5 Unique Web Design Hacks to Improve Your User Experience

Article by Tanner Rogers

Recently, I took a field trip with the rest of the Brandcave team to Downtown Austin during SXSW Interactive. For nerds like me, nirvana can be reached during interactive week. All across the city, different live forums, speeches and events are held for startups and enterprise companies alike. From talks on building brands to creating a “Secret Sauce” for small businesses, interactive week is a great way to learn from leading experts in business.

We spent the majority of our day sitting in on a string of lectures on User Experience (UX) and User Research hosted by General Assembly. These lectures were taught by a wide range of stellar UX consultants including CEOs, brand managers and even members of the IBM Design team. Although it soon became clear to me that UX is much bigger than app and web design, I couldn’t help but think of several unique web design hacks that could dramatically improve your visitor’s experience. Here’s what I learned:

1. Distill Complexity

Simplicity is the end goal of any design and that sentiment leaks into how we build for the web. Behind every great website is an intricate and complicated concept that has been distilled into a clear, concise message. When a visitor lands on your homepage, for example, they should be able to understand 1) who you are, 2) what you do and 3) how it affects customers within the first three seconds. That’s the rule of thumb. If the message isn’t clear enough, it needs to be revised. So, how do you know if your message is clear enough? Well, you could pay this guy to get drunk and tell you.

Behind every great website is an intricate and complicated concept that has been distilled into a clear, concise message.

Not every visitor on your site is going to be an expert in web experiences, so making your site clear allows more visitors to feel comfortable with using your site. Bad user experience begins with confusing layout, content and navigation.

2. Create Digital Sales Funnels

How do you improve user experience? You encourage the user to go deeper. That’s the mission of a call to action (CTA). Calls to action provide an opportunity for the user to take their next step, whatever it is, and move down the sales funnel. Whether their next step is visiting another page, subscribing to a newsletter, requesting a demo or downloading an eBook, every page should end with a clear call to action.

Of course, there’s a psychology to clear call to actions. They should stand out from the rest of the website’s design in a clear visual hierarchy. They can often appear as buttons, inline text or even a strategically placed pop-up. Can they have the potential to be annoying? Absolutely. But, they’re meant to disrupt the user’s progression through the site. Done correctly, however, the user should feel like it is the next logical step through your website.

3. Make it Useful For Everyone

Valeria Spirovski, an experience designer for ThoughtWorks, wrote a fantastic blog comparing Pixar storytelling and UX. In it, she wrote “it’s hard to understand the perspective of a layperson when you’re in the position of expert.”

That’s dead on. Naturally, some of your website’s visitors are not going to be industry experts. Because of this, it’s important to create a site that’s useful for every person in the sales funnel.

When examining your own site, attempt to put yourself in the position of every possible visitor. Maybe they know their industry well but they aren’t aware of the industry’s contemporary technology. Maybe they’re an industry expert who is comparing technical specs between you and your competitors. Whoever it is, the site should be useful for them.

How do you do this? Define terms, avoid acronyms and industry jargon, make your visitors understand your product at it’s most basic and intricate levels. Consider the user who has visited your site once and the user who has returned three or four times. Create opportunities to target visitors at different parts of the sales funnel.

4. Drop Stock Photos and Hire a Photographer

Why should you invest in a professional photographer? Because real photos on your website can improve your user’s experience. And, let’s face it, stock photos don’t accomplish much. Real photos of your team in action, in their office, with customers or together at lunch can help your audience connect with your company on a personal level. Research shows that seeing someone’s face can have a dramatic effect on how you view and understand that person.

Spending the time and money on a professional photographer will pay off when your customers see your website as genuine and relatable. Professional pictures of you, your team, and your capabilities shows the real you, not some contrived version of you.

5. Conduct User Research

Do you understand your visitors? Probably not as well as you think you do. It is crucial to ask for feedback on your website because, at the root of user experience is user research, not domain expertise.

Liya James, Creative Director of Idean Austin, spoke at SXSW about lean user research. She described it as “research you do with existing or potential customers as a way to get rid of assumption while identifying needs.” Beyond A/B testing, surveys and drunk testing, Liya suggested performing sit down interviews with existing customers. She encourages companies to embrace genuine conversation with customers by asking who they are and how their problems could be solved.

… At the root of user experience is user research, not domain expertise.

If you’re the founder of your company, do you remember when you validated the idea for your business? How much research did you have to do? Why would we think that we could make a great user experience on our website without the same amount of care and attention?

