Bad user experience, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? You go online, you want to learn more about a topic, read about a product/service that you’re interested in, and do some work too.
There’s just one problem though – either the website you opened is really slow or the layout and the design are as ancient as Netscape. For the modern user, that’s a huge roadblock in the online experience and the main reason why the users leave the page and never come back.
Your WordPress website is capable of leaving a strong impression on the users. Whether that impression is good or bad, it will depend on how well you optimize your WordPress website UX.
However, optimizing your website’s UX is not a walk in the park. In most cases, not every site owner has the exact knowledge or the tools to enhance the website’s usability. But, with a versatile and user-friendly platform like WordPress, UX optimization can become easier.
What Is User Experience (UX)?
User experience (UX) is a term that speaks about the user’s emotions and viewpoints when using a certain website, product, system, or application. It involves the pragmatic, observational, emotive, and every other significant aspect of the human-product relationship. Most importantly, it involves the user’s abilities to look at systems/products as a utility that needs to be usable and efficient at the same time.
An excellent user experience is vital for your WordPress website if you want to have a design that stands out from your competitors and that your customers find absolutely delightful.
The Factors That Influence Your Website UX
According to Peter Morville, a best-selling author, and Fortune 500 UX advisor, there are 7 critical factors that affect your product/website user experience:
If your WordPress website is not useful to someone, why bother having an online presence? Non-useful websites won’t serve your target customers and you won’t be able to compete with your competitors that have websites with useful features and content.
Usability of your website is connected to the ability of the user to land on your page and perform the desired action without any problems or distractions. For example, large enough click areas, intuitive spaces where users know they can click etc.
It is crucial for your WordPress website to have an ease of use, in order for the users to feel accomplished and to have a clear, defined process for them.
Your website must be easy to find in search engines. This is closely related to your SEO, and flawless UX is one of the key factors that ensure you’ll be higher in SERPs. On your website, your products and your content must be easy to find too. Headlines must stand out, the navigation must be easy to access, the landing pages and service pages should not be difficult to spot either.
If the user can’t find anything when he/she lands on the page, how do you expect them to buy or keep reading your content?
The modern users are tech-savvy and content-savvy. You won’t get a second chance to lure them with your products/services. The user must trust you as soon as he/she lands on your WordPress website. And how can the users trust you more? With testimonials, images of your team, certificate, and industry recognition badges, and more.
This means they will stay on your website longer and the product/services/content credibility will meet its purpose. If you don’t have good UX, it’s impossible to deliver credibility.
Apple and HTC both make smartphones. They’re both useful, usable, findable and credible products. But, one cannot deny that people consider the iPhone as a more desirable product than HTC’s models.
HTC sells a lot of smartphones and they’re certainly a desirable item, but if people have it in their budget and need to choose, they’ll often go for the iPhone. Because Apple is confident that they offer the best phone in the world, and know how to brand that emotionally.
Copywriting is key here. If you know you got what your customers need, don’t sell the specifications and stats. Sell the feeling and the desirability.
The desirability of your brand needs to be conveyed within your WordPress website design, logo, images, elements, and aesthetics. The more attractive and desirable your website is, the more the users will want to come back and tell other people about it.
The website’s accessibility is all about providing good UX for users that have a hearing loss, impaired vision, or other conditions that prevent them from using the website normally. In fact, low contrast ratio, small fonts, hard-to-read text, are problems for all users.
So in general, you need to create a website that is easy to use for everyone. Currently, in most of the world, accessible web design is already inserted in the state laws as obligatory or a principle that companies need to consider when approaching the design of their pages.
When the users open your website, you must deliver value! Without delivering value, it’s impossible to convince a person to give your content some attention or money for a product/service.
The Business Effect of a Good Website UX
A good website UX is something that will pay off in the long run:
- Keep and Increase Your Web Traffic: Every millisecond is important when it comes to website speed and UX. Up to 47 percent of consumers expect from a webpage to load in less than 2 seconds. A one-second delay can result in customer dissatisfaction and increase the chances that they won’t return to your website, not to mention telling other users about the bad experience.
- Reducing Bounce Rate: By optimizing your website’s UX for success, you’ll keep users longer on your website and they’ll explore more of your content. This will result in reduced a bounce rate and in ready-made conversion opportunities for your business.
- Positive User Feedback: Good UX is what separates you apart from your competition. If you have all the right elements where they should be on your page and if there aren’t any problems, you can be sure that users will give you positive feedback, spreading the word about the experience, and sharing your page with others.
