A step-by-step guide to creating an engaging digital experience
by James Hilton
In order to be effective, websites need to be multifunctional in design. They need to be built like a house: protecting against the elements, providing a comfortable living space with ample storage, meeting basic needs, etc. Your website should be designed to improve user acquisition, lift engagement and help you retain customers.
It’s science and psychology combined with art. Your team should focus on several different elements to create an interactive experience that directly engages the target audience. Here are 10 steps to follow while refining the user’s online experience.
1. Focus on user types, not buyer personas
Buyer personas are primarily designed to align marketing messages and ad copy. To create the ideal user experience, you don’t need to know what “customer Lisa” specifically likes or what her pain points are. However, you do need to know the user types you’re targeting and how they browse and shop, which devices they use, and how they find and use your products. Create your experience around those user type segments rather than buyer personas.
2. Create simple experiences
Customers should feel engaged immediately. Keep your interface clean and simple and embrace white space. This invites them to explore your site on their own rather than forcing them to find what they’re looking for among cluttered designs with too many options vying for their attention.
3. Design like Fisher-Price
When you’re refining the user experience, aim for something that feels like you’re interacting with oversized Fisher-Price toys. This means creating large elements with simplified designs, clear copy that even a child could understand and actionable, concise directions (and calls-to-action).
This kind of experience works perfectly on any device, especially on mobile where larger elements make for easier navigation.
4. Design for limited real estate
Any time you’re creating a user experience, you should ask yourself if this is how you’d want it to function on mobile. How would it look on a smartphone versus a tablet? If you’re designing on a desktop, you have to carefully consider how it might translate in a mobile setting.
You can guarantee a better experience by designing for mobile users first, ensuring compatibility and a more engaging experience overall.
5. Don’t trust your feelings
Never assume that your user experience has reached perfection simply because you personally think it looks great and it did well when you put it through its paces in a test environment. How you or your team views the experience might be wildly different from a customer who sees it for the first time.
Always test the experience with outsiders. There are a number of services that test your user experience with actual consumers. Their comments, responses and activity are recorded during the interaction with your site and/or app so you can review feedback and make necessary changes.
6. Mix up your content
People are engaged in a variety of ways, and some respond better to certain types of content than others. Through testing, you can find the right balance between deeply engaging video or animations, images and written content on your product pages and blogs.
Continue to refine, diversify and test your content with audiences to see how variations in your content change engagement levels. You may discover that static images are less effective, but animation and live video win with your target audience.
7. Make the copy sing
You’d be hard-pressed to develop an engaging user experience that didn’t utilize copy in some way. Whether you use minimal copy or long-form content, you need to make sure it’s compelling and hooks the user to stay engaged.
Every word should serve a purpose by moving prospects through the experience toward a conversion.
8. Integrate social
Make it easy for your audience to promote products, contribute content (like reviews and thoughts) and interact with other customers within your funnel. Amazon does this through Q&A segments as well as comment sections. Social proof goes a long way toward improving engagement and conversions with prospective customers.
9. Personalize the experience
Make customers feel valuable by directly asking them for feedback while they’re on your site. Rather than slapping customers with an opt-in while they’re trying to leave, consider creating an exit intent survey that asks them to answer a couple short questions on the experience. Use these customer insights to further improve the UX of your site.
10. Offer customization
Customization in any form is a large part of personalizing the user experience to make it more engaging for each customer. This could involve allowing a user to customize the visual experience of the site (such as layout options and dashboard elements within an online community) to customizing the products they purchase. It allows the user to own their part of the experience with your brand, which will encourage them to return to “their space” in the future.
July 7, 2017
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