Unique Web Design

Building a Unique Web Design

User experience is not solidified. There is no clear-cut definition of it, but it is clear that positive user experience begins with a unique web design. Understand your customer, get to know who they are, work to fix their problems and fulfill their needs. As for Brandcave, we desire to know you before we know your vision. Give us a call. We would love to meet you.

4 Simple Steps to Convert Your Targeted Traffic to Customers

In the year 2016 we have self-driving cars, one-man helicopters, and “hoverboards” that don’t actually hover. With constant innovation in every facet of life, it is to nobody’s surprise that the way we market to consumers has also changed dramatically. The days of throwing your face and phone number on a commercial ad are filtering out because fast-paced marketing is shifting from tv screens to computer screens. Consumers are bogged down with media through our smartphones and tablets, but how do you stand out from the other junk that gets lost in the mix of a Twitter feed?

Inbound marketing is a strategic method that puts the marketer in charge of funneling targeted traffic into customers. It grabs the attention of consumers and guides them to your site. This mode of marketing is about marketing to a certain demographic, leading them to your product, and turning them into a customer. Here are 4 steps to help convert traffic to customers.

Draw The Right Traffic

When looking to improve your brand’s digital presence through inbound marketing, it is important to bring the right traffic to your site, not just any traffic. Consumers have problems you can fix and you want to make it simple for them to find you. Understanding your prime demographic will make it easier to hit these targets. For example, if you’re selling a product to young, stay-at-home mothers, Pinterest is the go-to platform for women who want DIY-inspired projects to do around the house. Also, advertise your product in such a way that makes them want to know more about it. Believing your product is great is only half the battle, making your customer believe it is what turns traffic into leads. Again, Pinterest is a superb platform, but you can get lost in the mix if your post is generic. Every minute of a day, Pinterest users “pin” a total 3,472 images (Data Never Sleeps 2.0). Getting lost in those pins is not a difficult task, but zoning in on your target market makes your post jump off the screen. For instance, If you’re creating a blog to detail your product, fit it to the target audience’s desires: “Around the house projects that show off your comfy home.”

Calls to Action

Converting leads into actual customers requires diligent calls to action. A call to action is a physical act someone on your site can perform to gain more information about a product, subscribe to a blog, get on an email list, etc. Construct pop ups that ask for the customer’s email, so they can receive newsletters, blogs, or even coupons to certain products.The longer a potential customer is walking through your site, the more likely they are to take action on acquiring your product or service, so creating links within your blog that sends them to a specific product on your website gives them easy access to information that does not demand extensive research or wandering throughout your site. According to Tony Haile of Time Magazine, more than half of all internet users spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. By creating quick calls to action, your targeted traffic is less likely to bounce from your site. In our fast-paced world, simplicity is a breath of fresh air to everybody, so your site needs to lay out for customers’ needs just as much as you desire for it to attract them.

Simplify the Buying Process

If all goes well, your customer is ready to buy your product. Keep simplicity the theme of your inbound marketing strategy by making the buying process straightforward. Buttons are efficient tools to seal the deal on purchases. A button is a small signal on your site that sends the customer to a purchasing page. The principal of a button is not a flashy, obnoxious circle that screams “I need your attention!” but a subtle, eye catching flag that demands a once over. The purchasing page on your site cannot overwhelm, and the layout needs to be direct because filling out personal information can be a hassle. Also, by simplifying this process it makes it less likely for a customer to bounce away from the purchasing page.

The Follow-Up

For any business, especially a startup, a single customer is a success, but satisfaction does not rest on one customer. Let your previous customers market for you. Help them flock to their friends on social media, make them a part of your business as a loyal customer, and show them what else you have to offer. After your customer has purchased their product, give them an opportunity to share it on their Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for an incentive to continue buying. Ask them to fill out a survey, give them an option to subscribe to your blog, or send them links to similar products that might gain their interest. Word of mouth on the internet is faster than wildfire, so guide the conversation with your product. Integrating customer testimonials in your marketing strategy shows potential customers the credibility of your product and brand. Social media platforms are exponentially spread, so one single Tweet could reach thousands of followers depending on the strength of your Twitter profile (Simply Measured).

The ideal inbound marketing strategy is finding your niche, and driving the customers your way. They want your product, you just have to let them know it exists. Brandcave does a phenomenal job of bringing all of this together for you. If you’re curious to see how we do it, check out the inbound marketing page on the Brandcave website!