Optimizing Your WP Website UX for Success
Without further ado, here are our top tips if you want to effectively optimize your WordPress website’s UX:
1. Before You Optimize, Research
UX research is the backbone of the successful website design. To know what to analyze, how to analyze it and how to apply your insights is mandatory if you want to optimize your website UX for success. Let’s look at the following UX research techniques and how they can bring you value when you optimize your WordPress website.
This is a really straightforward concept. You need to write each element of your Information Architecture on a separate card and ask a test user to categorize them. If you want to use this technique globally, there are also numerous card sorting tools available online. It is a very easy way to gather user input data and barely costs anything at all.
For this technique to be successful, you’ll need an “expert” – UX person or someone you know that appreciates good website UX and knows how to recognize a bad UX. The process consists of the expert reviewing the entire interface and usability of your website and providing you with a constructive and critical feedback. This is an excellent way to gather insight about your UX and see the website from an expert’s point of view.
Conducting a field study can combine numerous UX research techniques in one place. It’s all about observing your target users and gauge their behavior with your website according to the environment that they’re in. This can include ethnographic research, interviews, observations and contextual questions.
This is one of the best UX techniques to learn how the user is feeling in different situations. You’ll get deeper insights into problems that users face, and as a result, you’ll find new ways of solving them.
Usability testing is a technique that can help you evaluate your website by testing it on potential users. It is all about observing users perform a single or combined tasks on your website. You watch how they do the tasks and collect data. For more effectiveness, your test users must come from your target audience.
Your user personas are a fictitious model of your ideal target users and need to be created with a focus on the traits and behaviors that they should display. They’re used to know exactly what the user expects from your website.
You can use your user research data to develop your user personas and outline a detailed portrait for your design and marketing team to help them understand user’s needs.
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2. Increase Website Speed
Just like we said above, there are no longer excuses for having a slow-loading WordPress website. It is one of the vital parts of your UX strategy. If users leave your website because they had to wait two seconds longer, it can lower the site’s ranking. Users are getting used to faster experiences, and if they don’t get the same from your website, they will leave and most likely never come back.
To check your website speed, use Google’s tool, PageSpeed Insights. This will analyze how your page performs online for mobile and desktop devices. It will give you precise information about what’s good and what’s not when it comes to page speed.
There are numerous ways to speed up your WordPress website:
- Use a Caching Plugin: A caching plugin can deal with CSS and JS files so that they don’t have to be downloaded every time the user loads a specific page from your website. Users that return to your page will have the biggest use from the caching process.
- Optimize Your Images: HQ photos have a resolution like a billboard and a size that is easily more than 5MB. Even modern smartphones generate HQ images with big resolutions. Imagine how much additional weight they represent for your WP website.
- Fix Google Maps: Make sure that the map itself doesn’t slow down your website. If the map takes more than 2MB, it can force your visitors to download additional memory that they may not be interested in or that is not in their focus at the given moment.
- Optimize Databases: When databases start to build up, slowly but surely, they’ll start to slow down your website too. Cleaning and optimizing your WP databases is one of the ways to speed up your site. If you don’t have the technical expertise to manually open and clean each database, you can always use a plugin called WP-Optimize.
- Reduce HTTP Requests: While the user waits for the page to open, the computer must send hundreds, if not thousands of HTTP requests to servers. The more requests and the more information goes back and forth, the more time it takes for the page to load.
3. Clear CTAs and Messages
It doesn’t matter what your WordPress website is about, your CTAs and messages need to be highlighted for the users to spot them immediately. You need to know where you want to guide the users’ focus as soon as they land on your page.
When the users land on the page, the CTA, and additional messages are what prompt them to action. In WordPress, CTAs often come in the form of buttons or links. To successfully guide your users to the CTAs, you have to make them clear and visible.
If you design the CTA button to be large enough but also aligned proportionally with the other elements on your website, your users will not be able to ignore it.
The CTA message or the value that you offer with it should be clear, but at the same time convincing enough to make users click the button or the link. Let’s take the Prezi’s CTA and messaging.
Their CTA is encompassed with a clear message and language, the right typography size and has a convincing tone. All the information is positioned in a way to make the visual experience easier. Visitors know what the page is about as soon as they land on it.
If you think that your CTAs are not notable enough, again, you should turn to UX testing and figure out where the friction comes from. You must know what makes the users stray away from your CTA and fix that immediately.
4. Scannable and Stylish Content
Unless you’re writing in a super-narrow legal practice niche where the audience is really into long-form paragraphs and book content, please separate the content on your website to be scannable and enjoyable to users.
