If you spend some time scrolling around the internet, you might start to realize that so many websites look more or less the same. You see the same menu options at the top of the screen, a clickbait heading, paragraphs of text and the same stock photo. Does this sound familiar?
There are nearly two billion active websites scattered around the internet, and that number has doubled over the last four years. With so many websites online, it’s easy to see why so many of them look the same. But that doesn’t mean your website has to follow the same tiresome approach.
Creating a generic user experience (UX) has its pros and cons. For starters, you probably won’t offend anyone with your website as it may appeal to a wide audience. But, on the other hand, you also run the risk of shunning your target audience if they feel that your website doesn’t have a lot of value. Your users have seen it all before, so why would they bother interacting with your website?
People are busy and they either want to find what they’re looking for fast or they want to find something truly original and entertaining. Learn more about the dangers of having a generic website and how you can improve your UX design to drive more engagement.
Playing It Safe with UX: Why All Websites Look Alike
Creating a website is like working with a bare canvas. Platforms like Shopify make it easy to design a website and publish it online in a matter of minutes. As these tools become more popular and accessible, more people are using premade templates to design a site in record time. But even with these handy tools, the possibilities are endless.
You can do so many interesting things with your website to make it more attractive for your target audience. Just like designing a logo or building a product, every detail is an opportunity to astound and amaze. From the color and font of your text to the images on the homepage and the options on your menu, there are all kinds of ways to get creative your design without taking away from the overall utility of your website.
With so many people uploading content and designing their own website, convenience seems to almost always win out. People might not have a lot of time to get creative with their website; they just want something online as fast as possible. But launching a beautiful website takes time, patience, and an eye for design.
The Risks of Having a Generic Website
Just because you can design a website in three minutes or less doesn’t mean you should. Having a generic website means blending in with the crowd. Just like a bland blog post or a mediocre product, there’s relatively nothing to set you apart from your competitors.
If you have a truly original product or service that basically sells itself, it probably doesn’t matter what your website looks like. You could have a black page with a few misspelled words and people would still buy your products and services.
But this isn’t the case for most companies. The competition is real, so you need to do everything you can to stand out and woo over the users that land on your website.
Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain. People are inundated with images, content, and ads everywhere they go. So, if they’re choosing to click on your website, you need to give them something of value from a design perspective.
Here’s another statistic to get you thinking: 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive. People simply don’t have the time to look at, much less interact with, a boring website with an unattractive layout.
The Importance of Customizing Your Website for Your Target Audience
Web design is not an all-or-nothing science. What one person considers boring, another person might consider simple and useful. These terms are often subjective and based on the individual user in question. One size does not fit all. Creating a more compelling UX is about catering to your target audience.
Some users may be looking for hilarious memes and videos, while others may be looking for detailed, actionable information. You need to keep your target audience in mind when coming up with a UX design strategy. The goal is to engage a certain type of user, not all users (unless you’re Amazon or another major retailer that carries just about every product under the sun).
Focus your efforts on creating an ideal user experience for your target audience or you run the risk of over diluting your design efforts and scaring away the people you need to reach the most.
UX Tips for More User Engagement
Now, let’s dive into our UX design tips for fostering more user engagement. Again, how you implement these tips into your design strategy should all depend on your target audience, so keep those user profiles handy.
1) Be Specific with Menu Options to Drive Clicks
It’s amazing how many website menus all look the same. Nearly every website has a menu bar at the top of the screen and for good reason, considering it helps people navigate your website, but you don’t need to be so rigid when labeling your menu options.
Most website menus include the follow options: Home, About Us, Products/Services, Pricing, Contact Us, or some slight variation on these themes.
While all those menu options are valid and necessary, they could literally describe just about any business in the world. There’s nothing to set this menu apart from its competitors.
Think about things from a user’s perspective, they land on your website, blog post, or landing page and they see these menu options at the top of the screen. How do they know if they’re in the right place?
Be specific with your menu options to help your users navigate your website more easily. Instead of “Products/Services”, you could insert the specific name of your products and services, such as “Appliance Repair Services” or whatever’s applicable to your business.
