A website is one of the key interfaces for a business, serving as a vital touchpoint for users.
According to recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 87.9% of adults in the UK use the internet, with almost all adults aged 16 – 24 being classed as recent internet users.
In this digital era, a website is more than just an online channel – it’s a powerful indicator of the level of service your customers can expect.
That’s why ensuring that a business’s digital presence is as seamless and user-friendly as possible is key to building customer relationships that last.
There has long been the misconception that in order to succeed, businesses must be creating new apps or investing in new, cutting edge technologies.
However, this is simply not the case and by taking this approach businesses can lose sight of what they are actually trying to achieve. Businesses need to ensure that their website is providing a great user experience before they start exploring other channels.
Steps to success
There are three key areas that a website must encompass in order to ensure that it is user friendly, and provides relevant information.
First, it should be uncluttered. Although it’s dangerous to confuse the terms ‘user-friendly’ with ‘simple’, it’s true that an uncluttered interface plays a starring role when you’re putting your users first.
This can take the form of, scrollable menus, and icons and toolbars that are visually striking and easy to understand.
Second, the user must be able to navigate it seamlessly.
It needs to be as intuitive as possible to work through, requiring a logical layout, concise and readable language, along with toolbars, buttons and menus that set the stage for a user journey that is pain-free.
Once these two challenges are addressed, businesses need to ensure that the website is functional across multiple devices.
These days, a user-friendly website has to feature crisp graphics and visuals when viewed on a desktop, but equally must be able to load quickly and employ simple navigation when a user is browsing on a smartphone on the go.
Sites also need to cater to tablet users who use touch navigation instead of a mouse.
The proof is in the pudding
Squiz worked with the London Southbank University (LSBU) to enhance their website.
The team at LSBU needed to provide all of the necessary information in an engaging manner.
However, it consisted of 286,000 distinct URLs, distributed across 130 domains and sub-domains.
With so many different pages and contributors, LSBU was faced with a diluted brand and disjointed service for the user. This meant that Sitemorse, the independent digital insight provider, had ranked the LSBU website 179th spot nationally in their league table of higher education websites.
To solve this problem, the external-facing website was transformed to make it student first.
Clear workflow processes and a sturdy infrastructure was implemented. Keeping LSBU’s online footprint on-brand, there was no longer a need for hand-coded pages and time consuming updates were eliminated.
Content is now simplified through a central governance structure, educating and allowing all teams to schedule updates themselves through an automated system.
This ensures that rich, engaging content flows throughout the website, making the user experience simpler and also more informative and useful.
As a result of this activity, the site came 1st in 2016 in the Sitemorse ranking of Higher Education and Further Education sites, and ranked 2nd for all websites worldwide by Sitemorse.
LSBU also completely surpassed their target of 40,000 visitors per month to their site, resulting in a 13% application conversion rate.
With the average adult internet user spending over 20 hours per week online, it is vital that businesses ensure that their primary interface is the best it can possibly be.
Whether you’re attempting to increase visitors per month to the site, like LSBU was, or drive more sales, like an online retailer or charity might be attempting to do, the website needs to provide timely and relevant information.
It cannot be a second thought and requires dedication, both in terms of development and maintenance.
Sourced by Stephen Morgan, co-founder of Squiz