a website, but one that combines your business goals with the goals of your user is the sweet spot. When thinking of a website that works for all parties involved, you should consider a few angles, like:
Your Ideal Client
Your client could be on different journeys. Maybe they’re just learning about your business or have already stalked you on Instagram, they should be able to find what they’re looking for. Where can they go if they have questions about your service? What if they are completely ready? Can they book a call or buy directly from you? These are all questions that should be answered before you even begin building, or having someone else build things out.
Believe it or not, competitors will visit your website, and you have to make sure that your website is able to cater to them as well. Consider your industry and what other experts in your field are looking for.
I’d suggest asking a few friends in the industry what they look for when visiting someone’s site. They could be sending a referral your way or checking out your offers to compare themselves to you (because you’re so bomb). Whatever they are there for, they should be able to find what they’re looking for, or at least gain next steps to find out.
So what if someone doesn’t want to buy and isn’t exactly direct competition, but wants to work together in another way? I consider them a collaborator. Maybe it’s a brand wanting to pay you for sponsored content like blog posts, or someone in a different industry who wants to do a special project like a speaking engagement or joint venture webinar.
If you’ve been featured in other podcast interviews, conferences or even featured articles, that’s great information for them to have. Think about how they will reach out and where they can find things like your email or Instagram. Give them all the ways to get straight to you, so you can learn more!
Your Team and Employees
Whether you currently have a team or not, thinking of how the people who work for you navigate your site is super important for ease and lessening stress of new employees. Providing a quick video of you walking through your site is an option, but why not start with an easy to navigate site to begin with?
If there is a new customer service assistant coming on to support you, they should be able to help clients with tech issues and navigation. Your new graphic design intern should be able to find all the assets they need, and link directly to certain pages while you kick your feet up and relax. Slow down the Slack and Gmail pings by having a website that is completely understandable.
So…now that you know who your site is for, let’s talk about how to make sure you avoid the oh-so common hiccups I see every day.
Here are a few tools I use in client projects that help ensure visitors have an amazing experience from start to finish.
Social Share Preview is my trusted go-to resource for checking if the image we picked for social sharing is correct. If you’re not familiar with what your social image is, it’s the picture that is shown when your website link is shared on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
In many website platforms, you can choose different images for different pages. You may have a picture of yourself for your About page and an action shot of your work for your Work With Me page. The site will give you a glimpse of your images and give you tips on how to improve, if it’s not registering. It covers the platforms Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. It will let you know if you need to correct the image ratio, change the description, or if there’s no image at all!
Slow loading time on a site can be the cause of you missing out on valuable leads and most importantly, hard earned dollars. Google PageSpeed Insights rates your website’s loading time on a percentage scale out of 100.
It will walk you through what’s keeping your site from being a 100. Now, keep in mind that a lot of these changes will take time, so don’t feel like you have to handle resizing photos, handling plugins and shifting layouts immediately. It’s simply a good tool to use as you or your developer improves your website over time.
Launching a website that’s wonky on mobile devices always dampens the experience of your user. Over 50% of your website users are bound to be using their phone or tablet. A great way to check what clients on every type of device are seeing is putting your website link into Responsive Design Checker.
With this site, you’ll be able to see not only the standard phone, tablet and desktop view, but you can toggle between specific make and models. From the newest iPhone to an iMac from 5 years ago, always know if something is just a liiiiitle off.
I mean, the name speaks for itself. Broken Link Check completely free to visit and input whatever URL you want. It will check for broken links. You know the ones that slip past you when you update your website for the umpteenth time.
This website is completely free to use, and you can input as many links as you like! You simply copy and paste your website URL, and you’ll see a list of broken links. This tool also shared the page the link is on, as well as the course code. It’s great to use right before a launch or when you’ve gotten a few messages about a broken link that you just can’t seem to find.
HotJar isn’t much of a quick “checker” as the other ones are, but it’s one of my absolute favorites! According to its website, it helps you “understand how users are really experiencing your site without drowning in numbers”. With HotJar, you place a tiny piece of code into your existing site, and it records your users’ interactions in real time on video. The free plan that I have lets you save up to 300 recordings!
I suggest popping the code into your site and checking things out a few days later. You’ll be able to see things like where folks go and how slow (or fast) they read. It’s a great tool when changing copy, colors and even photography. It even gives you a heatmap of your site, showing
you the hotspots people are clicking the most. I haven’t used it on a client just yet, but it’s helped so much with figuring out what’s going on in the brains of my visitors.
When thinking of the journey your clients are going through, it doesn’t begin at their first interaction with you. It begins with your social media, website, features and more. Taking the time to map out what you want them to feel when clicking through your site is a labor of absolute love. If you had to rate your website user experience from 1 to 10, how do you think it would stack up?
Disclaimer: Heads up! This post has affiliate links throughout. This means I may earn a small commission if you decide to sign up for a program or make a purchase using my link. It doesn’t take away from the fact that I love all of these companies, and you will too!
I'm Sydney Hart, a brand strategist, designer and copywriter that rebrands content creation and marketing experts so they can re-inrtoduce themselves while building credibility. I help you attract dream collaborations and clients with a new show-stopping brand and website.