Remember that, once on a company’s homepage, 86% of visitors want to see information about that company’s products/services. Help your users get around by telling them exactly what they’re going to find on a page before they click on the link.
2) Use Detailed, Industry-Specific Language
When someone lands on your website, you need to help them make sense of their surroundings. Using generic language in your web copy can muddy the waters.
Some of the first things that your users will see when they land on your website is the title of the page and the first sentence of your copy. If the person doesn’t find what they’re looking for or isn’t sure if they’re in the right place, they will click off your website in a matter of seconds.
To avoid this, use detailed, industry-specific language in your titles and web copy to help your users make sense of what they see on the screen.
Let’s say you publish a blog post titled “How to Get Rid of Wrinkles”. Some people may not know if you’re talking about ironing a piece of clothing or reducing the aging process. Instead of just jumping into specific tips, give your readers some context for the piece with words like “anti-aging”, “beauty” or “cosmetics”. This also gives Google more information about your website, so it can better categorize your website for SEO purposes.
3) Help Users Find the Info They’re Looking For with Specific Headers
Everyone knows that writing for the internet means breaking up large chunks of text with headers and subheaders. Web pages need to be skimmable and easy to read.
But, ask yourself, are your headers just breaking up the text or are they giving your readers important information about the text below?
Some of the most widely shared articles online contain thousands of words or more, but your users may be looking for an answer to a specific question within that maze of copy and they may not have time to sort through all that information.
That’s why you need to use specific headers every time you introduce a new topic within a post. For example, if someone wants to find out the average lifespan of a cat, they may not want to read through a giant post with tips on how to help a cat live longer.
If you know that some aspects of your post may be more valuable than others, you can highlight certain words or use bold or italics to make these sections easier to find.
4) Invest in Original Media
Yes, visual media makes the internet go round. Just about every website should have visuals of some kind. But instead of downloading the same old generic photos you’ve seen a thousand times before, use nontraditional images or create new ones of your own.
You don’t have to be so literal with your images. If you’re writing about helping people save money, insert a picture of an animal jumping for joy instead of two concerned homeowners consulting with a financial adviser.
Get creative with your image selections and remember that, while original photos can be costly, you can always find up-and-coming photographers online that are willing to hand over images for a lower fee. You can even look for images on Instagram and ask people if they’d be willing to license out their work.
5) Cater to the Searcher’s Intent
Everyone is looking for something different online and you should be aware of the searcher’s intent when using certain keywords in your copy. More product-based keywords like “beauty supplies” usually mean the person is looking to make a purchase, so help the person find what they need quickly by pitching the benefits of your products and guiding them towards the checkout option.
Yet, other keywords and search phrases like “how to unclog a toilet” are more about knowledge and information, so help the person find what they’re looking for by using thoughtful headers and skimmable text with clear, actionable steps.
6) Speed and Efficiency Are the Keys to Success
Have you heard the news? The majority of internet traffic is now taking place on mobile devices.
So, what does this mean for your web design? For starters, you need to have a mobile version of your website. The text should appear larger on mobile devices and the margins of the web page should automatically readjust for mobile screens.
Your site also needs to load quickly, especially if people are browsing on mobile devices. People typically leave a site after just a few seconds if the content takes too long to load.
You also need to write content for mobile audiences. That means no long paragraphs of text and having clear menu options that help people find what they need when they’re out and about. The menu should be easy to find and collapse or expand to make more space on the screen.
If you want people to buy one of your products or services, you need to make this process as easy and as efficient as possible. You should have a clear “Buy Now” button or something similar that points users in the right direction.
As you can see, creating a compelling user experience all depends on the website in question. While these tips should point you in the right direction, you need to customize your website interface to make it more appealing for your target audience. Different web pages will serve different purposes. One page may be filled with valuable information, while another may be all about helping customers complete a purchase as quickly as possible.
Look at the websites of your competitors to get a sense of what’s already online. Do your best to shake things up by taking your website in a new direction. Good luck and happy designing!
If you’re looking for more information on creating a compelling UX, get in touch with SEO Toronto for a free consultation today.