9 Important Lessons We Can Learn About User Experience

User Experience

In the following post I’m going to discuss 10 serious issues that can kill your conversions and put your websites readers backs up against the wall.

These are lessons that I picked up from an expert in web usability and user experience that goes by the name of Steve Krug who is the author of “Don’t Make Me Think”.

The user experience on your site can be the driving force behind your website or it can kill your site off before it’s even gotten off the ground.

No matter what the purpose of your website is; whether it’s to promote an affiliate product or you’re trying to sell a pair of shoes – you need to think about this and design your website accordingly.

You can use the user experience on your site for your benefit and work in elements that can encourage social sharing for example – this ties in very well with reader engagement.

Now, before I dive in to these lessons it’s important to remember that there is a lot more to launching a blog than meets the eye, instinctively most bloggers optimize their content to get maximum love from Google because it’s a huge traffic driver, but on the other hand we need to be writing and optimizing our content for users too otherwise we’ll lose our audience.

I do believe there is a happy medium between the two and that’s what you need to find but remember that if readers don’t have a great experience on your site then you can throw all the traffic in the world at it, and they’ll still think it sucks!

Let’s start thinking about the user experience!

Ready? Let’s dive in…

1. Make it difficult for people to get lost

I’ve seen some horrible websites where the navigation is so difficult that I give up even trying and on other sites the navigation is so great that I’ll read a bunch of pages or posts on the site.

Telling people where they are is a great way to do this, relating this to the real life world – if you’re in a big shopping mall that you’ve never been too before, you’re probably going to want to find out of those “you are here!” type signs right?!

I do, mostly because I don’t want to spend ages wandering around and the same can be said for websites.

Let people know where they are in the site.

Things like breadcrumbs are a great way of doing this -

WP Kube Breadcrumbs - User Experience
Or telling people where to start -

WPKube Start Here - User Experience
Note – these examples are taken from WPKube.com, a great example of a website that’s built to be engaging and has a great user experience.

The most straight forward way to do this is to put all the information that users could need at their fingertips and use navigation menu’s for what they’re meant for – navigating.

2. Be clear about what you want users to do

Have you heard of something called the “paradox of choice”?

The paradox of choice is based on a study that came to the conclusion that if someone was to be faced with too many options then they can end up not making a decision or just go with what they’re comfortable with.

To put this into context, a restaurant around the corner from my office has an insane menu – every time I go there, I stare at the menu for 10 minutes, struggling to decide what I want to order.

I end up ordering the same thing every time because I’m paralysed by choice.

This translates very well in to the design of your blog, which is why I recommend outlining your goals and making sure the design and setup of your blog reflects that.

If you want me to sign up to your list, don’t throw so many advertisements at me that I don’t know where to look!

Keep it simple.

3. You’ve got to test if you want a good site

Don’t just think you can throw up a website and think that’s ok – well it may be to you, but you’re not fine with it just being “ok” are you?

You want it to be better than ok right? You want it to convert like crazy?!

This means testing headlines, opt-in forms, blog layouts and even the layouts of blog posts.

Sounds a bit like hard work right? But when was anything worth doing easy?

What about types of testing? You can go for regular split testing which is a straight forward favourite, or if you want to really ramp things up you can try using multivariate testing.

Don’t worry, it sounds complex but it’s not, it just means testing more than two variables.

A while ago I wrote an article on Pro Blogger about multivariate testing (the easy way), the post is pointed towards opt-in forms but it can be applied to a number of other parts of your site.

4. Make key information visible

Isn’t it annoying when you need to contact a site owner about something important, or something that would even benefit them and you there are no contact details?

I’ve even seen social media focused websites where it’s impossible to find the site owner or websites own Twitter profile – I guess I won’t be following them for more updates then!

In the world of ecommerce, this can translate into hidden pricing and delivery information – you know, the important stuff that helps us make a buying decision?!

5. Don’t make me wait!

We all hate waiting for web pages to load, right?!

What about annoying flash intro’s and stupid stuff like that? Yep, them too.

I know they’re not used much anymore, but I still see them – it’s not 1999 anymore, times have changed.

As strange as it sounds, I’d much rather be greeted by an opt-in gate than a flash intro.

6. Keep your site organised

There are not many things that are worse than this really, in terms of how damaging it can be.

If your site doesn’t look organised then it’s generally going too difficult to navigate or just find what you need.

How do you feel about a site when you can see that the editor or site owner blatantly doesn’t care about the quality of the site and its content? It’s not going to make you want to come back is it?

An unorganised and untidy website can also seriously hurt your perceived authority within your industry and will turn your readers away.

7. You can’t beat a good headline or tagline

It’s a fact, if your headline sucks then your posts aren’t going to get many clicks, shares and in turn links built to them.

They need to be descriptive and entice clicks, but also deliver on any promise that’s made – people have written entire ebooks on the subject, but to get a head start there is a comprehensive post about creating headlines on Moz.com.

If you make a promise your blog post doesn’t keep, you’ll only annoy your readers.

Taglines work in a different way and while they won’t entice visitors to click on a link to your site or something similar, they’re still very important.

A great example is right here –

BlogPreneurs Tagline
Why is this a great example?

