Optimizing Website UI & UX – Launch Checklist: Part 6

August 24, 2023 15 min read
Graphic representation of a user interacting with a polished website UI and UX design.

Understanding the Importance of UI and UX

Imagine your favorite café. The ambience, the comfortable seating, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee – it’s not just about serving coffee; it’s about the experience. Your website should offer the same allure, beckoning visitors to explore more, linger, and engage. That’s the magic of good UI and UX.

Why a Positive User Experience Matters

You know that delightful feeling when you find exactly what you’re looking for on a website without any hassle? That’s stellar UX at play. A positive user experience isn’t just about making things look pretty. It’s about intuitiveness, efficiency, and creating a seamless journey for the visitor.

When your website offers a smooth user experience, visitors are more likely to:

  • Stay longer: If they enjoy navigating your site, they’ll likely explore more pages.
  • Engage more: Be it signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or sharing your content.
  • Return: A good experience is memorable. They’ll come back for more, and might even bring their friends.

Think of UX as building a rapport. Just like in real life, first impressions matter. If visitors face broken links, hard-to-read fonts, or confusing layouts, they may never return. But, if they feel understood and catered to? That’s the start of a beautiful relationship.

The Interplay Between UI and SEO

Now, let’s talk about a match made in digital heaven: UI and SEO. On the surface, they might seem like two different worlds. UI focuses on design, look, and feel, while SEO aims to rank higher on search engines. But here’s the inside scoop: they’re deeply interconnected.

A well-designed UI can significantly boost your SEO efforts. How?

  • Lower Bounce Rates: If visitors find your website user-friendly and engaging, they’re less likely to ‘bounce’ off quickly, signaling to search engines that your site is valuable.
  • Increased Time on Site: Intuitive design can lead users on a journey, keeping them engaged for longer.
  • Mobile Optimization: With the increasing number of mobile users, ensuring your site’s design is mobile-friendly is a direct ranking factor for search engines.

Simply put, investing in good UI and UX isn’t just about user satisfaction. It’s also a strategy to climb those search engine rankings. Remember, a happy user often means a happy Google

Making Your Site User-Friendly Across Platforms

Mobile Responsiveness

Here’s a little secret: there’s a high chance you’re reading this on a mobile device right now. With smartphones being such integral parts of our lives, your website must look and work impeccably on these devices.

Mobile responsiveness isn’t just about shrinking your website to fit a smaller screen. It’s about:

  • Reformatting Content: Adjusting layouts, menus, and other elements to be touch-friendly and readable.
  • Optimizing Images: Ensuring images load fast and look good on high-resolution screens without consuming excessive data.
  • Prioritizing Essential Features: Recognizing that mobile users might have different priorities and ensuring the most crucial actions (like ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Sign Up’) are easily accessible.

Not only does mobile optimization enhance user experience, but Google also prioritizes mobile-friendly websites. So, if you want a pat on the back from search engines, this is a non-negotiable.

Cross-Browser Compatibility

Imagine baking a cake for a group where everyone has different dietary preferences. You’d want to make sure it’s delicious for all, right? This is what cross-browser compatibility is all about—ensuring your website looks and functions consistently across different web browsers.

Here’s why this is paramount:

  • Diverse Audience: Not everyone uses Google Chrome or Safari. Some might be on Firefox, Opera, or even the older versions of Internet Explorer.
  • Maintain Professionalism: A broken layout or non-functioning features can look unprofessional and harm your brand image.
  • Maximize Reach: Ensuring compatibility means a wider audience can access and interact with your content seamlessly.

To check your site’s cross-browser compatibility, there are various tools available online. But, more importantly, don’t forget to regularly update and test your website on different platforms. The digital world is ever-evolving, and so should your approach.

Simplifying Navigation for Enhanced Usability

Imagine walking into a large department store with no signs, no map, and aisles that seem to lead to random places. Frustrating, right? A complex or poorly thought-out navigation on your website can evoke the same feelings in your visitors. 

Navigation is the backbone of your site; it’s how users explore what you offer and, ultimately, how they decide to take action. Let’s chat about the best ways to streamline this crucial element.

Every click or tap on your website should feel intuitive. Think of your site’s navigation as a friendly tour guide, subtly guiding users where they want to go.

