Any stakeholder involved with a website ought to be pressing for the site’s user experience to be continually improved. Whether you’re just now getting around to working on your site’s UX or you’re hunting for the next little tweak to get incrementally closer to perfection, here are eight easy ways to improve your site’s user experience.
Give Users Room to Breathe
Although you may have a lot you want to pack on to each page of your site, you need to give users a little bit of space or they’ll feel crowded. They won’t know what to look at, they’ll feel distracted, and they’ll probably navigate away before too long. Keep each page of your site focused on one or two important elements of your mission, and don’t crowd the screen. Your users will thank you.
Use Hamburger Menus
One potential downside of following the suggestion above: users might have more trouble navigating your site or finding the content they’re most interested in, since your pages will have fewer links crowding them. One solution to this is the trendy, ever-more-ubiquitous hamburger menu. The symbol (three stacked horizontal lines) is now recognized by people across the Web as an indicator that there’s a menu hidden there. Use these little drop-down menus to let people navigate to important pages on your site, regardless of where they’ve ended up, without clogging up your screen with a full menu at all times.
Provide Constant Feedback
Users like to know they’re interacting with a site, rather than merely looking at it. That means good UX design needs to be responsive to input from users. When they click on a “submit” button, for example, a small animation can let them know their action was processed. You can also have micro-animations occur when people mouse over specific links, or other visual cues to make it clear that the site is processing what they’re doing with their keyboard and mouse.
Include A Search Field
Frustration, along with boredom, is the number one thing that causes people to abandon your site. This can happen quickly when users are unable to find a particular page they’re looking to access. The hamburger menu we discussed above goes a long way toward fixing this, but you can only fit so many different things in that menu, and there are going to be more specific things that users need to find. Add a search bar that allows users to search your site by keyword or phrase, and you’ll save them a lot of frustration (and have a better shot at earning their business).
Fix Dead Links
Even sharp webmasters occasionally screw up, leaving a link after the page has been moved or the pathway directed elsewhere. While it’s understandable, for users it’s a massive headache, and a sign that your site isn’t trustworthy and put together. Use a 404-check site to make sure none of your links are dead-ending. A 404 page shouldn’t be part of anyone’s user experience.
Unless you’re going for an extremely minimalist aesthetic, put some images on your site. Well-chosen pictures draw the eye and create positive associations in user’s minds. Try to find images that are both relevant to your site and pleasant in the context of your color scheme. You might also consider a cinemagraph, a video clip that plays silently in the background of your site. It’s usually a solid still image with one element changing repeatedly, and it’s elegant and attractive without being distracting. While it’s true that people grow accustomed to a certain look and feel, there are always adjustments, some small, some large, that can make new and established users’ experience while browsing the site more enjoyable, memorable, and positive. Incorporate the suggestions above to make sure every user experience is a positive one.