In today’s digital landscape, your website is more important than ever before. It’s a 24/7 salesperson that provides interactions between your business and the internet world at large. For all intents and purposes, it’s the face of your business; your digital storefront. Making sure your website keeps up with the competition is critical for your business’s success.

But things change fast. Trends come and go, which can leave your site feeling outdated. And while often times, a redesigned website might be the best way forward, the time and cost investments are prohibitive.

Other times, however, a redesign might not even be necessary. This is especially true for websites that have a strong focus on the entire user experience as opposed to flashy trends and gimmicks.

Defining the User Experience

User experience, or UX, has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. As a discipline or idea, its definition is a little hazy. Designers like to refer to it as how a product is designed, while marketers use it to describe how efficiently your site moves a user through a sales funnel. Both definitions are incomplete.

Caglar Araz, a UX designer at LEGO, describes UX as such:

User experience refers to the singular and accumulated experiences that occur for users as a consequence of them interacting with an object in a given context.

Taken in this context, UX describes the experience that your visitors have when they visit and interact with your website. It encompasses the design, functionality, and even the level of service your site provides. But it goes even further than that.

Consider a brick and mortar store. Most business owners go to great efforts to provide a great user experience in their shops, even if they aren’t consciously aware of the term. They make sure their storefront and store is clean and tidy, with their products and services displayed prominently. They make sure to greet customers who walk through with a smile and a wave. And they make sure that any questions their customers have about their product or services receive thoughtful, friendly answers.

This is the essence of good UX. Your digital storefront is no less important. In fact, by its very nature of being able to serve far more visitors than any physical store ever could, it’s arguably more so.

How to Improve Your UX

Given its importance and with so many big businesses raising the bar on what they provide, smaller websites can feel overwhelmed by the expectations to improve their UX. But it’s not as difficult as it seems.

Great UX is more of a mindset than a set of rules you follow. That said, we’ve put together a set of guidelines to follow to help you align to this kind of mindset. They apply to the content you add to your site, its design and even the kind of service and support you provide. Let’s dive in!

Make Sure Every Page has a Purpose

Every page on your website should have a clear, concise message and function. When a visitor arrives to your homepage or shows up on one of your landing pages, they should be able to quickly scan the information and understand what the page is about and why it matters to them.

Your homepage should have an organized overview of your business and what kind of products and services you offer across the board. Don’t focus too much on each individual product or service. Instead, offer a brief description of each one of and provide a strong call that your visitors can follow to find out more information.

Make sure each page that lists more information about a particular product or service doesn’t deviate from those things too much. More importantly, be concise. Tell your visitors precisely what they need to know about what you have and why it benefits them. Engage them to take the next step rather than inundating them with endless information.

For your landing pages, be sure to stick to a single goal. If you’ve made one that’s focused on getting email addresses, make sure every call to action on the page does precisely this. Offering multiple avenues to a visitor usually ends up confusing them and pushes them to some other area of your site, deviating from the whole point of your landing page.

Get Rid of Mazes and Dead Ends

Do you have all your pages trimmed down? Great! Now you need to make sure your visitors can easily find each one. Poor navigation and disorganized websites put a massive damper on UX, so you need to ensure that everything is accessible and organized in a way that makes finding each page quick and painless.

The best way to do this is by making sure your navigation is clear and organized. Stay away from loopy menus. When necessary, offer a hierarchy in your navigation rather than putting a link to every page of your site across the top of the screen.

Another UX killer is dead links. And while dead links are sometimes unavoidable, providing a way for visitors to easily get back to your website is not. Make sure your website has a well-designed 404 page that acknowledges your visitor’s experience and offers a simple way for them to get back to where they were.

Make Actions Simple and Obvious

There should be as little friction as possible between a user and the information on your site. To help facilitate this, you need to make sure that every action is immediately visible, understandable and simple as possible.

Your navigation should be clear and visible. Likewise, the links in your content should be obvious and stand apart from the actual copy. The same goes for your CTAs—each one should clearly stand out and acting on them should be second nature to your visitors.

This goes for all the forms on your site too. If you have contact or submission forms of any kind, each field should be clearly labeled and obvious. More over, forms should have as little friction as possible and be easy to fill out and submit. If you have a field you don’t necessarily need to convert a visitor to a lead, consider chucking it. If all you need is an email address, there’s no reason to include fields for names and other information.

Use Great Content

Great user experiences starts with killer content. Every word, image, and video you put on your website represents your business as a whole. If you truly want to provide the best experience for your visitors, you need to focus on making these as great as possible.

Your home page should have clear, concise and actionable copy. Your headlines should be strong and grab people’s attention, urging them to read further. And once they’re reading, they should be compelled to follow the narrative through engaging copy to understand why your offers are better than the competition.

If you’re focusing on improving your marketing efforts with a content strategy, make sure your blog posts are original, accurate, and engaging. The content on your site serves to connect visitors with your brand or business. As such, the content needs to provide real answers through a voice that resonates with your audience and helps them trust what you have to say.

The same goes for the media on your site. Make sure you use original, eye-catching images and video that communicates what it is you offer. There’s certainly plenty of free content out there, but investing in high-quality, premium images and video differentiates you from the competition and helps you stand out.

Performance Matters

One of the biggest reasons visitors click the back button and move on to the next site is slow load times. With so many options and so much information available, people want to get in and find the answers they’re looking for immediately. There’s no incentive to put up with a frustratingly slow site that takes more than a few seconds to load.

There are myriad ways to improve the performance of your website. This includes everything from compressing and optimizing your content, images, and code to making sure you’re using top-notch web hosting. If you’re using a content management system like WordPress, it also involves making sure you’re keeping everything updated and regularly evaluating the plugins you’re using to ensure they’re performing well.

Performance is a chore in and of itself, and there are quite a few technical variables involved. A good way to start is by visiting Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how your website performs. This can help you understand where you need to focus your efforts and then determine a way forward to getting your website’s performance up to snuff.

Improving Your Website’s User Experience

Good UX is vital to the success of your online presence. Providing your visitors with a great experience leads to better customer satisfaction, better search rankings, more business leads and, of course, more revenue.

Incorporating the ideas in this guide will not only improve your site’s, but they’ll help you think about things in terms of how your visitors use and interact with your website. At the end of the day, improving their experience not only makes your website more successful, but it improves your business as a whole.