Definition

A “pretty” website can be a good thing. A “pretty” website not only presents more of a trusted image, it also presents the image that you care about the users. More to the point, users thing you care about them. To amplify a positive result,

Digital User Experience is how a web visitor both perceives and interacts with web content. Another way to look at it is “Website Ergonomics.”

According to Usability.gov

User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. It also takes into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project.

Why it’s important

Primary Website Goals

Typically, websites only have basic goals:

  1. Buy something
  2. Sell Something
  3. Provide as much information as a user can gouge

With the hopes of one primary goal:
Collect as much user data as possible

  1. email address (email is still the #1 activity on the web)
  2. credit card (recurring billing)
  3. demographics

...to Search

What Search Engine Marketers and SEO specialists alike typically agree on is that User Experience is the most important element of Search Engine Optimization. For a couple reasons.

  1. Users who have a positive User Experience with your content are more likely to link to and share your content.
  2. Google’s Search Engine Evaluators (or  Search Quality Rater ) are more likely to positively review your website if they have a positive experience

...To Readership

  1. Builds trust: Users who use sites where they have a positive experience are more likely to click on another link from your website.
  2. Decreases likelihood of complaints: Users who can quickly and easily find content become readers are more likely to return.
  3. ...to Engagement

    In today’s world, websites want their content tweeted, shared, liked, pinned, submitted to reddit, emailed...Websites hope for conversations that are positive towards their primary goals. They want their content to start these conversations. Readers than can access the information they seek quickly, easily, and with as few

    ...to Longevity

    To build readership, they greatest content & SEO in the world can’t account for the fact that no one wants to stay on a website they don’t like. “You can lead a horse to water...”

    positive user experience will result in a higher user utility and a decreased likelihood that their utility for the site will diminish over time.

    ...to Revenue

    For eCommerce, very few buy from a website they don’t trust. If the site is hard to read and harder on the eyes, users have to really, really need your product to take a chance.

    ...to Goal Achievement

    User Experience should be considered a tool, a tool worth investing in . Guessing or hodgepodging the effort because thinking such effort isn’t worth it will only make it more difficult for your web presence to achieve the goals.

    Fundamental Points

    Learn this at a 101 level now. Once it’s all digested, then go back and dig deeper.

    Website Architecture

    Website architecture is the art & science of how content is structured on a website. Using menus, forms, and internal linking, websites should make it easy to provide the customers the information they seek. These goals should be discovered within a click or two.

    Call to Actions

    Anyone notice that Apple’s App Store buy button now says, “Get,” instead of “Buy.” This is an example of “Call to Action,” the message used to entice a user to perform a desired act. Testing Call-to-Actions helps website users find their desired content as well as help website owners to make it easier for users to find and (entice them to) perform said desired function (purchase, provide information, download...).

    Update: According to Gizmodo, "Apple just has a solid defense against future suits: 'Well, we never actually said it was free.' "

    Contrast

    Contrast is the ar

    t of having a piece of content look like it is a part of the website but stand out from the rest, drawing users’ attention to it. Call-to-Action Buttons are typically designed with contrast so they are easy-to-find and, even more so, click.

    Color Theory

    Color theory covers

     All facets of a web experience. It covers knowing that web colors deal in RGB (Red, Green, Blue) and Print industry deals in CMYK (Can, Magenta, Yellow, blacK, to aligning your website color schemes to the colors users will associate with your industry, and brand.

    Color theory helps keep a website looking clean and crisp. It also helps provoke the proper emotional responses, thereby collaborating with the website copy to provide and optimal experience.

    Color theory also covers Contrast & Call-to-Action.

    Brand Standards

    Most company / organizations will have their brand change over time. Colors, logos, fonts, trim lines, slogans...all of it will grow with time. Brand standards helps keep the evolution in one place. Putting all the brand standards into one guide allows everyone to stay on the same page when it comes to content and color selection. Font styles for all types of text (paragraph text, H1-H6, anchor text, email signatures...), when what variation of a logo should be used when (...what goes on print brochures, what goes on a pitch sheet vs a Twitter gravatar...)

