Ask SCORE by Dean Swanson
A small business CEO asked me last week to give some suggestions on how to improve the performance of their website. This is a good topic as we come back from the pandemic slump and refocus our efforts of attracting an expanded customer base.
A positive user experience is directly tied to the impression prospective customers have about your brand, including the level of quality of your product or service. There are two simple steps you can take to make sure you’re giving your web visitors the best user experience possible — page load speed and quality content. Here’s how to make sure your website has both.
Creating a new website for your business is a big undertaking. It can take months to design, code, write and launch a professional site. And, that’s not to mention the maintenance of your website once it’s launched and the ongoing SEO, or search engine optimization, that must be in play to make your website discoverable online.
After working hard to bring your website to life, the last thing your business can afford to do is frustrate your visitors and drive them away due to a poor user experience.
“Good design, usability and user experience are more important than ever in website development,” shares SCORE mentor and technology professional, Matthew Krieger. “It’s a constant fight for visitors’ attention — any delay, complexity or friction whatsoever could prompt users to leave your site. I often see companies put too many barriers in front of customers — overly complex sign-up processes, excessively strict forms, surveys with too many questions, etc. These things hurt the engagement process and can result in a lost sale.”
There are two simple steps you can take to provide your website visitors with a positive user experience.
1. Pay attention to the loading speed of your pages.
Today, consumers expect an instantaneous response when navigating through a website. As a result, Google wants to see fast load times and takes page load speed into account when determining a website’s rank in a search result.
As of late 2019, Google considered a page load speed up to two seconds as acceptable, though prefers speeds under a half-second. You can check the page load speed of your website by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
According to a May 2020 article published by Nielsen Norman Group, page load delays of just one second are enough to interrupt a person’s consciousness and delays of just a few seconds are enough to seriously hurt the user experience of a website.
By working with a web developer to improve your website’s page load speed, you’ll create a better user experience and, over time, increase your site’s ranking in organic search results.
2. Create quality content that is clear and direct
Once you get your visitors to your website with a fast page load speed, your next challenge is to make sure that they do not bounce right off of your site.
The average time spent on a website by a visitor typically ranges from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. That means you have a very limited window of time to capture a visitor’s attention and provide them with information about your company, product and services.
Create content that gets right to the point of what you do and why you do it. Visitors will not spend time sifting through lots of content to find what they need. Make it easy for people to find your site, get the information they need and get in touch with you to learn more.
Learn more about how to create clear, direct and effective web content by reading this SCORE article, “How to Create Great Web Content.”
“A website’s information architecture — the art and science of structuring and presenting digital information to achieve good usability — is important to consider when developing your content. Furthermore, the need for a clear and focused message is greater than ever,” explains Krieger. “Given the overwhelming amount of digital content competing for people’s time, delivering value quickly should be a focus.”
A positive user experience is critical to the performance of your website. Employ an experienced web designer and developer with a strong grasp on the latest best practices for web design, page load speed and optimized content.
Finding the right digital marketing partner is easier when you have an experienced professional mentor, like a SCORE mentor, by your side. A SCORE mentor will help you select the best digital marketing firm or consultant out there to support your business. With your mentor’s help, you will put your website in a position to be successful as you compete for the attention of online customers.
Dean L. Swanson is a volunteer certified SCORE mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the northwest region.