Making the First Visit to an Online Service a Success

by Danielle Arad on May 2, 2013

in Business, Design, Marketing, Usability, User Experience

Making the First Visit to an Online Service a Success

first-time-wowMany businesses are having hard time WOW-ing their users on their first visit. However, with the right user experience tips and tools, this shouldn’t be a chore any more. What site owners really have to do is to take a deep dive into their users’ brain, and see what triggers their attention and what does not. In this article we are going to detail a few of the UX techniques that capture users’ attention right from the first time and which keeps them intrigued to find out more; but first, let’s take a look at the challenge.

The Challenge

According to Steven Ma, UX designer at Amazon, most website owners think that the lack of control on the end platform is one of the biggest challenges they face. Websites indeed live in an environment where operating systems, browsers, and standards are always transforming and evolving. What this means is that when designing a website, the owner should take into consideration the way in which users will access it, and thus include plugins, 3rd party scripts, assisting technology, and so on, in regard to the user’s needs. All these elements can help create a good first impression, but only if they are used in a certain order and in direction to a few key elements.

How to Make the First Online Visit a Success?

Even though a websites’ success is given by the quality of traffic that it gains, a poorly designed webpage will certainly do no justice to a business owner. Thus, UX designers should keep in mind a few points when concluding the website’s user interaction.

#1 Design for All Platforms

As Steven Ma states, those who recognize the merits of this permanently evolving landscape will be the first ones to gain an edge over the other designers. The first experience of the users has to be a highly memorable one, and thus, designers have to create a highly responsive and triggering environment. “Responsive web design can be a good start, but it’s only scratching the surface literally” says Ma.

Therefore, in order to amaze users from their first visit on your site, you have to not only design with the platforms in mind, but also with the browsers and operating systems used by the audience. Different navigation tools can lead to different results, and thus it’s imperative to seek the satisfaction of each of your websites’ users. This can be achieved only through testing and implementation.

#2 Create a Clear Message

“Refine your message. Refine it more. Pound on it until your knuckles start to bleed”, says Idan Gazit, Django core designer. Of course, those who reach your website should be perfectly aware of your page’s purpose and how can it help them achieve their initial objective. In the absence of this, the bounce rate will be extremely high, as users will not be aware of your site’s real purpose. A perfect example comes to mind: some websites out there fail to state a proper sub-title quote to show the site’s purpose. This, in combination with an ambiguous home page design, can really induce error for plenty of users who arrive on that site.

Furthermore, after a detailed discussion with Tal Florentin, UX Specialist, he states that “an online service website should always tell me what it offers and what’s in it for me. What it offers should cover the first 6 seconds, where the user asks where he came to and if this is the place he wanted. Assuming we won this one, the next challenge is to show an immediate value and close it with a fitting call to action. The call to action should always show a value and offer a good ROI. It should show the user that the value he is going to get is bigger than the effort required on his side.” This can’t be closer to the truth, as if the user fails to perceive where he landed, he is most definitely going to leave right on the spot.

#3 Focus on the Main Actions

As Adi Mazor Kario of Wizard UI Consulting asserts, you should focus on the actions that you wish your users to pursue. Your users should always be aware of the methods that they can use to achieve their purpose. They should be aware at all times of the places where their actions will lead to. At the same time, it’s important for them to know how to get to their desired result quickly and effortlessly. The more time they’re required to pay for reaching their objective, the higher are the chances for them to leave. Thus, your site should literally “scream” towards them, telling them what to do next.

#4 Create a Clear Orientation & Navigation Model

Mazor Kario further suggests to design a clear orientation and navigation model. For making the website easier to navigate, you can use plenty of techniques including breadcrumbs (referring to a navigation control that shows you where you are at any point in the structure of the site). Breadcrumbs, crumbs in literal translation, are named after Hansel and Gretel crumbs strewn behind them not to be lost in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. You can also use a single-sided column view, in order to make users’ navigation easier and more intuitive. Tools that specialize in this niche of website navigation have recently become ever-more popular. WalkMe, for example, allows website owners to create simple navigation flows on their website in order to guide their users every step of the way, toward task completion.

Danielle Arad

Danielle Arad is Director of Marketing and User Experience Specialist of WalkMe.com, the world's first interactive website guidance system. She is also chief writer and editor of UX Motel, a blog for user experience experts. Follow her @uxmotel.

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