In 2023 and beyond, a great website is more than just something helpful to have at your disposal. It’s the place most of your existing and future customers will go to connect with your brand or take a closer look at what you have to offer, so it needs to cover all the right bases.
That means cultivating a user experience that meets current consumer expectations and is easy to use on every level. However, a lot goes into building a truly effective website these days, and it’s easier than you think to miss certain details.
Here, we’ll dive into the essentials modern web designers and brand owners need to cover when it comes to building a streamlined user experience. We’ll also include a comprehensive website UX checklist to refer to as you implement your next round of changes on your site.
Key UX Principles Every Website Should Cover
Naturally, every brand will be a bit different regarding what it needs its website to be capable of. However, some user experience principles are universally necessary in 2023 and beyond if you’re serious about meeting rising visitor expectations. Here are a few to be aware of before launching or updating your website design.
Today’s consumers are used to just about everything online being personalized, customized, and seamlessly intuitive. They certainly expect any website they visit to be fast, organized, and built to solve their problems.
That said, user-friendliness should be built into any web design from the ground up. Background research on your target audience can be helpful when it comes to determining how your customers use your site, what works for them, and what could use improvement.
Periodically collecting user feedback is a great way to plan for future design updates, as well.
Have you ever landed on a website where the underlying information architecture didn’t make any sense? Chances are, it was really hard to find your way around or even tell in the first place whether that site could deliver what you were looking for. You may even have left out of frustration and gone elsewhere for your solutions.
Hierarchy is a key design principle that differentiates between a well-organized website that’s easy to navigate and a thoroughly confusing one. A good, functional hierarchy features the most essential elements at the top of the chain and naturally leads users deeper into the site as they explore.
Digital-age consumers really like to know what to expect from the brands they do business with, so consistency is key. Not only should all elements of your website match your brand identity and the rest of your assets, but they need to be consistent from page to page.
It’s not just the design elements and general look that must stay consistent. Functionality should, as well. It should also be consistent with users’ current general expectations about a business or product like yours.
Every website UX audit checklist should include multiple factors that could affect accessibility. Ideally, you want your site to offer a solid experience to as many people as possible, including anyone disabled who may be surfing the web looking for solutions.
For example, implementing high color contrast can help make your site easier to read and navigate for people with vision issues, as can adding alt text to images. You should also consider how various potential use situations could affect user experience.
The days when nearly everyone accessed the internet via a standard desktop system are over. In 2023, mobile devices accounted for over half of global web traffic. Those numbers will likely continue to rise in the years to come, so mobile accessibility is crucial.
However, designing with the user context in mind shouldn’t stop there. What physical settings are your visitors most likely to be in while using your site? Are there extraneous noises or other forms of interference that could affect things? What emotions are your users most likely feeling when using your site?
Today’s web users like to feel like they’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to how they interact with a particular site, so make sure your user experience offers them enough control. Give people options as to how they can view your site, such as the option to show either more or fewer products per page.
Building an “undo” option into your website design is a good idea, as well. Many people – especially those new to a site – access functions by accident and appreciate a clearly marked way to undo or redo something.
Website UX Checklist
Did you know that most users decide within 10-20 seconds whether to continue viewing a page they’ve landed on? The average page visit actually lasts less than a minute, so everything on your site needs to be on point if you want to hold a visitor’s attention.
Naturally, a great user experience is a huge part of this. And remember, details matter, so it’s important to be thorough. Referring to the following website UX checklist can help you avoid missing anything crucial.
Choosing the right domain
Ensure your choice of domains covers the right bases by reviewing it with the following factors in mind:
- Make sure the domain name you choose is easy to remember and recall at will
- The domain extension should match your business function, category, and location
- Domain names should be SEO-friendly
- Check to ensure your choice doesn’t present trademark or copyright issues
Building a site map
A functional site map makes your website easier to navigate for both users and Google crawl bots. Check yours for the following factors:
- Ensure your sitemap follows proper hierarchical order
- Your sitemap should include easy-to-find links to all major pages
- Navigation should be simple and logical
- Incorporate keywords and key phrases you want to rank for on SERPs
- URLs should be clear, dynamic, and keyword-rich
- Navigation should be optimized to include users with disabilities
There are several online tools that can help you create a sitemap for free. They can help you automate the process so that you do not have to manually update the list each time you publish a new page on your website.