When you format the content on your WordPress site to be scannable, you do the users a favor. When people land on your page, you don’t want them to have obstructions at all. An improved content scannability for the users will result in:
- Increased understanding of the content.
- Reduced task errors.
- Improved comprehension of the site’s architecture.
- Better content quality and likability.
- Reduced bounce rate.
- Likelihood of return visits.
- Enhanced SEO.
By making your content scannable, you highlight the value that you provide with it. With that, the visitors are more likely to spend more time on your page and immerse themselves in your words/messages.
Before You Format, Test the Content
What if your content is fine just as it is? Perhaps the users like the content. But, we don’t educate you to rely on “perhaps”. When it comes to user experience, everything needs to be tested over and over again. That goes for your content too.
Some of the following content scannability methods are already familiar to you from above:
- Usability Testing: Gather a small group of target users and observe them how they get around with your content. Notice how they read it, where they stop, scroll and if they close the page or not. See where the users’ attention goes and amplify that by placing your most important content elements there.
- A/B Testing: Pick two versions of the same content and test them to see which one will fare better. Again, you can do this with a group of people or use a software. Maybe one headline makes people read the article immediately and another headline turns them off. Or if an Infographic is a better alternative than an article for that title.
- Web Analytics: Implement Google Analytics and analyze the pages that got the most engagement and time spent by the users. There lies the content architecture that you can implement across the entire site. GA will let you know what you’ve done well so far in terms of content. You can boost/update your best links or develop similar topics and articles.
After Testing, Make it Scannable
After you’ve done your research, it is time to make the content scannable. Every content creator is tempted to be creative and unique with subheadings. But, you don’t want to lose the user that scans the content. That’s why you should make the subheadings clear.
Look for list opportunities within your content whitespace. If the paragraph that you want to write has no more than two sentences like the following, it’s an excellent one to be included in a bulleted list if every other next is similar.
You need to use bold or italic formatting when you want to emphasize something important in your content. With that, you can help scanners see where they should stop and focus on the “meat of the plate.”
When it’s appropriate, pull quotations into blockquotes. This will show scanners there is a critical point in your content that they need to keep an eye on.
Don’t be enigmatic when you link something within the content. Make it contextual and clear where they’ll go next if they click the link.
Writing short paragraphs is a real no-brainer advice here. Short paragraphs keep readers moving throughout the article and if your content is good enough, stay all the way to the end.
Think About Content Style
When you know that the primary goal of your website is to deliver value to your audience, you need to have a content-first approach in its design. Your content should be at the center of the design of each page and every other opportunity to insert whitespace or other elements should depend strongly on the content’s positioning, design, and size.
You need to style your content, not just to make a blog post look beautiful, but also to make sure that it doesn’t conflict with the other elements of your page. There are a few things that you need to focus on when you style the content of your WordPress site:
When the image/illustration quality is bad, the entire website looks bad, including the content. Your images need to be with the perfect resolution. If the image is smaller than required, it will look blurry and stretched. If it’s larger than required, just like we said above, it will take some seconds for the page to load.
Context matters too. If you write about a service, you can use stock photos too to enhance your content. Just be wise and stay away from these:
Enough of those! There are lots of beautiful stock images that you can use that will merge perfectly with your articles. It’s even better to not use stock photos at all! Just grab your camera and use real photos of your team:
If you don’t have a proper camera or you can’t afford a photoshoot, you can choose a stock photo from the following sites:
When Apple brought the first Mac into the marketplace, they did something that wasn’t done before – including 10 different fonts that you can choose from. That was quite a big breakthrough back in the 80s. This means that if there wasn’t for Apple, we might’ve stayed with the basic Commodore font:
Choosing the right typography for your content means that you’ll improve the UX of your website and make users feel unobstructed when consuming your content. This is vital for the success of your WordPress website, due to a couple of reasons:
Brand Identity – Different typography styles can communicate different messages to people. There are fonts that convey creativity, stability, trust, strength, elegance, sophistication etc.
Better Conversion Rate – With the right typography and layout you’ll make your target users feel at ease, which can directly result in increased website visit time and consequently, as they consume your content, bigger chances to convert them into customers.
You need to choose typography that is easy to read, relevant to your brand image and contextual with your target audience.
You can choose any font size for your web content. But, will that size make the content more readable for the user?
Do your website and your users a favor and use font sizes that are mathematically recommended. You can start with a size of 16px for paragraph letters and go above for other elements such as subheadings, titles and main titles. 18px is not a small size but not too big either, so it’s excellent to use for your paragraphs.
