Design and functionality are critical for great user experience. Anyone on a mobile device, visiting a mobile unfriendly website can attest to that. Mobile unfriendliness and other design faux pas are ok if you have zero competition and the public still has to visit ie: county assessor websites but for the rest of us, bad design is an SEO killer.
In order to better understand why, let’s get to know Google a little better.
Search engines exist for one reason:
Google’s priority #1 is to return highly relevant and useful search results to users. If they don’t, they die. It’s that simple. They use millions of search queries and the associated user behavior to rank your website’s ability to deliver what searchers want. Keeping that in the back of your mind at all times will help you make the best online marketing, design, and development decisions in any situation.
User behavior metrics matter:
Metrics such as a visitor’s time-on-page and time-on-site tell Google which websites have the best, most relevant, and trust worthy content. It’s a popularity contest based on behavior. For example, reading takes longer than skimming so Google deduces more time-on-page is better. They know how many new vs returning visitors you have and use that data to tailor search results and also factor in your popularity on social media which is measured by shares, comments, and likes. In other words, there are SEO tactics you have control over such as keyword usage and linking, but user-behavior is equally important. And even though you can’t control users you can definitely influence them.
Design plays a big role in your ability to influence:
We’ve all come across websites that deliver a negative user experience but beyond bouncing and moving on have you stopped to consider what’s at the root of the problem? Is navigation difficult, is the website too wordy, too scroll-y, visually unappealing, or noisy? More often than not, we know what we don’t like… but do we know how to fix it?
The first step for better user experience is to understand your audience, put their shoes on and walk through a day in their life on your website. Pretend you’re a prospect. Think about how people view it, why they came in the first place, and what they want to know:
- Do they have a clear route to find the information they need?
- Are there multiple ways to navigate from page to page?
- Does your blog content have categories and a search option?
- Are your social media icons noticeable?
- Do your words speak to solving their problems?
- Are the visuals eye catching?
- Is the typography enhancing the design or clashing with it?
- Does the about page explain your mission as well as introduce the team?
- Does the website build trust with someone you haven’t met yet?
For a free, layperson opinion about your user experience delivered in 5-minute custom video, try Peek.
Color and user experience:
Great design is rooted in psychology and color plays a big part. Before you study up on color theory, think about your audience. It goes beyond personal preference. Some colors resonate better with women than men and cultural affiliations can significantly impact color choices too. For example, did you know that orange, yellow, and brown are most often perceived as “cheap” or that men are more tolerant of achromatic color schemes (black, white and shades of gray)? If you’re not sure where to start, we can help!
Typography and user experience:
I won't spend too much time talking about typography and fonts because we have another post that goes more in-depth into how the RIGHT typography drives more revenue, but I will say - the small details aren’t small and things like font choices impact users at an unconscious level. So, choose wisely, friends!
Navigation and user experience:
Yes, Google can read your navigation bar and follows your inline text links but for user experience, intuiting your way around a website is critical and it’s more than just well-planned navigation at the top of a page. It’s about intentionally building pathways between like information through links and visuals that evoke interest. It’s about including the right blog categories, search fields, and access to additional information by topic, alongside design elements, buttons, and call-to-actions that grab. Plus a whole lot more.
Navigation is a huge contributor to good user experience and SEO. All the important pages; about, solutions, blog, contact, and resources should be readily available and don’t forget mobile. Google is moving to mobile first indexing in 2018 and your design, how fast the pages load, and what the website looks like on small screens are now more important than ever.
Video and images and user experience:
Indexing bots read image titles and video descriptions which are important for SEO but it doesn’t mean you can whip out a boring video, post it, and expect search rankings to skyrocket.
Ultimately, visual content is eye-candy for users and a powerful mechanism for convincing, building trust with, and converting website visitors into leads which ties to user experience. The placement of these elements make a huge difference. Are they a compliment or a distraction? Do they disrupt thinking and cause intrigue or interrupt and annoy? Are they artistic and unique or a boring talking heads?
Great design works in collaboration with content to entertain and delight which then increases the chances of being found in search results. Wondering how you compare, contact us, we know a thing or two about websites, design, development, and marketing ;)