The user experience has changed over time. In the early days of the internet, people had to wait an eternity just for one page to load. The situation gets even worse if someone is hogging up the telephone line. You simply could not get anything done!
Today, the internet has evolved. Your phone line isn't going to interfere with your connection anymore. The result of a faster internet meant that users would demand more and demand they did. Users were no longer satisfied with websites simply being websites. They wanted to have a website that was functional and would adapt to how they read.
One user may be reading from their desktop while another user may be reading from their smartphone on their daily commute. The website's capability to adapt is only one part of the ever-changing user experience.
The internet today has users asking for a lot more than just an adapting screen You would need a few features such as the ones mentioned below:
1. An Organized Website
One of the most important features to give users a better experience is an organized website. Users can view a website better with the help of the following:
- Boilerplate Pages
- Bread Crumbs
- 3-Click Rule
- Easy to Find Content
- Shallow Site Navigation
a. Boilerplate Pages
When you have a sale in business, the best items are usually shown in front so that customers can immediately see the best of the bunch. Boilerplating acts the same way. Google does not grab pages from the basement unless the feature is a foundation of your website such as a footer. Websites should feature their best pages on top like the storefront displaying the best products.
b. Bread Crumbs
Website owners may know how every nook and cranny of their website works but, users do not know how your website operates unless you show them. Many e-commerce websites show breadcrumbs so that users find their way back easily as Hansel and Gretel did in the fairy tale. Users would not get lost finding their way back from point a to point b.
Take for example a website that sells superhero-themed merchandise: You want to buy a piece of headwear from the popular Avengers movie series.
- You visit the website and click on the banner featuring The Avengers Merchandise
- After you click on the banner, you are lead to a menu of items you can choose from.
- You click on the page showing the headwear for sale.
You will probably see a short breakdown of how you got to the page somewhere on the website. In this product's case, you will find the breakdown on the upper right. You can see that you clicked on the Avengers Endgame topic and you later visited the page that showed the baseball cap. That's how breadcrumbs work. Users are able to keep track of where they came from on a website.
c. 3-Click Rule
Do you remember those home shopping commercials promoting cooking in three easy steps? Well, a website's 3-click rule acts in a similar way. Make your website as accessible as possible by applying the 3 click rule.
- Click on the Menu Bar and you will see a list of subjects (1st Click)
- Choose a specific topic after reaching the category you chose (2nd Click)
- You reach the article of the topic you wanted (3rd Click)
d. Easy to Find Content
Making your content easily accessible should be a priority as a website owner. Your focus should be on getting users to stay on your website for as long as possible. They should be able to go from point a to point b without any problem. Don't make your website confusing for users because you're missing the opportunity to gain more viewers. Follow the 3-click rule so that users would not have a difficult time going from point a to point b.
e. Shallow Site Navigation
Think of your website like your bedroom. You want everything to be easily found whether it's your wallet or your notebook. Every object can be found without any difficulty. Your website should be organized the same way. Organize it like a clean bedroom. Users should not experience difficulty looking for a specific item on your website.
Once you have your website organized, the next step is to make sure that the website is readable. An important phrase to take note of is that users don't read. They browse. Users want to get highlights of the content they read to save time. Readers would prefer to receive their content in short, concise form such as:
- Bullet Points
- Proper Headers
- Inner Linking
The human attention span has decreased over time. Humans' attention span now lasts for 8 seconds, shorter than a goldfish! People are trying to sell to goldfish now so bullet points are critical in getting a message across.
The proper usage of headers can divide a long paper into different sections and readers can simply skip to the part they want to read or make their reading experience easier by dividing it into different sections.
Headers can result in the following effect:
- General Topics can be preceded by more detailed topics
- The H1 header is used to give readers an idea of what an article is all about. You will always find the H1 header on top of the page to show the breakdown from general to specific
Build a foundation with the help of inner linking. One page of your website can be used to support another page and that will make your website stronger.
- Users can go from Point A to Point B easily
- Users won't be limited to visiting a single page on your website
- Website owners can highlight specific pages so that users would know where to go first.
- Owners can show how organized they are with an organized website.
Internal linking is like the different members of any sports team. Each member knows what their role is and sticks to that function to ensure the team's success.
3. Security Markers
The safety of user data has become a hot topic as the internet becomes more advanced every day. Before the internet became what it was today, the user's information was limited to online chat rooms and e-mail.
The present day is a completely new game for security as users share their credit card information to different apps for the convenience of making a purchase online. Users need to take a look at certain symbols to ensure that their data has a lesser risk of being compromised on certain websites.
One of the best ways to make sure your data will not be compromised is with the help of the SSL Certificate or the Lock Symbol to the left of your address bar.
