We’ve all been there–checking out a website, clicking on links, reading content, and looking at pictures and suddenly we realize that (gasp) we’ve wasted 30 minutes on
a site (a web designers dream come true). So, what do these websites have that others don’t? What keeps a vistor engaged in a website and keeps them away from the little x in the upper-right hand corner?
Lucy Barret, front-end WordPress developer and team lead, believes she knows the answer and it’s not just about optimizing performance anymore. In an article Handy Tips for Improving Web UX for Better Conversion Rates”, Barret points to 7 website strategies which will help keep your user engaged.
- Make Content Talk
- Stick to the Familiar
- Grab and Hold Attention
- Keep Sincere Reviews
- Leverage Mobile Responsiveness
- Offer Consistent Experiences
- Use Smarter Testing Practices
Sure, we are a generation of website skimmers, but we also enjoy engaging and interesting content. Once a user skims the website, what is going to keep him or her there? Barret says that web designers often see content as filler. In effort to sound professional, designers will use overly flowery and formal language. For example:
“This morning, I presented sustinance to my biolgical offspring in which they ingested less than or equal to one quarter of the aforementioned sustinance.”
“This morning, I fed my kids and they barely ate anything.”
Which sentence would you rather read?
This simply means to appeal to the users’s confirmation bias (a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions). Users will stick with what is familiar and comfortable. Websites that look confusing or cluttered will turn a user off. So, keep it simple, stupid!
Barret suggets that after you put the user at easy with a familiar layout/design, then you can grab their attention. She recommends using visuals for this. The old adage of “show” don’t “tell” works as well for web design as it does for literature.
I don’t even have to tell you that an octopus is really good at camouflage. The above picture does a better job at showing you that.
Simply, don’t pad your reviews. Users would much rather read a few negative reviews than find out that some reveiws were less than truthful. But, then again, that goes for life in general. Honesty is attractive.
These days more and more people will access your website through a tablet, phone, or other smart device. It is time consuming, but good practice dictates that you test your website’s
responsiveness on other devices. These days you don’t even have to physically own these devices. A lot of apps and plugins have ways to test what a website would look like on different devices. For instance, Chrome has a plugin for responsiveness testing which can be found here.
Barret reminds us that “engagement is part of the user experience, and it doesn’t end once the prospect makes a payment or fills out a form. Saying ‘thank you’ is a good start and basic etiquette.” Don’t forget your user once they’ve done what you want them to do. Remember, you want them to return! Keep them engaged in your website even after a purchase.
Finally, test, test, test!! Prioritize your tests according to you websites’s specific needs or even your user’s specific needs. Barrets says “For example, engagement is a higher priority for sites with more interactive elements, while high cart abandonment rates mean you need to test the cart and checkout process before anything else.”
A great example of Barret’s website design tips is The NorthFace’s website. When you first see their website, the layout looks familiar. The cart and the search bar is where you would expect it to be (upper-right hand corner) and the navigation menu is right across the top. The pictures are bright and engaging, and you can almost feel the warm of the jacket in the frigid landscape. Content is brief, but engaging. I ran the website through my Chrome responsiveness tester, and the site did really well at resizing for mobile devices.
My one complaint is the pop-up window that appears about 5 seconds after looking around the website.
I absolutely hate pop-ups (even worse are the ones that have a choice between “Yes, I want to be healthy and save money” and “No, I don’t care about my physical or financial health”). I’ve been known to leave a page simply due to these kinds of pop-ups. I know I’m not the only one who finds pop-ups annoying. If this was my website, I’d definitely get rid of that. It’s such an unwelcome interruption.
Questions? Comments? What do you think of Barret’s article and/or The Northface’s website? Send me a message below.