Ever since companies have gone online, it’s become a constant struggle to keep audience engagement high with the brand going up. People are becoming pickier with how they spend their time, and they’re all too eager to click away from a company website if there’s even a cursor hovering sound they dislike. Thinking of new ways to tie in web design with user experience has become a search for the proverbial Holy Grail. And in this article, we’ve decided to share a few of our own findings.
Before working on driving user engagement, you should know exactly what your website has to offer so far. There are so many factors that affect a user’s interest and participation online. Website design needs to do more than just make the company look professional and make the pages look smooth. It needs to influence the user’s subconscious in order to engage them. This is usually achieved with eye-catching visual design and a simple, smooth user interface.
However, according to Scott Gould, users truly get engaged when a website can grab their attention on several different psychological levels. The process should lead them from being aware of you and your brand, through identifying with the product or service, to subscribing to your message and goals.
Test and Improve
Take your current website and play around with it. Click everything you can and analyse it. Get an outside opinion from someone unfamiliar with it. It is the only way to test how user-friendly your website is. Try asking the following questions:
- Where do your eyes first land?
- What is the colour contrast like?
- Is the search bar visible?
- How many steps does it take you to find what you need?
- How long does it take for the pages to load?
- Are there certain areas that are misleading, and look clickable, yet they’re not?
The best way to learn and improve is to have a critical eye and test every iteration of your design with the target audience.
Numerous cases have shown that subtle website animations improve user engagement, especially with call-to-action buttons. They can subconsciously motivate the visitor by endorsing certain behaviour. For example, buttons that wiggle or bounce when you hover your cursor over them, animated letters after signing up, or shaking warning letters when users miss filling out a box. Moreover, these tiny animations leave an impression of a professional company that provides users with a smoother, more visually engaging experience.
Depending on your brand, and the industry you’re in, you should have an idea of what kind of navigation your target audience prefers. A clothing brand will have a landing page resembling a catalogue and a simple, efficient checkout page. Companies such as Amazon focus on user reviews to drive their engagement. Website navigation is crucial for user experience.
Ensure that your visitors have an easy time finding what they want. Search bars are useful, but usually used by people who know what they are looking for, or can’t find something through regular browsing. Others will want to look through, like they would with a catalogue, looking for relevant information. Complex navigation makes them leave the website fairly quickly, no matter how sleek it looks.
Colours are another important aspect where design plays a huge role when it comes to influencing the users’ subconscious. Again, the colour scheme depends on the kind of message you’re sending and the service or product you’re offering. But even with that in mind, be analytical about which colours should be used where, how much space they will take up, and whether they clash with other colours.
It has been proven that certain colours influence people’s judgment. Men appear to be more responsive to blues and greys, green is seen as a healthy colour (due to its use in medicine imagery), while white emphasises cleanliness and style, and so on. This is why it’s of note that your design team researches colour theory in marketing, and learns from larger companies.
Lastly, don’t forget about website optimisation, even though it sounds like such a minute aspect of building a website and improving engagement. We’re in 2019, and most of the traffic comes from smartphone users. A website that is not mobile friendly takes a long time to load, or displays broken links and pages, causing impatience and frustration.
Ultimately, whatever design you decide to go for, make sure to optimise it. A simpler version of your website that runs smoothly on smartphones is a must if you want to drive more traffic.
If you can, make sure you also get someone to design an app that will appeal to your customers who are on the road and like to have instant access to your offers.
In the End
The way design will affect user experience and engagement depends largely on the type of brand you own. That aside, the keynote to keep in mind, regardless of the business you’re in, is that people want simple navigation, colour schemes that draw them in, and a dynamic user interface that makes website-browsing fun. Users will come to you with a specific search in mind, but it is up to you to give them more than what they need. It is the key to getting them invested.