I wanted to let you know about a great conference coming up next week called the Internet User Experience Conference. If you are in the Phoenix area and interested in User Experience Design you need to make it out to this great event!
Here’s a blurb from the about section on the IEUX conference website:
“IUE2014 is a conference that spotlights effective and compelling designs for websites, applications and devices, and teaches methods for dramatically improving today’s user experience. The conference goal is to foster the understanding of user experience and usability methods, and the application of research and best practices to the design of the expanding range of internet “devices” and other customer touch-points. The conference achieves this by bringing you some of the most compelling speakers and the most experienced and effective trainers in the field of user experience today.
The conference also invites a broad range of companies and professionals to showcase contemporary web, tablet, and mobile sites and applications, and to demonstrate significant improvements and redesigns. This combination provides a comprehensive package of internet user experience design training, case studies, business success stories, and real-world examples.”
Join industry leaders from Quicken Loans, PayPal, Amercian Airlines, and more at this great event!
Btw, yours truly will be sharing on a panel on Wednesday about breaking down UI elements to atomic elements. Sound like fun? Come out and say hi!
Visit the conference website to learn more and sign-up today: http://iueconference.com/
What you need to know before starting your website design.
You may or may not have been through building a website before. It might not have been a great experience. You’re likely not an expert in building a website and you shouldn’t have to be. You’re focused on being an expert in your industry. So in this case you’re hiring an expert to build a website for your organization.
As a business owner it’s important to not repeat mistakes where we can. I often talk to organizations that repeat the same process with web developers and they fall into the same trap with bad service and bad expectations regarding their website project. Yes, website design is a service, not a product.
So what are the most important things you need to be concerned with before moving forward with your website? Depending on your industry this could be a large list! So let’s focus on some key items that will build a foundation for a great working experience with a web development company.
Here are 5 Questions You Need to Ask Before Developing Your Website.
1. What is the goal of your website?
I talk often with people who have strong assumptions on what their website does or doesn’t do and sometimes what it should do or shouldn’t do. Sure there are some obvious things a website can and should do for a business but you need to be as specific as possible in this case to drive the strategy and development of your website.
What works > Use Google Analytics to drive website re-design decisions. Data is a key driving factor for how to build your website for your ideal users and customers.
2. Who is your audience?
When starting on a new website you have to be a specific about who your user is. This is often a forgotten detail. Your users need to connect emotionally and be influenced to interact with your business. This is the gateway for turning users into customers.
What works > Create user personas to influence the messaging on your website. Know your ideal customer and how they might feel about using your website considering your industry.
3. What should users to do on your website?
If you’re setting up an e-commerce website you should know every visitor doesn’t buy something. So what is a reasonable goal for new visitors? Signing up for an e-mail list? Following your social network channels? These are important details in order to effectively market to your customer.
What works > Setup a sound marketing strategy that will include e-mail marketing and content strategy to build awareness in your industry.
4. How will your organization use the website after it’s built?
Too often websites become a “churn and burn” process for businesses. You simply can’t expect great results from simply just showing up on the internet. You need to have a ongoing plan in place to effectively use your website to grow your business. Your organization and development company both should play a part in this.
What works > Ask your developer to train you how to use your website to have daily control but allow the developer to create an effective plan for you to succeed in your goals.
5. What type of support do you need?
There are some obvious items to consider for support. One of the biggest items to consider is security. You can’t risk allowing your data or your customer’s data to be at risk so keeping your website secured is essential. Secondly you need to have a plan to scale your website with regards to traffic and performance. Your website developer should know how to guide you through regarding a plan to scale.
What works > Define a support plan that includes security and hosting details that will allow you to be prepared for future growth of your website.
There are more items to consider to have the best experience for your website but this is a short list to get you off and running towards a productive project and productive results for your business and your website. Start your conversation here and allow your questions to get more detailed.
Best of luck on the project!
So your company is growing your website isn’t cutting it anymore. You’re simply not converting users into customers. Don’t panic! There’s effective ways to understand what needs to be part of your website.
If you built your website a while ago and haven’t been actively tweaking it chances are you’re missing out on customers. One key component to your website (or data for that matter) is Google Analytics. This is an absolutely crucial tool for tracking data from your website visitors. This information is especially helpful for re-building or re-working your website.
Most companies agree that improving conversion on your website is most important. But a key component to conversion is user experience. Using Google Analytics to find data can show a clear path to improve user experience on your website. Let’s look at 3 important drivers from your analytics that will improve your website user experience.
