9 Design Features That Will Improve Your Customer Experience
Long ago, merchants and traders understood that crafting excellent products is not enough to be profitable.
The items you sell could be of average quality, but if the customer has already heard something good about it – he will probably prefer them to the products of high quality that are unknown to him. Traces of advertising history go deep into the ancient civilizations.
However, the flourishing of client attraction techniques began in the 19th century. The development of those techniques resulted in the appearance of the “customer experience” term. And before I will try to help you improve it, let’s go through the basics and define what the customer experience actually is.
What is the customer experience?
In simple terms, it is a full history of the customer’s relationship with the company. It starts not at the moment the person comes to see the products, but at the moment she hears about the company for the first time. The attitude toward the advertisements, rumors and comments heard from friends or other users, and any interaction with the company’s channels, systems, products or employees create a cumulative effect that is called “user experience.”
In the modern digital era, every business should have a website to be visible, efficient, and thus, profitable. And since your website is, in fact, the most sufficient channel of interaction with users – it will define the major part of the customer experience.
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The competition on the web is very harsh – there are dozens of websites out there that sell the same stuff you do (or offer the same services, or produce the same type of content). And the only way you can stop the user from seeking another site and stay with you is to give him the best possible customer experience possible. On that note, let’s take a look at the features that could make your website more user-friendly. You will be able to apply them both to your existing website and take them into consideration for a new web page.
9 design features to improve
You could ask: “Why are we talking about design features? Is that the only thing that affects customer experience?” Of course, the answer will be “no” – there are lots of other ways to make the customer’s relationship with your company better, like employee training and big customer opinion testing. However, website design is the perfect point to start from. A website is your internet business card and lots of people would like to become acquainted with your company by going through the site. So, let’s make it really awesome, convenient and efficient.
Every user (you and I also count) is like a spoiled child. If he doesn’t like any aspect of the website, he will close it and find another one. The following tips don’t guarantee that every customer will love your website (in the end, we all have different tastes), but they will surely help you avoid the most common mistakes.
If you thought that nobody pays attention to colors – you were wrong. They affect you even if you don’t notice it.
But in this case, I would like you to take a look at the color scheme you use and how it is connected to your business. First of all, there are niches that require you to use some concrete colors. For example, medical websites demand a blue or green palette, law or consulting firm sites have to include gray, dark blue or brown, and so on.
Of course, you can use yellow or pink for your private clinic website, but the traditional colors are what the user expects to see and meeting expectations enhances the customer experience. On the other hand, you can use the colors of your logo – this kind of approach is always a wise decision.
Open your website and take a look at the text on the homepage. If it is small and thin – it wasn’t the best idea. Your website is not a book, the user won’t trace every phrase and read every letter.
The visitor will only read words that catch his eye, which means he will only read the short phrases written in big, bold fonts. This rule doesn’t affect blog posts – they are meant to have long text and small letters (once again – not too small), but the homepage should still only have eye-catching phrases.
Believe me, you can’t afford to have low-quality photos and pictures on your homepage. What would you personally think of a website owner who uses low-resolution images on the main page of his project? I don’t think it would be something nice. Photo quality is a small detail, but not paying attention to such details makes the visitor doubt your accuracy. If you can’t spend some time and effort to find vivid photos – are you reliable enough to deal with further?
As an additional tip, I would recommend using pictures with people’s faces. It would be ideal if you shoot them with your team to show real employees, but stock photos will also be OK. Just don’t choose images with unnatural emotions and weird facial expressions – anyone who looks at them will understand that they are stock photos. Besides that – they look rather distasteful.
That’s the most important thing. The right colors, fonts and images will help you to not scare the customer off after first seeing the webpage. But right after those first few seconds, the visitor will try to understand if he came to the place he wanted or not.
If you fail to show him what your website offers – you fail to gain a new customer. Make sure that your website's homepage shows the visitor who you are and what can you do for him.
