The ultimate goal of all SEO endeavors is to attract visitors to your website. Yet all the traffic in the world won’t help you if your site is failing at conversions. The heart of any site’s ability to turn a visitor into a customer lies in the overall UX. UX is crucial aspect of SEO and Google has even been quoted as saying its “goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience.” It’s the secret to its own behemoth success, and it’s the biggest factor in yours, too.
For your site to meet the expectations of all, it must provide a unique and enjoyable encounter for its visitors that is highly intuitive and easy to navigate. Yes, the keywords, images, meta tags, and so forth are still absolutely critical, but you must also infuse elements that provide a second-to-none user experience. There is no one-size-fits-all usability solution, however; to nail this, you need to know the audience you are serving.
Here are the basic rules to help you coalesce a powerful UX with your thoughtfully crafted SEO blueprint.
1. Establish Your Goals
Before any progress can be made on site design and UX, SEOs and Web designers must come to an agreement on what the goals of the website are. This will help push forward the ideas for design, content marketing strategies, and overall success.
Create buyer personas to help guide the questions and decisions that will be confronted in order to develop a premier UX. If there is ever a disagreement, simply refer back to the buyer persona outlines and ask a few key questions about the decision you’re making:
2. UX and Website Design
The very foundation of a great UX is a great website design. Major sites like Amazon and Zappos.com are constantly redesigning and testing various elements to their sites for peak UX and, therefore, peak conversion rates. By doing this, sites like these are directly responding to consumer habits. When weak areas of the experience are identified, changes are made and tested. If folks are abandoning the process or bouncing off the site, you need to find these discrepancies, test alternatives, and get the process ironed out.
If your site is unattractive, difficult to navigate, or cluttered, you should most certainly consider a redesign. Your metrics aren’t lying to you; plug these holes or you will keep sinking.
To gain a clear understanding of which areas of your site are less than desirable, ask friends, family, employees and customers for their feedback on which portions of the site they found problematic. Additionally, websites like User Testing can provide an unbiased view of how visitors perceive your site.
3. Engage and Inspire
By now, you should understand the massive benefits that blogging puts forth toward SEO. Not a blog here or there, however, but a full-fledged content marketing effort. But there is one largely underutilized facet of this tactic that many businesses aren’t taking advantage of; the opportunity to engage with your visitors.
UX isn’t just about the design of the site, it’s also about making connections with people. By posting content on a regular basis, you open up an awesome opportunity to engage your following in a meaningful way. Answer questions, respond directly to comments, and add additional value by discussing current trends in your industry. This demonstrates that you have some serious knowledge about your niche. Don’t just start the conversation; continue to engage with those who chime in, and brand loyalty will start to quickly emerge.
4. Measuring UX
Your first indicator of unsuccessful UX is bounce rates; if you are experiencing a high level of bounces, try to determine why. What page is leading to the highest numbers? Figure out what it is about these sections that is turning off visitors. If it’s a straight up mystery, ask them. Place a one question poll on the offending page and ask about prices, content, site experience; whatever you suspect might be the culprit. Your audience always has the answers.
Your second clue is the granddaddy of all metrics: Conversion rates. If you are not seeing the volume of conversions that you aim to produce, establish why this is. Does your site guide visitors through the conversion funnel? Are there clear and prominent calls-to-action on each page? What is it that you want your visitors to do next after arriving on a particular page; and is that clear to visitors as well? You essentially want to hold your customer’s hand through the site experience. Don’t make them think; make it obvious where to go next.
Much like SEO itself, UX is a constantly evolving process. Never allow your site to become sedentary; always seek out new ways to innovate and improve. Conduct A/B tests to see if different versions produce superior results. Send out surveys to your audience to find out what they would like to see. It is imperative to generate the most outstanding user experience you can possibly muster; UX is the cornerstone of SEO success.
It may seem pretty straight-forward, but the user experience (UX) design process is frequently confused or misrepresented. Let’s talk about what it’s not first. In the past, I’ve been asked to spend two hours to “UX some wireframes.” While I wish there was a magic UX wand to allow me to do that, creating a great user experience does not equal “doing some wireframes,” and it’s certainly not something that happens with the snap of a finger.
There is also a big difference between expert-led best practice design and user-centered design. There are many excellent designers out there who have a great grasp of best practices in design, but every product is different, and without focusing on UX from the outset, the output you’ll get is likely to be akin to a flashy but generic, ill-fitting suit. A great user experience is tailored. It’s important that you know what you’re asking for and what impact that has on your outcomes.
UX also is not market research. Market research often looks at demographics and attitudes. While that detail can be helpful to an organization, it is not nearly as helpful as understanding behaviors, needs and goals for solving design problems.
Fifteen years ago, the field of usability emerged to fix the pain points of the nascent user interfaces of the digital age. Today, having an interface that is merely “usable” is table stakes. UX design encompases consideration of culture, emotion, context and behavioral models, and it looks for results that summon emotions like empathy, surprise and delight. UX is so much more than just usable.
To get there, it’s key to understand that UX design is a process. It is an iterative process which lays a groundwork through customer insight research, best practices, competitive landscapes, metrics analysis, business analysis and a variety of other activities to create an understanding of both the business and the behaviors, needs and goals of customers. Like a pyramid, every phase and activity provides a solid foundation for prioritizing and design decision-making in the next phase.
User experience design is not just about making something shiny. The outcome is a rational and justifiable final product that sets your business up for success.
If you’re considering working with a UX agency, there is one important question you need to ask: is your organization ready to collaborate? Working with a UX design agency is transformative for many organizations and requires collaboration not just with the agency but across your own company with stakeholders you may not have worked with before. Your customers don’t care if organization is siloed. They expect a cohesive and integrated experience. The goal of the UX design process is to help you get there.
Microsoft has just unveiled a whole new product named Windows Holographic. It’s a VR helmet that allows a system to overlay holograms over our physical reality.
The company is pushing the product as a means for professionals to visualize in new ways, as means for entertainment and as obviously something that will change the way we interact with machines and our world.
While Holographic is a set of APIs embedded in all Windows 10 builds, HoloLens is the actual device that will take advantage of the system. HoloLens will launch “in the Windows 10 timeframe”.
The VR headset features see-through lenses, advanced sensors, spatial surround sound, internal CPU and GPU and whole new “holographic processing unit” and it’s all wireless. It doesn’t even require a connection to a PC or another device!
Alongside Holographic and HoloLens Microsoft is also launching HoloStudio that allows users to create their own holograms.