1. Data – how it drives change
There are some straight-forward factors to consider in you Analytics to determine what to change. Bounce rate being one of the most obvious along with conversion rate. Form Completions are among another important element to consider. How often does the user abandon the form or (shopping) cart?
Matt McManus wrote a great article regarding how PBS uses data to drive change with their ongoing media production efforts in UX Magazine. Check out the article here.
Ah yes the ever changing landscape of mobile. If you think your audience isn’t meant for mobile think again! You may see in Analytics that your bounce rate is high because your website is not yet mobile responsive. Or perhaps your responsive website is terribly executed. That said, mobile is crucial to your users, and therefore improving your website’s user experience.
Repeat after me: mobile users will do anything and everything desktop users will do, provided it's presented in a usable way.
— Brad Frost (@brad_frost) March 5, 2012
3. Optimization for Landing Pages
This is a user experience make or break opportunity here. Due to the execution of your user interface and proper user experience you might be overdoing it and losing users. So you have to consider your users and how they navigate through the site. The data in your analytics should tell you a lot about this.
Google created a hilarious video about poor and overly optimized landing pages. Check it out below.
What a gas huh? Don’t be that person! Be intentional and consider your user when working on optimizing your landing page or website to improve the user experience. Is your head spinning? You don’t have to be the expert. Allow an expert to guide you through.
Web development can be a tough process. Understandably if it isn’t your strength or interest there are some misconceptions or misunderstandings that come into the process of having a website developed. What makes it even more difficult is that the website development industry has a lot people who provide poor service and even worse quality websites.
To pile on top of that website development is often coupled into a commodity “one size fits all” product by big organizations with slick marketing. What can you you do to determine the best way to approach website development? You don’t need to become an expert but it helps to understand one fact. Website development is a service, not a product.
Buying a Product
I remember buying my first car. My dad and I visited one car lot and it didn’t take me long to find a car within my price range that I liked. I don’t even remember test driving the car to be honest. I just remember my urgency to get a car since I was in college and my parents had allowed my brother to take the car I used to drive that they owned.
Once I bought the car I never went back to the dealership. I never even heard back from the salesperson who sold me the car. It was a “one and done” situation. I’d imagine this is similar to most peoples car buying experience. You may spend more time shopping but it’s likely you bought the car or another product and that was it. You own the product and life moves on.
Building a website isn’t the same as buying a car or a product. We too often think it’s a “one and done” situation. It’s not one visit to the website “dealership” never to return or at least until you’re ready to buy a new one. If your business needs a website, you need to approach your website similar to your business service overall.
Your Website development should be ongoing
Your business operations are ongoing and your customers and employees need to be able to connect with your messaging online. No business is the same, or at least no business likely has the same exact approach or personality. So why should you believe that your website should be manufactured before your goals for the website are?
I get it. If your business is small and you’re not experienced in dealing with website development it’s difficult to not want to treat it like an item on the checklist. You have to determine to partner with your website developer. Build a plan and determine how to get the greatest results from your website.
Here are a three items to consider to get the best ongoing results for your website.
1. Make your website stable.
Most websites have content management systems that have updates and been to be backed up and updated often. This is the case for websites running WordPress. Websites can become hacked and data might not be recoverable and can cause the loss of thousands of dollars of your investment. You can’t risk it. Make a plan for your website to be stable as possible.
2. Create great content for your website.
If you want to attract customers or become a better resource for your employees content is crucial. SEO is important for customer attraction sure, but content and proper website development principles apply for an effective website. Once you have a customer on the page it needs to be easy for them to convert!
3. Create, test, repeat.
In addition to creating new content and getting your website more visitors, it’s important to determine what works best. Once you start producing content you can then determine what brings the best results and expand upon that.
4. Plan for the future.
Easy enough right? You shouldn’t have to redesign your website entirely every year. Not that I’d fight you if you asked us, but honestly it would be best to determine the course for your website and how it will best serve your business goals.
You don’t have to be the expert at website development to know how to get the most out of your site. The biggest challenge most people have is their own incorrect assumptions. You don’t know what you don’t know and you have to ask to know in most cases. I hope these items have given you some things to think about with regards to your website and how web development is a service.
Until next time!
It’s wonderful to be back in Miami for WordCamp again this year. WordCamp is a conference centered around WordPress and is intensive on sharing knowledge and skills in order to use WordPress better and create better WordPress experiences. I get the opportunity to share on User Experience and how we should consider creating the best WordPress experience for our users.
Check out my slides below to follow along on “The Future of UX.”