It’s really tempting to include as much content as possible in your pages. But when it’s too much, you don’t let the page to breathe, not the mention how the readers feel. So, how can you ensure that you have the right content spacing?
By using whitespace properly, of course. This is the gap between your paragraphs, rows, headings, subheadings, images, videos, body text etc. Using whitespace helps you to style content in the following ways:
- Makes it Elegant – When you add more whitespace, you’re making your pages look more minimalistic and elegant.
- Makes People Focus – With proper use of whitespace, you can focus the user’s attention on what’s important.
- Less Reading Stress – With the proper use of whitespace in your paragraphs, you can make even the long and potentially overwhelming content readable.
One of the easiest ways to style your content and improve your UX is to add enough space between content lines. Anything between 1.3 and 1.7 is fine, but most of the time this depends on the font size and characters per line.
5. Optimize for Mobile
Since the smartphone revolutions started, customers also started asking for websites that don’t require them to zoom every word to see the content. Today, when most people are online more on mobile than on desktop, it’s really a no-brainer to offer them a flawless mobile experience.
Luckily, if you’re using WordPress as the CMS platform for your page, you can offer a mobile-responsive experience from the moment you put your page online. It is the norm of the users and the norm for a WordPress page that converts. WordPress is ideal if you don’t want to manage two separate websites (one desktop, another mobile) for your users.
The responsive version of your WordPress website works by moving elements to create the best possible visibility for users. It’s like liquid. The page scales up and down to fit the best it can to the screen where it’s being opened.
That’s why, when you design the desktop version of your page, you need to have a mobile-first approach. You need to think like your users and look through their eyes when they’re on their smartphones.
Depending on the time of the day or the conditions, users can access your website from anywhere. For that reason, it is necessary to provide a flawless transition on every screen, whether that’s laptop, smartphone or tablet.
6. Follow the Common Principles
In UX design, there are some things that are standard and a must if you want to provide a good and interactive experience for web visitors. This is true for WordPress pages too. The following are the common principles that every business should respect when optimizing UX for success.
Meet the User’s Needs
With the user’s needs starts everything in business, from the plan to goals, to web design. By doing your market research, knowing your target customers well and observing them while you conduct your usability study, you’ll be better at identifying their needs and successfully satisfying them in your website design.
Consistency is another rudimental principle that needs to be respected in UX design. Even if you redesign your website, you need to stay consistent in terms of functions, interactions, content, performance, and tasks operation. You need to always aim to reduce the learning process for the users. Take a look at The New York Times page for example:
They’ve stayed consistent for years. Even if they do minor changes to the design, their users will know exactly where to look for the main headline and click. Other similar magazines such as The New Yorker and Forbes are following the Consistency principle too, with minor changes over the years.
Design for Functionality
Function before design, but with the perfect aesthetics is the design rule if you want a WordPress page that converts visitors into customers. You can’t hide a standard operation like opening a menu based on how cool it would look if you somehow hide it in the design.
Yes, the page may look like a canvas to some designers, but that doesn’t mean that the page should be turned into a picture that is just for the looks. The design is different than art. You need your website to solve people’s problems and the only way to achieve that is through its functionality.
When someone lands on a page, he/she intuitively looks for the menu, slider, latest posts feed and other elements that can be seen in most of the pages online today.
That’s an intuitive look on things and you need to enclose it in your design. Everything should look obvious to the user. They need to know how to operate with your interface as soon as they land on the page. They need to recognize it as they’ve used it for years.
If you want to have a unicorn WordPress website, you must make it intuitive first. You’ll need to take certain steps first to make an intuitive design work for your webpage:
- Understand Your Target Audience: Knowing your target users will set you on the path to developing an intuitive WordPress website. You need to dig down as much as you can, including your target user’s age, gender, likes/dislikes, occupation, family, location etc.
- Simple Navigation: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to intuitive design. The navigation on your website should be familiar and make sense to users.
- Expert Copy: Yes, copywriting is vital for SEO, but it’s also crucial for better UX and intuitive experience. A professionally-written and properly arranged website copy makes every segment of your website recognizable.
Just because we listed the ways to enhance your WordPress website’s UX above doesn’t mean that you need to do them all to be sure that you’ve done the job right. UX design and optimization is an ongoing process, and you need to optimize your page after each user trend and after each usability analysis. What is modern today, may become old and overused in the following years.
Remember that when you want to improve your UX for success, you should always have the users in mind. Their feelings, needs, familiarity with the web elements, they all matter. Keep in mind that this will be an ongoing process, and as you optimize and improve, you’ll capitalize on it.