You’ve been promised many times that your new website will be amazing, innovative increases sales, yadda yadda yadda? I’m guessing quite a few. So many developers and designers promise the world but yet break some of the basic principles of design and user experience (UX). If you’ve got a high bounce rate or a website that is not converting into sales, then this post is for you.
Why is User Experience important?
User experience isn’t just locked to website design. Everything in life has some element of user experience. Every coffee shop, restaurant, takeaway and more. Good user experience tells us how to interact with the world around us. For example, it’s the good user experience that tells us we have to stand in that queue, or that we have to sit down and wait to be served. We build these “mental models” within us that tells how we are meant to interact with the situation we are presented.
User experience is key to ensuring that the users do what you want them to do. If it’s not clear and intuitive then users will not know what to do and will not do what you are expecting them to. When this translates across to your website, if it’s not clear and intuitive then you get higher bounce rates, more aborted shopping baskets, and fewer conversions.
What makes good User Experience?
Good user experience comes down to a few main things, the first thing I’ll talk about is the cognitive load. If you’re thinking “what the hell is that?” it’s just a fancy phrase for how much our brains have to think. In psychology, there is Hicks Law which represents how long it takes for us to make a decision depending on the number of options available. Now, this isn’t a linear graph instead, it’s all about getting the right balance between being complex and being simple.
There was a famous experiment carried out to show Hicks Law and it’s all to do with jam. At a farmers market, they alternated each week between the number of varieties of jam which could be bought. One week there was 6 varieties for sale and the next week there were 24 varieties. They alternated this over a number of weeks until they had a clear and consistent result. When people were subjected to fewer varieties, they sold more jars than when there were more varieties. So why is this? Well, it all comes back to what I was saying about cognitive load. As soon as people need to start making too many decisions, their reaction time is longer and they are therefore less likely to buy.
How to improve your User Experience
Translating what we’ve learned above across to your website, you need to ensure there is the minimal cognitive load. This means making sure it is easy to use, intuitive and follows design axioms.
Now another terminology “design axioms” – what on earth is that? It’s simply a proposition or idea that is accepted as the best way of doing things. This is different to design patterns and to explain this I’ll go over a couple of design axioms now. When you click on the logo on your website what do you expect to happen? Well, you expect to be taken back to the homepage – you don’t even need to think about that one. Another example of a design axiom is with navigation bars. A user will always expect either the navigation bar to be at the top, or on the left-hand side. As soon as this gets moved to the right-hand side, people struggle. Their brain has to cognitively think about what they are doing, which causes frustration. Don’t break design axioms, ever.
So if you have to copy so many of these axioms which don’t change, how do you make your website unique and improve over time? That’s where mental models come in. Wherever you want the user to carry out an action, you need to think about it in the users’ terms of what they want to do. For example, if they want to book a weekend away the user might be thinking “I want to book a weekend away in July at the beach that is within a 2-hour drive of home”.
Taking that into consideration, you then need to adapt your interface to enable the user to translate that thought as easy as possible. Rather than showing a drop-down of locations, maybe automatically get the users location and have a traveling distance option? Then the user has to think less, reducing the cognitive load which in turn improves the user experience.
I hope you found this post useful if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch on the contact page.