User experience design—5 website strategies for brands – AdAge.com

User experience design—5 website strategies for brands – AdAge.com

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It is a good rule of thumb to assume visitors will spend somewhere between 10 to 20 seconds deciding whether to explore a website, especially if there is no clear value proposition. That’s just about the amount of time it takes to properly wash your hands, according to the CDC.
Read more: Metaverse glossary for brands
People come to a site to fulfill a specific objective. If the information they want isn’t readily available, why waste time digging through a cluttered website when they have other tabs open? Online competition for audience attention is fierce, and users are unforgiving. They will move on quickly.
When launching or refreshing a website, decisions often fall within two categories: visual design or functionality. These combined elements lay the foundation for that all-important user experience (UX).
UX determines whether visitors stay or bounce—even if you have exactly what they are looking for, be it information, products or services. Use these five principles to guide your website development to help increase traffic, improve sessions and reduce bounce rates.
With each platform utilizing its own ever-changing algorithm, some SEO-related uncertainty exists. It can certainly feel like a moving target.
One universal strategy to keep your website at the top of your most important keywords is to dedicate time and resources for regular maintenance, especially when it comes to updating content. Search engines recognize when newsrooms, blogs, FAQs and other such pages are updated. They add these factors into their equation when determining search rank.
Likewise, do not assume visitors always start on your home page. Search results can be highly specific, so making every page an entry point simplifies the user experience and minimizes friction. People also prefer scrolling over clicking, which is why window shades and jump menus are preferable
Visitors come to a site to fulfill an objective, not to hear a sales pitch right off the bat. Scale back the sales messaging and make it an enjoyable experience for visitors to go where they want at their own pace, while also showing off your assets.
Structure content and navigation around your visitors’ challenges and needs, for instance, rather than solutions or products. Put your industry knowledge and expertise on display with meaningful section titles and headlines. Skip the sales pitch and demonstrate leadership around a topic or industry. 
One emerging trend to also consider is the use of fixed navigation menus. Giving visitors a fixed menu as they scroll enables faster navigation, but can also negatively impact how content is presented, especially for mobile users. A good rule of thumb is to use a sticky menu only if you have a longer landing page and when the menu offers links to critical products and services.
Where visitors are in the buying cycle, as well as their personal preferences, will inform what types of content they seek. Some may prefer a quick video while others want an in-depth written analysis. By providing three or more content formats, particularly on top-level pages, you’re almost guaranteed to hit the mark with most visitors. These include:
Providing videos for assets such as case studies, testimonials, explainers and corporate values.
Creating interactive content to entice visitors to play with a widget, customize a solution or try out an ROI calculator.
Offering written content that’s compelling and numbers-driven (when possible)—both on the page and as a download so users can copy and paste into their research.
Everyone gets it: A website’s primary purpose is to generate and capture leads. You know this, and visitors do too. Letting lead gen drive the user experience, however, will not provide you with the quality sales targets you’re looking to capture. This becomes even more real as we prepare for the demise of the third-party cookie; utilizing owned data will be an imperative in the years to come.
An example of what not to do: Overuse of multiple pushy popup chat windows or “want to know more?” forms. While businesses might think they are being helpful or establishing a direct line of communication, visitors who want to know more will ask.
Likewise, you do not need to gate every piece of content on your website, especially sales collateral, case studies or videos. Forms create friction within the user experience, and studies show conversion rates drop significantly with each additional field. Save gating for content that is educational or genuinely useful.
It is justifiable to be proud of your website, and it’s important to recognize all the time, energy and effort that went toward creating it. Save those celebrations for within your business, however, because long build cycles and big, splashy launches are so yesterday. 
Today, launch quickly with top-level pages built out and evolving over time as you learn which content visitors engage with most. Instead of creating every page from the beginning, agree on a minimum viable site and establish internal stakeholder expectations accordingly. Select a few meaningful, actionable metrics to track site performance and keep your back-end flexible so it can be easily changed or rolled back as needed—from content to navigation and layout.
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In this article:
Charles Askew is interactive director of Arketi Group.
Dan Earle is VP of Arketi Group.

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