Why do you have a website? You may have a handful of answers prepared that are targeted towards what your business needs. But the most important reason for a website is very simple. It’s for the user.
Without a user using the website there is no chance at acquiring customers. The user can and will become your customer if you play your cards right in creating a great experience on your website. This is absolutely imperative to gain traction for your business and it’s why you need to care about your website’s user experience.
Start with your customer in mind.
How should your customers use your website, product, or service? Or rather what do you want them to do? Are there multiple ways to achieve the end result you want the user to perform? These are important questions to consider how you approach the creation of your website.
Often times it’s easy to assume that you can begin in the middle with the technology and neglect the planning and user experience aspect of the process. This isn’t necessarily the best route. Steve Jobs had it right when answering a critic at a WWDC conference in the late 90’s.
“Start with the customer experience first and work backwards to the technology.”
Take your time and make it count. If you want to build something great and something people enjoy using it needs to be incredibly usable.
Make your User Interface obvious.
Okay so that sentence is obvious! But really. It’s still 2014 and how many websites still have very confusing UI. I understand that not everyone is a designer but this is an important detail for conversion.
With consideration to user experience it can’t be stated enough that user interface has to be right for the user and aides the user to become a customer by obviously bringing them to the point where they need to go next.
Great user interface, will help the user to accomplish their task efficiently as possible. The look and feel is obviously important, the core of a great UI is function: in terms of navigation, the UI should be intuitive to the point of being invisible. As soon as a user gets lost, or can’t work out where to go, the UI has failed.
In conclusion. These might seem like obvious things for the successful business. We may be investing heavily in these services but it’s also important to remember the customer and their experience. Most importantly the user experience that your website or product provides for customers and users alike.
This is why you need to care about your website’s user experience.
I was featured on the Matt Report today. What is the Matt Report? It’s a WordPress business podcast for entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers. Matt and his team have put together a fantastic offering of resources for WordPress companies and have a premium offering in addition to great free content. Check out the video archive below from today’s episode of the Matt Report.
It’s been said that humans don’t always make decisions based on logic. We make decisions based on feeling. On emotion. How does said thing make us feel?
When you’re on a website and you are somewhat interested in a product you can’t deny that how the item is presented it causes you to feel a certain way. Case in point: Apple. They commonly tell stories about how you could use their products to create incredible experiences and (seemingly) accomplish things you wouldn’t be able to do without their products.
This causes the user to understand that Apple is not trying to cram a product down their throat but allow the customer to see the potential of their story being told with one of these amazing devices. Now what does this have to do with User Experience Design? Or better yet, User Experience Design for Emotion?
There are some key items to consider when designing for emotion. Some trends are present on many newer websites. But rather than following the trend it’s important for you to know why you’re designing and what emotion you want your user to feel.
This is the key for any user who is unfamiliar to your company or website. Can they trust your product, your service, or your company for that matter? This is an important question to ask yourself. Trust is everything to convert a visitor into a customer.
Here are a couple items to consider to build trust for your visitors.
Use pictures of your team.
Trust is something that is formed between real human beings, but on the World Wide Web a website sits in the middle of that relationship.
-Shaun Cronin – Tutsplus.com
I can’t stress this enough. The web or your customers don’t need to see another stock photo of people sitting happily at their desks in suits. Take the time to create a team photo that is a good showing of your environment as a company. This will allow the user to connect and visualize who they will be doing business with.
Be Social Proof.
Social proof is a psychological concept which states that people tend to follow the lead of other people and look to others for guidance. If others have indicated something as safe, an individual will be much comfortable in trying it themselves.
Social media has changed how we go about doing business on the web. Customers and critics alike are very much willing, to share their experiences instantly (good or bad) with all of their friends, family, followers, colleagues and acquaintances on social networks.
This is why many brands have adopted a strong social media presence to allow their products and services to be ready to combat bad feedback with other helpful and great information.
Of course these are barely scratching any of the surface. But they are important items to consider while creating user experience design for emotion. I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below or if you’re in need of any help we’d love to chat.
It’s great to be back at WordCamp Austin. Big thanks are in order to all of the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and speakers. We always enjoy being able to spend time with our friends in the WordPress community and make new friends as well. This year has been special since we’ve gotten the whole team together for a meet-up.
Until next year!
I am glad to be back at WordCamp Austin again this year and to share about my thoughts on User Experience and design. This is a crucial skill for all of who create websites and products for people using WordPress. Below are my slides and you can feel free to download them or share them with whomever you’d like.
Also be sure to leave a comment or send a question if you have one. I’ll leave a link to my e-mail and my twitter handle below.