You can see the Real Salt Lake soccer team website with the lock symbol found to the left. The symbol gives fans assurance that their data has a lesser chance of being compromised by malicious software. The team likely got the help of SEO service in Utah to ensure fans that their data won't be put in danger when ordering tickets through the team website.
Google even made the inclusion of an SSL certificate as a factor in ranking on the search results. Using layman's terms, if your website does not have the lock symbol then your page will be placed lower on the search results page. Be careful about applying the SSL on your website.
Applying the certificate incorrectly could result in your website having two versions: One that is secured and another that is unsecured.
Besides the application of SSL certificates, another tip to give your users a better viewing experience is the act of making your website load faster with the help of three factors:
- Hosting videos vs embedding videos
- Applying proper image sizes
- Only using necessary plugins
Embedding vs Hosting
Think back to the time before YouTube existed. Watching videos took an eternity to load. One of the reasons behind the slow loading is the fact that videos used to be hosted and not embedded. What's the difference? Hosted videos are those movies that you upload directly to your page and take an eternity for viewers to load.
Embedded videos are the movies that you upload to another service and simply copy and paste a code to make the movie viewable on your website. YouTube is a popular example of a website that is dedicated to holding videos which you can embed on your website to prevent the website from loading slowly.
The screenshot above shows a video YouTube, one of the most popular video-streaming sites that are dedicated to hosting videos so your website doesn't have to host them. Your website can save on loading time by embedding the video from YouTube because it no longer has to bother with hosting the video.
Applying Proper Image Sizes and Formats
Having the right image is not enough to get your website loading quickly. Placing images on your website definitely helps but, you also want to have websites that load quickly to keep users browsing your website. As a website owner, you can choose from the following formats to bring out the best quality from your images:
- JPG: JPG is the format you will see the most for a lot of the internet. You can get a quality image without sacrificing loading time by having a large file size.
- GIF: GIFs are the most commonly used format to take certain clips from videos. Users will take a clip from a video, remove the audio and, put the clip on an endless loop.
- PNG: PNGs are files with large sizes but, the quality of the image is at its highest in the format.
Only Using Necessary Plugins
Plugins are similar to the accessories you put on your car. You don't always need them. Sometimes, you put accessories on your vehicle as part of a show. Using a plugin is similar to a car accessory. Some plugins serve a purpose such as a dash cam. Other plugins don't really serve a function every day such as a rear spoiler. You can use the spoiler for racing but, do you race every day? Think of the plugins on your website the same way.
Some plugins simply get in the way of a functional, rapid-loading website. We can also use the example of plugins with a company merger. When companies merge, there will inevitably be redundancies in roles. As the owner of the company, you have to cut down on employees because your company doesn't need two people serving the same purpose.
5. Mobile-Friendly Pages
Mobile-Friendly Pages are the piece de resistance of any website. The mobile-friendly function is meant to serve yourself and your user. As the website owner, you want to make sure that your website can be seen properly on different platforms. Your desktop can view your website in one way while your smartphone can see the same content of your website but, in a different manner.
Let's take a look at the popular micro-blogging website Twitter. There is a desktop version of the website that is available and, it also has a mobile version that adapts to the size of your phone.
On the desktop, your Twitter page would be wide and spread out with all the information you need.
The mobile version of Twitter would adapt to smartphone screens and have a more narrow display. Options you would see in one place on the desktop would be split into different tabs on mobile.
As a verification, you can use Google's mobile-friendly test to determine if your website is mobile-friendly or not.
- Simply go to this address: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
- Enter the website you want to have checked
- After you get the website checked, you can verify the mobile-friendliness of your website. You can even get a few tips from Google on what to do.
Click, Click, Bye!
The different strategies included in this article are just some of the ways to make your website run faster. We can compare the user experience to a convention. Any type of convention will do. The general idea of a convention is to follow a certain pattern:
- The entry and exit of attendees should be fast and easy for both organizer and customer
- Events should start and end on time with the help of an efficient organizing team
- There should be activities going on around the clock to make sure guests are entertained.
- Security teams will make sure that all attendees feel safe when moving in and around the convention center.
- Attendees have fun while attending the convention.
Think of your website the same way. You want to make sure that users will come back because going around your website is a breeze. Users should feel comfortable going around because they trust that you have their best interests in mind just like a convention. Be the website or convention that people will keep on coming back for.
Paul Staten is the co-founder and CEO of SEO Werkz , a Utah SEO Company. He is famous for delivering his twins at home and trying out for American Idol and being immediately rejected. In 6 years of Operation, Paul and his team have helped hundreds of small business earn a positive ROI in the digital space. His leadership has earned the company a place in the Inc. 500 as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the US.