The Value of UX

The aim of UX is clear and not difficult to grasp- making your online experience as user friendly as possible.

The concept is solid and creating ease and accessibility for customers is always a desirable choice.

In much the same way as physical stores are carefully planned and invested in to be as easy to navigate as possible, UX helps websites drive visitors to where they need to be.

In terms of design, it can be difficult to select the flaws in your own website- you need to try and see from a users perspective at all times- imagine yourself completely new to the visuals on your page.

Before a website goes live it is advantageous to first examine your design closely for any flaws or weak areas.

It is vital to always bear in mind that a user could be checking out your website through any number of devices, whether it be tablet, laptop or phone- your design has got to be consistent and deliver the same result on every possible screen.

Finding that a website is harder to navigate through a phone than it would be a pc would be a definite flaw and could seriously damage your chances of keeping visitors on your site long enough to convert.

Visual hierarchy is determined by the way a user scans a screen for relevant information, your design should present content that informs the site visitor exactly where they need to go without them having to process all information on page.

Another solid design concept to consider is the functionality of any links or buttons on your site, the last thing you want is to direct users to broken links or to display a visual element that looks like a button but does not serve as one.

Your call to action should always be apparent and users should be directed to it on page within seconds- it doesn’t take long for people to grow weary of cluttered and vague content and elements that don’t perform as they should.

A major irritant in browsing experience can be found in the form of autoplay videos and advertisements on site, try and keep and use these elements only when truly necessary.

Make sure all the content you include on screen is valid and always ensure your design uses effective colour schemes and clean background otherwise you might hinder the users ability to recognise and process information on screen.

Creating a web site that is accessible to anyone and that has a clear call to action is a great way to reach new customers and should be regarded as an essential practise to web designers everywhere.

In an increasingly digital age, many customers take their retail needs online. The strongest reasons attributed to this choice are the convenience and the lower prices of items.

As a result- traditional offline retailers are being forced to come up with new and innovative systems for engaging customers.

In recent surveys it has been revealed that when questioned, over half of customers have a greater amount of trust in businesses that have offline and online presence.

This being the case it is a prudent and highly desirable measure for all major retailers to ensure that they can reach their customers digitally.

Finding a true balance in these modes of delivery is only going to become more key in all areas of commerce, there are natural benefits and downsides to both online and offline shopping customer experience.

In a physical store you have a more visceral experience and the tactile element involved in handling products before making a purchase will always be in demand.

On the other hand- the major benefit of conducting your shopping online will always be the convenience factor and over 71% of customers state they prefer to be able to shop any place and at anytime.

Digital commerce is all the more powerful when it is combined with well considered mobile Ux, this helps customers find similar products that they might find appealing based on their previous views and purchases.

It’s these type of personal, tailored product recommendations that can help enrich and facilitate the customers shopping experience.

In physical stores, even the most renowned and successful retailers can’t guarantee the delivery of an exceptional customer experience every time- there are quite simply too many variables and external circumstances involved.

From a marketing standpoint the great value in combining digital and physical commerce is to be found in the form of data.

For instance, a customer who pays for their shopping in cash leaves no trace data behind them once they have completed their transaction.
Loyalty cards make some difference in this scenario but even then the amount of data gathered in limited.

So basically, once that customer has made this purchase there is no way of knowing how they came to reach that decision.
Which products did they like or reject before making their purchase? These points are incredibly useful to know.

When shopping online all informational data is captured and used to generate intelligent product recommendations to customers in the future.

This information combined with transactional data from an offline shopping trip ensures this data becomes incredibly effective and powerful.

This method of tailor making a seamless online and offline shopping experience for customers certainly does not seem to be bothering most consumers either.

In fact when asked outright if this kind of personal data gathering bothered them- only 16% of shoppers said they cared about brands tracking what they searched for on site.

So, as ecommerce sites expand to physical stores to increase their growth and high street brands attempt to also conquer the digital world it is made increasingly clear that those that make a success out of both channels have a significant competitive edge in the present and future of retail.

A great way to ensure you keep your content marketing current and relevant is to make it seasonal.

Brands should take advantage of the opportunity to capitalize on holiday themed content, trends or events as it is an excellent new way to reach customers.

The result of a concerted effort to adhere to these different seasons with fresh content is greater engagement with your customer base and also an increase in site visits.

Customers might want to look up a special Turkey recipe at Christmas, or discover tips for throwing great Halloween parties or Easter egg hunts.

The timing of seasonal posts is always relevant, around two weeks before the event is advisable in most cases.