Streamlining your homepage
Your homepage is huge when it comes to making a solid first impression and keeping visitors interested enough to stick around. Ensure it’s functional from a user experience standpoint by making sure of the following:
- The purpose of your brand and website should be immediately clear
- The look and feel of the homepage is clean and makes a solid first impression
- The homepage should not be mistakable for any other page on your site
- Include a navigation bar with links to important pages and site categories
- Clear links to both your “contact” page and “about us” page should be displayed
- Links to your social networks are included and easy to find
- Add a search box if your site has many pages or products
- Add announcements or bulletins if anything major changes about your site
- Include a clear call to action to help visitors determine what to do next
- Ensure all imagery, graphics, and videos add value
- Don’t allow videos or audio elements to auto-start
Creating a solid web design
Double-check to make sure the layout and overall design of your site are on point by checking it for the following before launch:
- The layout, design, and all other elements should be consistent with your brand
- Your company logo is consistent across all pages and displayed in the same spot
- Pages have plenty of negative space to ensure readability and cut down on clutter
- Your entire site features a responsive design viewable on multiple devices
- The background is clean, professional, and non-distracting
- Be sparing in your use of pop-up windows
- Fonts, colors, and other design elements should be consistent across all pages
- It should be obvious which elements are clickable
- All pages have clear visual start points that naturally draw the user’s attention
- Elements and information tidbits that are alike should be grouped together
- Animations, moving graphics, etc. should add value and be used wisely
- Important information is located toward the top of each page
The larger your site is, the more crucial it is to ensure it’s organized and fully navigable. Check yours to make sure you’ve done all the following:
- Your navigation system should be consistent across all of your pages
- All major categories and important pages should be linked on each page
- Ensure your company logo is clickable and leads users back to your homepage
- Include a filtering system to help visitors sort through pages and products
- Organize all categories and products in a logical way that makes sense to users
- Include important trigger words that most users look for when exploring a site
- It should always be clear to the user where on the site they are at a given time
Keep your site as accessible as possible for as many users as possible by checking it for the following factors and making changes accordingly:
- Avoid using color to relay important information
- The text should be easily readable across all pages
- Videos should include captions, transcriptions, or both
- Ensure your site is navigable without a mouse or extra equipment
- Use clear, appropriate language that’s easy for all audiences to understand
- All non-text elements – such as images and graphics – should include alt information
Streamlining your content
Ensuring your actual web content is user-friendly adds another layer to your overall user experience quotient. Be sure to do the following with yours:
- All content should be scannable thanks to short sentences, small paragraphs, images, bulleted lists, etc.
- Use subheadings to organize content and make it easy to skim
- The content uses simple, accessible language most users will understand
- Abbreviations of any kind are written out in full at first mention
- Product pages are detailed, SEO-friendly, and comprehensive
- Each piece of content is relevant and serves a clear purpose
- All content is updated and refreshed regularly
- Blog content is unique, engaging, and helps keep users on the site
Creating useful links
How you implement and manage your links is just as important as any other website development element. Make sure yours fits all the following criteria:
- Avoid placing links on or within any elements that move or change
- Anchor text should be descriptive and SEO-friendly
- All links should be functional, unbroken, and checked regularly
- Buttons should replace links when commands are extra important
- Clickable elements like links and buttons should change color once accessed
Testing and Iteration
Once you’ve updated your website according to a comprehensive website UX checklist and implemented your launch, it’s crucial to continuously test and reevaluate it. Doing so ensures your site remains functional, up-to-date, relevant, and in line with current industry standards and user expectations.
A/B testing and user feedback loops
Also known as split testing, A/B testing involves implementing and comparing two or more versions of your site (or a specific function) simultaneously. A/B testing is a solid way to determine which of two or more possible options is the best fit for your goals.
It’s also important to collect, acknowledge, and implement feedback and suggestions from your actual users on an ongoing basis.
Keep track of and continuously analyze key metrics to determine whether your website design is meeting expectations. Examples include but are not limited to click-through rates, bounce rates, dwell time, time spent on page, and conversion rate.
Continuous iteration and improvement
Once you’ve developed a method for evaluating and reassessing the user experience on your website, be sure to keep it consistent moving forward to ensure reliable results. Perform future audits regularly according to a schedule that makes sense for your brand. (Every 4-6 months is a decent initial benchmark to shoot for.)
Don’t forget to keep listening to your users, as well, and applying any feedback they give you accordingly.
Now that you have access to a solid website UX checklist you can refer to moving forward, it’s time to take the next steps toward truly making your site into a force to be reckoned with. Content Cloud by Rock Content is an all-in-one business growth package that helps you boost ROI, engage audiences, dominate your content marketing goals, and more.
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