How does a customer know if a website is up-to-date? It’s quite simple – he unconsciously seeks features most of the other modern websites have. In fact, there are lots of different cool features, but only two of them are important and popular enough to deem them “must-have features.”
If your website still lacks a mobile version, you need to fix that immediately. The smartphone is a new and popular way to surf the internet. People want to be entertained everywhere they are and checking out websites while using the subway, bus or taxi is extremely common nowadays. That’s why you have to be sure that your website looks nice and is convenient to use no matter what device the customer has. Most modern website templates have a responsive design, so if you can’t create it by yourself, use the ready-made solution.
This is the animation effect that creates the feeling that the website has lots of “inside” space. This feeling appears when the background picture moves slower than the content placed over it. Most modern websites use a parallax effect somewhere on the homepage. If you want your site to look stylish and fancy, use the parallax effect on some part of it.
In the modern world, every second counts. Users don’t have to be patient; as I said previously, the competition is very harsh and if your website loads too slowly, nobody will wait for it.
Your website is fast if it loads the homepage in about 1-2 seconds. Most users will leave the page after 5-6 seconds. So your goal is to speed up. The simplest steps you can take to transform your snail into a rocket are:
- Compress images. High-quality photos are always “heavy,” so you have to make them lighter. If your website is built on WordPress you can use the WP Smush plugin. To optimize pictures for any other CMS, a Compressor is the perfect solution.
- Delete unnecessary plugins. Extensions can add different cool effects, but if you overdo it, they will start slowing down the website. Go through your list of active plugins and delete the ones that are not really necessary.
- Stop auto-play. This is another thing that makes your website heavier and slower. The best way to show videos or play audio is to use external platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. The video will use the platform resource to start and your website will stay light as a feather.
The number of actions you could perform to make your website faster is really vast. If the little tricks I mentioned didn’t help much – focus on that problem, because it is important. And remember that it’s OK to seek help if you can’t do something by yourself. There are lots of services that could help you speed up your website.
A nice appearance will prevent the user from leaving immediately, cool features will make him stay for a while, but the thing that will really make the customer like you is navigation. Appearance and features can’t help if it is hard to find anything on your site. The customer who wastes time search gets annoyed and frustrated. If it takes too much effort to get the item he wants – the client will never return after the purchase. Go through the structure of your website and try to put yourself in the customer’s place. Ask yourself: “Are the menu options obvious? Would the client know how to find what he wants?” If the answer is no – it is time to redo the structure.
Here are some functionalities you can add to make the navigation simpler:
- Sticky menu. This menu bar that “follows” the user while he scrolls down the page is a convenient way to move through the website. The customer can change position anytime he wants, without scrolling the current page back.
- “Back to top” button. If you don’t like floating bars you should at least add the “back to top” button. It’s a small detail, but it will show that you care about the customer’s comfort.
- Bread crumbs. This is a “trace” on the top of the page that shows the user where he is now and how he came here. “Bread crumbs” show all the pages that are higher in the inner website’s “hierarchy,” so with its help the user can quickly go back to the page he just left or visited recently.
There are many people who have some trouble accessing websites. Users with disabilities of all types also want to freely surf the internet, but unfortunately not every website is optimized for them.
There is a document called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG , that defines what a website owner should do to increase his site accessibility. Here’s a short list of changes you can do to make access easier for people with disabilities:
- Contrasting color scheme. To help people who can’t see colors well, try using high-contrast colors. Then, without defining the palette, the person will be able to read the texts and go through the website.
- Alternative text for pictures. Try to always fill the “alt” field of the pictures you put on your website. Blind people use text-to-voice translation software, and the software can only read the alt text. Besides that, it will also improve your SEO rates.
- Audio and video transcriptions. If you put multimedia content on your website, it’s great to add the transcription there too. Then deaf users will be able to read your content too. It will also help people who are in a place where they can’t listen to the audio or video, like a library.
If done right, high-quality customer experience could make you extremely efficient and your website very profitable. All you have to do is place the customer at the center of your business strategy. If you love your clients – they will love you too. Just follow these tips, do your best and become fabulous!