Although my blog posts seem to always revolve around DIYs and whether or not it’s ok to wear black and brown together (and it totally is!) I wanted to change my tune for this particular post and focus on the subject that takes up the large majority of my life: Marketing. I don’t talk about my professional life and expertise a lot on californ-ia but wanted to share some thoughts on a topic I’m quite passionate about and have spent the past 12 years devoted to. Website User Experience. So without further ado, I give you UX – The Universal Language…
When poised with the question, “What is the Universal Language?” the hopeless romantic in me would say Love. Period. Drop mike. Regardless of background, native tongue or location in the world, love is the one language that every person on Earth can understand without translation. Love, my marketing friends, is the one true Universal Language.
Or is it?
When tasked the other day to analyze a specific service on a client’s competitor site (which just happened to be in Russian, to which I don’t speak a lick of) I will tell you that although I understood practically nothing on their website, I could easily navigate and find almost all of the information I was searching for.
Mind you, I couldn’t read their introduction or mission statement—but it was clear what kind of company it was. I couldn’t pronounce the services they offered, but their iconography led me to the details I needed. Their imagery was impactful. Navigation clear. So was I able to pick up fluent Russian in a moment’s notice or was it that I had been trained on a different type of language? Perhaps something a little more Universal?
UX, or User Experience, has become the life-blood of website architecture and design. It is the way in which a website user interacts with its products, services and systems and encompasses the ease of use and the site’s overall efficiency. In short, UX is the language we use to understand a website.
Users today expect a specific User Experience and, like learning any language, have spent years developing this proficiency. This self-taught proficiency is what UX professionals spend so much time harnessing, all to create the most efficient and effective pathway to the end goal: conversion. Whether it be the title or placement of a navigation item or the on-state rollover effect on a call-to-action, each and every site element must be strategically determined and placed to provide users with the language they have taught themselves to expect. It is our job as marketers to be fluent in our user’s anticipated actions.
When analyzing a site’s UX, there are a few rules one should try and follow.
Remove the guess work and utilize your metrics
You may think you know what your clients are after, and there is a good chance that you do, but the proof is in the analytical pudding. Use your analytics to understand your audience and their habits and then use that data to everyone’s advantage.
Understand your customer’s journey
Identifying the flow in which a user travels your site, from the first point of entry to either contact or purchase, is essential in establishing an effective UX. Chances are you have multiple audiences accessing your site. Walk through how each of them would ideally navigate your site. Does it make sense for each group? Understanding your user flows will help you determine and remove any obstacles between your viewers and conversion.
Test your site experience and test it some more
Many clients will launch a site, pat their agency partner on the back and then disappear into the mist until the next sexy web design fad comes along. Launching a website and leaving it to chance is a stake in the heart when it comes to UX. Use your analytics, talk to and survey your clients/customers, and always be trying to understand what site elements can be improved upon.
It is clear that UX plays a major part in our everyday lives. It impacts how your customers interact and engage with your brand. It is a predominant factor in lead generation and conversion. So whatever language you find to be universal, I urge you to become fluent in your site’s UX. Much like love, it’s how we communicate with one another.