User experience (UX) is something most business owners don't consider when making their website but is a significant part of its online success. Your website is the centrepiece of your digital presence, so it has to convey your brand's best possible representation.
You'll have to make hard decisions about what information to prioritize and how to present it. Some UX principles (like keeping a clean layout) might go against your instinct to splash as many sales promos and callouts as possible onto the page. Other UX principles (like using small font sizes and multiple banners) are outdated and need to be stripped in favour of modern design trends.
It takes time and effort to build - or rebuild - a website to give visitors the ideal user experience, but you will experience the payoff first-hand. How? Let me list the ways:
Google wants to reward well-built websites. That's why many of the principles of good user experience directly and positively affect SEO performance.
For instance, a website with an organized and logical site structure is easier and faster for Google's site crawlers to index (and therefore place better in search results). In the same vein, Google is always looking for the latest and greatest information, so it's beneficial to update your site often.
Higher Conversion Rate
Good website UX makes it easy for customers to give you money. The easier it is for them to find what they want, and the easier it is for them to buy what they find, the more successful you will be.
There's not much more to it.
Longer Time On-Site
Think about your website in terms of a physical store. Is it easy for a customer to get around and find what they need? Or are they constantly being challenged by inadequate labels and confusing layouts? There's a difference between lingering because you want to and lingering because you can't find what you need.
A well-built website is a joy to use. If a visitor is there to consume content, having an easy way to flip from one article or video to another encourages them to consume more. If a visitor is there to shop, and organized and inter-linked catalogue can prompt them to see other similar or related items.
Consistent Website Performance
Good website performance begets a good user experience. A website built to load fast will retain more visitors and reduce your bounce rate far more effectively than a haphazardly-built site with long load times.
A simple website with easily navigable menu options is easy to update and maintain, as opposed to a complex website with multiple sub-pages -with the added benefit of being more comfortable for visitors to read.
Increased User Satisfaction
Imagine a store where the shelves are stocked out haphazardly, with obnoxious signs all over the place and litter in the aisles. Now imagine a clean, well-maintained store with organized shelves and clearly-labelled products. Which store makes you a happier shopper? Dollars to donuts says that it's the latter.
Your website works precisely the same way. Visitors who can find what they need in the places they expect will have a much more pleasant browsing experience than those who encounter a cluttered or outdated layout. And you want to associate as many positive emotions with your brand as you can.
Don't make your website's user experience an afterthought. Remember, you're building the website to serve the customer, not you. Every design decision has to be seen through the visitor's eyes and manipulated by their hands. Just because you think it's evident and natural doesn't mean the customer will.
A good web developer will know all of these UX principles by heart and will be able to provide guidance. Just keep an open mind and understand that if there is ever a conflict between your wants and the customer's needs, the customer should always come first.