Here are some essentials to nail down:

  • Clear Menu Labels: Avoid jargon or overly creative names. If it’s a page about your services, label it ‘Services.’ Simple!
  • Hierarchy Matters: The most important pages or categories should be prominent. Everything else can be categorized under dropdown menus or sub-menus. Remember, you want to limit the number of initial choices to avoid overwhelming visitors.
  • Consistency: Keep your navigation menu consistent across all pages. A user shouldn’t feel like they’ve entered a maze when they click to a new page.
  • Descriptive Links: If you’re linking to a blog post about “5 Best Marketing Strategies,” your hyperlink shouldn’t just be “Click Here.” Instead, it could be “Discover the 5 Best Marketing Strategies.” Not only is this better for SEO, but it also sets clear expectations.
  • Optimize for Touch: With the rise of touch-screen devices, ensure your navigation is touch-friendly. Dropdown menus can be tricky, so consider alternative navigation styles for mobile views.
  • Feedback on Hover: When users hover over clickable items, they should receive visual feedback, such as a change in color or an underline. It’s like a little nod, confirming their action.

Lastly, always prioritize user feedback. If users often ask where to find certain information or if your site analytics show people exiting quickly, it might be time for a navigation revamp. After all, the user knows best!

Breadcrumb Navigation

You know those little trails of links, usually at the top of a page, showing the path you’ve taken to arrive there? Those are breadcrumbs. Much like the fairy-tale trail of crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel, they provide a trail for your users to follow. But rather than preventing you from getting lost in a forest, they help guide you through a website.

Why is it so handy?

  • User Orientation: Users can quickly understand where they are on your site, especially if they’ve landed on a page deep within your content.
  • Easy Navigation: It’s a quick way back to higher-level pages without hitting the back button multiple times.
  • Minimal Space, Maximum Clarity: Breadcrumbs take up minimal screen space while providing a lot of navigational context.

But here’s the cherry on top. They’re not just user-friendly; they’re SEO-friendly too.

SEO benefits of breadcrumb navigation

When used correctly, breadcrumbs can give your SEO a lovely little boost. Here’s how:

  • Enhanced User Experience: Google loves websites that offer a great user experience. When visitors can navigate your site easily, they stay longer, reducing the bounce rate, which can favorably influence your site’s ranking.
  • Keyword Optimization: Breadcrumbs usually contain target keywords, which can reinforce the content’s relevancy.
  • Structured Data: Google sometimes uses breadcrumb pathways in its search results, providing a clearer understanding of a website’s structure to users. Implementing schema markup for your breadcrumbs can boost this feature.
  • Internal Linking: Breadcrumbs naturally create internal links to higher-level pages, spreading link equity throughout the site.

By integrating breadcrumb navigation, you’re not just making your site more navigable. You’re also telling search engines like Google about the structure of your website, making it easier for them to index and understand your content. It’s a win-win!

Crafting Intuitive Interactions

Interacting with your website should feel like a delightful conversation, not a frustrating puzzle. The smoother this interaction, the higher the chances of converting a casual visitor into a loyal customer or subscriber. 

Central to this experience are the forms and call-to-action (CTA) elements you incorporate. Let’s delve deeper.

Forms and Call to Actions (CTAs)

Imagine walking into a store and being greeted by a friendly staff member. They ask you what you’re looking for, guide you through your options, and make the purchase process simple and seamless. That’s what a well-designed form and CTA should feel like online.

Essentials of an Effective Form:

  • Clarity: Make sure users understand what each field is asking for. Use clear labels and offer example inputs or tooltips for fields that might be confusing.
  • Simplicity: Less is more. Only ask for information you truly need, as long forms can be daunting and reduce conversion rates.
  • Feedback: Provide real-time feedback. If there’s an error, highlight the problematic field and explain the issue.
  • Mobile-Friendly: With more users on mobile devices, ensure your forms are responsive and easy to fill out on smaller screens.

Crafting Compelling CTAs:

  • Action-Oriented Language: Use verbs like “Get”, “Discover”, “Start”, or “Join”.
  • Make it Stand Out: Your CTA should be visually distinct. Whether it’s through color, size, or placement, it needs to catch the eye.
  • Clear Benefit: Users should know what’s in it for them. Instead of just “Submit”, how about “Get My Free E-Book”?
  • Reduce Friction: Any obstacles, be they lengthy sign-up processes or unclear value propositions, can deter users. Make the process seamless.

Remember, your website’s interactions are like a dialogue with your visitor. By making this conversation as pleasant and straightforward as possible, you increase the chances of that visitor taking the action you desire.