    Keeping these cohesive will show organization. An organized brand helps the user understand that you take your content, brand, and business seriously.

    Mobile / Responsive Design

    Google decreed in Spring 2012 that all websites should be built in mobile-responsive fashion as opposed to putting the content on a mobile subdomain. ([Rant]: I guess it dawned on them that having two copies of a website takes twice as much work for the website owners to maintain and twice as much work for their spiders to cralle.[/Rant])

    Nowadays, Google will put a little tag next to your serp to state whether or not your website is mobile-friendly. They even give a little boost to those whose sites follow said guidelines.

    Aside from Google, having a mobile/ responsive site makes the content much easier to ready and access. Otherwise, even those with 20/20 vision might find themselves squinting at a site with mobile searchers.

    Note: Mobile searches account for over 45% of all searches. That means it’s nearly a coin toss - pending the age range of the users - that your content will be seen on a mobile phone or phablet / tablet.

    Working search feature

    Have you ever tried to use a search bar on a website that doesn’t give relevant results or can’t figure out that you accidentally ran two words in your search phrase together? Making sure you have a website that can access the content and account for the occasional speed and haste by which users type will go a long way in maintaining the users attention and having it the next time they need something.

    Segmented Search Bar: Having a second search bar - one that searches the category / categories from where you content comes from in addition to a search for the entire site helps users target content.

    Easy-to-use Forms

    The less information a website asks for on a form, the more apt one is to receive it.

    CAPTCHA isn’t the devil it used to be: Using Captcha is an accepted way to keep the spammers away will at the same time keeping the amount of information asked minimal.

    Menus that Make Sense

    Start with the primary information requests, then nest from there. Throwing every page and piece of information one has at the top level of a menu becomes too overwhelming.

    Ethics: User Experience vs Conversion Optimization

    You’re run into ethics questions that will center around conversion optimization. “Do we use a pop-up?” “How tricky should we get with our wording when selling something?” “Do we make them like our Facebook page before reading the content?”

    Use your best judgment. In a theoretical society, one would simply rely on their engagement and readership and not resort to conversion optimization. Sadly, someone has to pay to run the websites.

    User Experience Research

    How does one know if any of these things are working? It comes down to testing an analysis:

    Testing with A/B Tests

    “Which Call-to-Action works best?” The great news is that with an A-B test, one can test both, each on 50% of the audience. The one with the best results win.

    Also works on color schemes, price points, product offers, and headline effectiveness.

    Can be performed live, like with Google Website Optimizer, or down with your email lists and media buys - splitting the audience in half.

    Testing with Surveys

    It’s less efficient than an A/B test, but Surveys allow for deeper information to be gathered. Prepare to be patient with them.

    Surveys can be performed on websites or through social media / and (e)mailing lists.

    Analyzing with Analytics

    Every bit of a website performance can be tracked. If you want to know how many pages this person who came in from Twitter from this city went through before filling out a form, Analytics can tell you that. Google Analytics (and premium), and premium services such as Adobe Analytics track the information and provide it on segmented, real time reports.

    Examples

    1. eConsultancy.com - " 21 Examples of user experience innovation in ecommerce "
    2. uxmag.com - " 101 Things I Learned in Interaction Design Schoo l"
    3. smashingmagazine.com - "Six Common Problems With The UX Process, And Six Solutions!"

    Infographics

    Visual.ly -  UX 101: What is It?

    Final point

    Everything about a website contributes to UX: content, page loading, quality of images, quality of content, competition...It all factors in. Keep testing. Keep tweaking. Keep improving. The web is constantly changing. Keeping in sync with the changes is the only way to keep the user’s attention over time.

    1. Marketing Tech Blog - " Time Spent on User Experience Results in Higher Sales "
    2. Usability.gov - " User Experience Basics "
    3. Nielsen Norman Group - " The Definition of User Experience "
    4. Wikipedia - " User Experience "