User experience (UX) strategy is one of the most important parts of web design. Every day website designers are tasked with creating the ideal blueprint for companies’ websites in order to achieve marketable goals (such as gathering leads, or generating sales conversions). The fact of the matter is that the best UX strategy is one featuring a constantly updating process with checks and balances to determine areas that need improvement and specific successes on your website. As new technology is unveiled, new user-browsing patterns are established that brands need to adapt to in order to succeed online. The following is a list of seven key UX strategies you should apply to your website in 2015:
1. Responsive Web Design
If there is one key takeaway from UX strategies in 2015 it is this – your website needs to use responsive web design. People are using mobile devices now more than ever, so much so that it is not unforeseeable that websites will soon put the mobile browsing experience above that of desktop browsing. For this reason is it crucial that all websites are set up to adapt to the user’s screen dimensions and capabilities, regardless of what device they are accessing your website on. Essentially responsive website design is a piece of HTML code that is used across all devices which has your website adapt its scaling and width accordingly (depending on the device that is being used to browse). Google is even promoting responsive website design as it allows them to more easily crawl and rank your website. Using responsive web design means accessibility for all devices, while using only one URL and avoiding annoying page redirects.
2. Keep Buyer Personas in Mind
Buyer personas are a group of individuals who follow similar patterns in purchasing decisions, and browsing habits. Buyer personas are unique because they do not follow the patterns of traditional demographics (i.e. age, gender, education level etc.) and can be specific to their interactions with your brand. A recent study found that buyer personas are important when it comes to UX strategy because websites who considered buyer personas in their development were made 2-5 times more effective than those who did not.
Companies should build up a portfolio of hypothetical buyer personas based on their data and research, and this should be used to influence UX strategy. For example you may find that a key buyer persona you are wanting to target is searching on your website for specific information on topic “x”, giving you the insight that you need more content on topic “x” readily available. Ongoing analytics ventures, including tracking things like page traffic, conversion rates, bounce rates, social media leads and mobile traffic across these personas will help develop a richer narrative for future UX design strategies.
3. Develop a UX Content Strategy
A UX content strategy is a plan for the creation and preservation of visuals, texts, audio and video on your website. Even with a beautiful web design there needs to be a narrative, a plan, and a storyboard built around your content. What do you want visitors to take away from your website? Where do you want to funnel traffic in order to gain leads? What are your overall goals? It is important to establish answers to these questions and build your site and your site content in order to achieve your goals. Every website should have guided pathways for different personas whose routes are paved with relevant content.
It is important to pick the rights themes and the right layout for your website to elevate your content and place it in front of the target audience. For example the Parallax Theme, which was a popular theme this past year, uses one page seamless scrolling to help narrate a story for each website. Currently websites with themes that favour long-form content over click through content are gaining popularity, especially with mobile users, because scrolling is faster than clicking/page-load times. Understanding not only what content is valuable but how to display it to best suit current user browsing habits is a key UX strategy.
4. Pay Attention to Micro-Moments & Micro-UX
Recently Google highlighted search habits among its users called “Micro-Moments” that focuses on brands being visible in the moment users decide they want to know something, go to something, do something or buy something. There is no longer a traditional, easy to map out pathway to purchase; and although buyer personas are still present, many users are guided instead by their everyday impulses. It is important to identify the micro-moments that matter to your brand and your personas, and structure a UX strategy that caters to answering micro-moment queries, or providing easy to access solutions. Combining this with micro-UX involves paying attention to any small adjustments that can be made in order to gain greater satisfaction from your users. These strategies range anywhere from one-click shopping options for easier purchases, to suggestions in your internal search engine, or even to hover zoom over products on an e-commerce site.
5. Highlight Your Social Feeds
Social media sites are becoming increasingly relevant as not only ways to generate leads, but sources of traffic back to your main website. In fact over a third of all referral traffic to the average website is now coming from social media sources. It is therefore important to have social media incorporated into your UX strategy design. Facebook recently released a new analytics app that tracks users across all device platforms, a way of successfully following current user patterns. Ensure that your social media widgets and social media feeds are displayed prominently on your homepage and across your website in order to promote interaction with your brand online. Establishing not only how users are interacting with your site, but on which device and through which social media apps is valuable information for your future web design layouts and advertising campaigns.
6. Personalize Your UX
7. Run Usability Testing
If you are unveiling a new website design or assessing areas to improve on your website, it is best to try usability testing. Even if you believe your website is easily navigated and understood, usability testing allows the average user to give valuable feedback on problem areas. If you are a larger company and can afford usability testing, it is highly recommended, but even smaller companies can extrapolate usability based on Google Analytics data. Get users to visit your website without any assistance and navigate through your pages while providing feedback. You might for example discover that they are not following the narrative you thought they would, or are not being drawn into assumed focal points on your website. At the end of the day you are not designing a website for yourself, and it is important that your UX strategy reflects the best possible website for your ideal users.