The Roads Are Paved with Indecisive Squirrels
Marketers must be objective, but decisive — and as emotionally devoid as Jack Reacher. There are no rights and no wrongs in marketing. It’s all shades of gray, and there are at least 49 shades of gray in the decision-making process. This is not to say that we’re barbarians. We, marketers, have rules which have stood the test of time and keep us relevant. And these rules can even be applied to website user experience (UX). Consider:
- The design rule of thirds
- The rule of 3 (Thomas Jefferson used it, as well as Steve Jobs).
- The marketing rule of 7, which states that a customer has to hear a message at least 7 times before they make a purchase decision.
Social media’s application in the rule if 7 is illustrated in the following link: https://www.krusecontrolinc.com/rule-of-7-how-social-media-crushes-old-school-marketing/ Social media offers much more bandwidth for exposure when compared to simple advertising campaigns.
The takeaway for consideration in UX design is that the design has to create zones of priority. If everything is equally weighted visually on a website, what is the priority for the visitor?
The Line Forms Here…
However, you want to be sure to mind the gap, because one area where subjectivity should be discouraged is in UX design. Consider the viewers and users of your website (not your boss) and their priorities. Potential visitors could include:
- Current customers seeking support
- Potential customers seeking information
- Buyers (e-commerce) looking for products and services
- Job seekers pursuing employment or evaluating company culture
- Competitors seeking leverage
- Investors seeking data
- Researchers looking for information
- Curious people “just looking”
How does your website address their needs? First, survey your audience. A parallel path is to benchmark your direct competitors or generic competitors in your market space(s). But don’t duplicate a poor UX just because it’s what the competition is doing.
Essentially, your priorities should be:
- User experience
- SEO (more on this in a future blog)
- A framework which supports your strategic goals
Visually appealing layout: Use the rule of thirds and visually prioritize and balance your elements. Call-to-action buttons should be clearly discernible as action buttons. Give priority to content “above the fold” (i.e., the first full screen). While visual disconnects may work to gain attention, remember that your website is an experience that people (hopefully) will see repeatedly over an extended period of time. If the website loses appeal after the second viewing, reconsider your layout.
Logical: Make it easy to use, easy to search, and easy to navigate. Make sure key functions are up-front and logical. Breadcrumbs and other design methods should support the overall logic of the site and aid in search so that the user ends up at a call-to-action button.
Functional: Ensure rapid load time, ease of navigation, and easy account management (if e-comm enabled).
Consider your gated and free content: Save the form captures for the best content, and don’t gate everything. You can score more points with your visitors by ensuring that all of your content is accurate, clear, and engaging. As your content ages, move it from gated to free or offer revised versions as premium content. (As a hint, to keep your content creators fresh, consider the fact that they have two roles: 1) staying current with your products and services and 2) staying current with the best practices in marketing.
Clear and comprehensible: Consider your customer base when posting content. Avoid jargon and abbreviations, and make it understandable. Clarity is key.
Video: According to a recent Wyzowl survey, 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool; 92% of marketers who use video say that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. The most commonly-created types of video are explainer videos (72%) presentation videos (49%) testimonial videos (48%) sales videos (42%) and video ads (42%). YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms among marketers using video (85% and 79% respectively), but LinkedIn is coming up fast as a video outlet with traction.
Message in a Bubble
There are always areas of conflict within marketing — principally, what you want to say, and what your audience wants to hear. History has proven that people are more receptive to sales when the seller listens or provides content that the buyer wants to hear — it’s the foundation of content marketing. Companies or brands that talk only about themselves are not as attractive as those that talk about their audience, and this applies especially to the user experience on your website.
An important note — Intelligent AI (which is somewhat of a misnomer) signals the end of verbal communications between the consumer and provider. Many websites no longer list phone numbers in their Contact sections. While this is acceptable to a lot of people, some product and service issues cannot easily be solved by chat or text, and overreliance on either technology can be perceived as a poor user experience by some customers.
Another area that should be examined for UX is the website’s Careers or Employment section. What message is the engagement process sending to potential employees?
The adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” also applies to your web presence and user experience. Maintain objectivity, and make sure the user experience is a top priority of your online development efforts.
If you need help designing a user experience, or you’d like a free evaluation of your UX, contact us for a 30-minute consultation.