Visitors will hit the site and immediately know why the blog exists and how it can help them – there’s no guessing, although you could definitely guess what BlogPreneurs is all about, but that’s not what this is about because you need to make things easy for visitors and take guessing out of the equation.

8. Keep the noise down

Don’t you just hate it when you visit a site and there is simply too much going on, there’s not just one thing like too many ads above the fold or some annoying pop under ad – there’s just WAY too much going on.

Sites like this make my brain hurt.

Here’s an extreme example -

Lings Cars - User Experience
This is possibly one of the most extreme examples of “busy” sites that I could find and it’s the complete opposite of what we should be aiming for.

Although, Lings Cars is so crazy that it could potentially work and for no other reason than it’s so crazy that people tell their friends about it, share the site on social media and link out to it.

That’s not to say that you should do the same, because I’d imagine there to be a thin line between success and failure with sites as crazy as this.

So, keep it simple and minimal works well, although not so minimal that you’re wasting too much white space.

9. Write for speed readers

I picked this out especially because one of my bad habits is that I skim and speed read my way through some blog posts to pick out certain sections that grab my attention.

Don’t think that you’re going to be able to engage your audience and give them a good user experience by just a 1000 words of text in one block.

Space out your content and use headings and sub headings to mark out your content and you’ll be able to engage with speed readers easier and those that aren’t speed readers will be able to navigate your content better and digest it easier.

It’s also a great help if you come back to read part of the post later.

Summary

User experience is a huge subject, Steve Krug wrote a book about it and there have been plenty more written about it too.

If you start off with these important lessons and think about them while putting your blog together you’ll be ready to make sure you can make the most of your traffic and they will engage with you and your website easier.

Ultimately, a poor user experience hurts your readers and it hurts you on a deeper level because you’ll get fewer opportunities, whether this is offers of content or maybe someone that could potentially want to review a product or invite you to speak at an event.

You’ll still need all the other good stuff that gets your site ranked and sends traffic to your site, but when you have that and you follow these lessons, everything will fall into place and overall will help you become successful online.

Which user experience issues put you off websites the most? Or which things do you look outfor?

We’d love to hear in the comments.

Featured image by opensourceway

  • http://www.reginaldchan.net Reginald

    Hi Adam!

    Good writing! User experience huh. Damn I love your heading and the way you phrase your sub titles. Good job on that.

    I too skim pages and run through headlines. Maybe I am just lazy but I know there are a lot of people doing that. I love to highlight ny sub titles to make it stand out. Even at times, using bolded works and those underline ones.

    Nonetheless, thanks for sharing!
    Reginald

    • http://bloggingwizard.com Adam Connell

      Hey Reginald,

      Thanks buddy, glad you enjoyed this.

      Could be, but we're both time poor, you know, so many projects that we're working on at one time and a lot of the information available tends to be repeated, or at least partly – power skimming means we can pick out what we need to know and save time.

      Time is money ;)

      Thanks!

  • http://www.pennyful.in Sekhar Reddy

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing great article lessons from Steve Krug about user experience. This is very useful information for online review readers. Keep it up such a nice posting like this.

    Regards,
    Sekhar Reddy.

    • http://bloggingwizard.com Adam Connell

      Hi Sekhar,

      I'm really glad you enjoyed the post and found it helpful.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Adam

  • http://www.maunalanipoint.com Shannon J

    Thanks for this post. I especially like #9 – I use a lot of lists/ bullet points, too.

    • http://bloggingwizard.com Adam Connell

      Thanks for the comment Shannon.

      It's surprising the difference adding some bullet points can make.

  • http://www.webhostmap.com/ Rob

    Excellent point on testing. You really cannot rest with just putting something together and hoping it works. You definitely have to test out what works. Great article!

    A little off topic, but I am curious about your Popular Posts widget. I've scene it around on a few other blogs – what plugin is that?

    • http://bloggingwizard.com Adam Connell

      Thanks for your comment Rob.

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the article!

      It’s a plugin called “Post Skin” by Glen from ViperChill, it’s a paid plugin though but one of the nicest that I’ve seen so far with a lot of options.

      I’m planning on doing a review of the plugin soon but if you wanted to check it out here’s the link – http://postskin.com/

      If you’d like to use my affiliate links, here it is – http://bloggingwizard.com/loves/postskin.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      All the best,
      Adam

  • http://www.intuito.com/ Omar Bailey

    A tagline which is catchy will definitely work best. A really great tagline conveys a company’s benefit with personality and attitude and the most memorable taglines connect on an emotional level.

    • http://bloggingwizard.com Adam Connell

      Thanks Omar – I’m with you 100% on that one.

  • http://likeme.net Mike Huiwitz

    Great points! I especially agree with the navigation part. I hate reading blogs that I find hard to navigate through.

    • http://bloggingwizard.com Adam Connell

      Mike, I feel your pain!

      Thanks for checking out the post!

  • Steve Krug

    Thanks for the mentions, Adam.

    I thought some of your readers might be interested to know that I just released a new edition of my book: Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited, with new examples and a chapter on mobile usability. Details are at http://sensible.com/dmmt.html

    • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      My pleasure Steve.

      Thanks for the heads up on the new edition of your book. I’ve just shared it out to my followers on Twitter/G+ – glad to see you release a new version!

      Thanks,
      Adam

  • epiphany

    nice post