Your business’ website is one of, if not the, main ways that customers interact with your business, so making your website customer-friendly is critically important for your business to succeed.
Some of the fundamental principles on web usability, or user experience, as it is called involve making things easy to find, using clear navigation, and being consistent. Here are some handy tips for satisfying your online customers.
Better Web site navigation customer experience
Navigation is probably the most important part of making your site customer-friendly. If you’re creating a new website, take the time to lay out each section of the site and think about how each part should link together (one technique is to use post it notes to represent each page and rearrange them while you think).
Good navigation allows users to decide which parts of the site to visit, rather than forcing them to go where you want them to go. The site’s navigation should match up with the sorts of tasks users will perform on the site. Create a site map that is easy for customers to find and that clearly shows where each page is and it contains. Another aspect of good navigation is to make it possible for the user to easily get out of wherever they are. This can be accomplished by making the site header a link back to the main page, a prominent “log out” button, or bread crumbs.
Think of the mobile customer experience
Mobile-first design is a relatively new design philosophy that is based on the concept of designing a website that works for mobile devices and then scaling the site up to work on PCs and larger screens. Since there are 1.2 billion mobile users world-wide, more people are accessing the Web via mobile devices.
About 25% of people are “mobile only,” meaning that a smart phone is their only device for accessing the Internet, and all those mobile-also people still use phones to access the Web. This is where mobile first design comes in: it uses the concept of “progressive enhancement” to make sure that a fully functional website can be viewed and used on mobile devices and that this website can be gradually enhanced as it is scaled for tablets or PC screens.
It might sound weird to start with designing for mobile, but in generally, sites designed with limited screen space or other user limitations in mind are designed more gracefully and will work for a larger percentage of customers than a PC-first design. Plus, most mobile first designs look good and are very readable on a larger screen, which is customer-friendly in its own right.
Testing is part of great customer service
Testing is another great way to make sure that your site is as customer friendly as you think it is. After working through navigation and designing with a mobile first attitude, recruit users for testing. User testing is one of the best ways to make sure that your website will be customer-friendly. Watching users react to your site can be a truly eye-opening experience.
To do user testing, create several tasks that are representative of what you want users to do when using your site. Have the user describe what he or she is doing and why he is doing it and make notes about what you see the user doing as well (often what the user does is more revealing than what he or she says). It can be beneficial to contract a testing firm to conduct usability tests because they will know what to look for and be able to interpret the results and translate them into ways your website can be improved.
Customer engagement is the ultimate goal for any business Website
Engagement for users is also a part of having a customer-friendly website. Most customers now expect that websites have some ability to interact, either via comments, a Twitter feed, or maybe even a form. Think about your business and what form of interaction will be meaningful for the website.
Consider enabling users to submit product reviews and have a mechanism for users to vote for or promote reviews they found useful. Use videos that show things like how to use the product and encourage customers to submit their own videos to your site. You can also engage customers by keeping your content fresh; relevant and current information is the best way to keep customers happy with your service.
The most important thing to consider when trying to create or improve a customer-friendly website is to take as many pains as possible to make your site functional, simple, and pertinent to both new visitors and loyal customers alike. Show that your number one goal is to provide the customer with what they are looking for in the most convenient way you can.