Timing is also a major factor when it comes to the theme of the pieces you are posting- when first creating build up to an event- make sure you have captured your intended audience before posting your most relevant content.

People want online information that they can relate to but if you are considering recycling any of your seasonal posts for any subsequent years then try and avoid any topical references, current event trends or celebrities as these attributes can create a time bomb in your content making it a one off.

A rule to remember if reusing seasonal content is to make sure that you at least refresh a few elements of the post.

Research is key when approaching any article or post but it is particularly vital when it comes to seasonal content and choosing a relevant topic of discussion.

This type of content and marketing is particularly valuable because it is reaching out and connecting with customers about issues involved in their everyday lives.

It is always important to take some time to come up with some search terms that tie into each individual event.

SEO naturally plays a key role in seasonal content marketing, knowing what search terms your average customer will likely use and when is incredibly valuable.

Making sure that you include these search terms and keywords in your posts will ensure your content ranks better overall.

Some design principles that can increase conversion are always worth knowing- here are just a few.

Firstly, on any page you must decide what is your most important element- heading and content are merely supporting elements that urge visitor’s attention towards your conversion goal.

The most important goal to remember is that within seconds of being on your website the user should be able to identify what action is expected from them.

Visual cues are how action is demanded of users, color psychology and contrast plays a significant role here.

A button on a website with a specific outline color can be immediately identifiable as a call to action, understanding the feeling this color conveys is all important when considering design for conversion.

Visual appearance, color and brand recognition always come out ahead when researching what influences a potential customers decision in selecting a product.

Web design is no different, and the correct contrast of included colours on a site against background is also vital, colors that clash or do not create a pleasing contrast will turn users away.

The true importance of the contrast effect is that your main element pops against the back ground color of your page.

There is no such thing as a high converting color for all, it is simply a matter of identifying which combination of foreground and background colors create the best contrast on your site.

Directional cues can be utilized to great effect and they are key way to get visitors to take notice when placed besides your conversion goal.

In products you can find a version of this directional cue in think eye tracking- packaging that contains an image of a person staring directly at the brand name or product contained within has proven more effective in drawing the attention of potential customers.

Your call to action or conversion form should be placed on white space to ensure it is instantly identifiable by users.

Recognising the value in these principles and designing a good layout sets visitors expectations for maximum conversions.

The publication and creation of online content is more popular than ever, the numbers have reached an all time high.

Despite content marketing and publication being the cornerstones of any content marketing strategy- companies soon learn that the value comes from distribution.

Businesses that adopt strategic distribution of their content have advantage in this competitive setting.

Knowing your target market, reaching out to related influencers in your field and optimizing for search and mobile are all important factors in content marketing and distribution.

Any good business should know by now that social media is the perfect amplifier, it is inextricably linked to distribution.

In 2015 we will see business fully recognize social media’s key role in any distribution model.

Through social media advertising marketers will be able to generate leads through gating the content they advertise and also increase the reach of this content.

The type of adverts that are going to be embraced online today are no longer blatant, the focus is now going to be placed on positioning advertisements strategically within great content.

This type of relevant paid content will ensure there is true value brought to the users experience.

Content marketing is the key driver of search engine rankings with SEO still playing an important role through meta tags, indexing issues, key word research, etc.

Aside from inbound links for SEO, there are still many benefits to guest blogging including all important contribution of high quality and relevant content.

This concept has necessitated thousands of site redesigns and five years in it is still a hot topic among web developers and designers.

It is a concept often associated with terms such as user experience, accessibility and content strategy.

RWD originally focused on ‘mobile first’ design ideology as in 2010 it was projected that mobile traffic would exceed desktop traffic by 2015.

Today RWD has turned into something much important than just optimizing for multiple devices.

Conveying engaging content and mobile technology- RWD is also focused on other aspects of user experience.

In 2015 the trends in RWD focus on user interaction and accessibility, these trends include high quality imaging, galleries and videos.

Despite increased quality in imaging, the minimalist aesthetic is key here- no more over crowding or large banners.

Scrolling, direct user engagement and large typography are all very focussed areas this year.

Although content is still king, the way it is presented is the key to throne- it doesn’t matter how compelling the content is if it’s not delivered well.

In any article based site you should see the utilization of responsive pathways, so basically- once you have read an article- it should be key to have a link for further reading immediately presented to you in order to keep you engaged.

The world of web design is constantly evolving, many designers think that setting aesthetic trends aside and trying to think or adopt a ‘responsive philosophy’ is the way ahead.

Welcome to Merlin Web Services. We are a small, innovative studio based in Kent and we would love to hear from you!