Custom 404 Error Pages

We’ve all been there. Eagerly clicking on a link, anticipating the content, and then… “Page Not Found.” It’s a minor hiccup, but it can quickly sour a user’s experience. 

However, with a custom 404 error page, you have a unique opportunity to turn a frustrating moment into a delightful or, at the very least, helpful one.

A default 404 can feel cold and unhelpful. But a custom 404 can:

  • Reflect Your Brand’s Voice: Whether you opt for humor, empathy, or professionalism, ensure it feels authentic to your brand.
  • Provide Helpful Links: Guide the user back to important sections of your site, like your homepage, popular posts, or a site map.
  • Include a Search Bar: Empower users to find what they’re looking for directly from the error page.
  • Offer Light Entertainment: Some brands use playful graphics, jokes, or even mini-games to lighten the mood.

Ultimately, while no one wants a user to land on a 404 page, a custom design ensures they’re still getting a taste of what makes your website unique and user-friendly.

Think of the footer as the anchor of your website. While it sits quietly at the bottom, it serves multiple essential functions and should never be an afterthought.

Key Components of an Effective Footer:

  • Navigation Links: These can include links to primary sections of your site, ensuring users have another access point, especially on long-scrolling pages.
  • Contact Information: Be it an email address, phone number, or a link to a contact form. Always allow users a clear way to reach out.
  • Social Media Icons: Amplify your online presence by linking to your brand’s social media profiles.
  • Legal Information: Links to your privacy policy, terms of service, and any other essential legal pages should be easily accessible.
  • Newsletter Signup: Capture interested users before they leave your site by offering a simple signup form for newsletters or updates.
  • A Brief About Section: A short blurb or mission statement can solidify your brand’s identity and values for those who scroll to the end.
  • Site Map: Especially for larger websites, this helps users (and search engines) find exactly what they’re looking for.

The footer is like the concluding paragraph of a compelling essay—it reinforces key points, offers critical information, and leaves a lasting impression. Don’t neglect it!

In the digital age, ensuring everyone can access and enjoy your website, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, isn’t just a good practice—it’s a moral imperative. 

Additionally, with various laws and guidelines in place, web accessibility has also become a legal requirement in many jurisdictions.

Website Accessibility

Ever tried using a website with your eyes closed? Or attempted to navigate solely using a keyboard? For millions worldwide, this isn’t an experiment; it’s their daily experience. 

Designing with accessibility in mind ensures that everyone, including those with disabilities, can navigate, understand, and interact with your site.

Here’s why website accessibility matters:

  • Inclusivity: Digital spaces should be open to all, just like physical spaces. When you make your website accessible, you’re ensuring that everyone, irrespective of their abilities, can engage with your content.
  • Wider Audience: By ensuring your website is accessible, you’re opening your doors to a broader audience, potentially increasing your user base and customer pool.
  • SEO Benefits: Many accessibility practices, like using alt text for images or creating a logical content hierarchy, also improve SEO.
  • Reduced Legal Risks: Numerous lawsuits have been filed against companies with inaccessible websites. By ensuring accessibility, you’re not just doing the right thing—you’re also protecting your business.

Here are some practical steps to take:

  • Alt Text for Images: Every image should have descriptive alt text, aiding visually impaired users who rely on screen readers.
  • Keyboard Navigation: Ensure that all website functions are usable via a keyboard.
  • Contrast and Font Sizes: Ensure text is readable, and there’s sufficient contrast between text and background colors.
  • Clear and Descriptive Link Text: Instead of “click here,” use descriptive links like “read our accessibility guide.”
  • Closed Captions: If you have videos, closed captions are essential for those with hearing impairments.

There are numerous tools and plugins available that can help test and improve the accessibility of your site. But remember, technology can only do so much. Cultivate a mindset of inclusivity, and it’ll naturally reflect in your designs and content.

You might be wondering, beyond the ethical reasons, why make the effort to ensure web accessibility? The answer is simple: the legal landscape has shifted significantly, and failing to ensure web accessibility can land businesses in hot water.

  • Legislation and Lawsuits: In the past few years, there has been a surge in lawsuits related to web accessibility. In the U.S., for instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been interpreted by courts to apply to websites. Companies large and small have faced legal challenges over inaccessible web content.
  • International Guidelines: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a set of guidelines aimed at making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. While not law per se, it is widely regarded as the gold standard in web accessibility and is referenced in various legal contexts around the world.
  • Reputational Risks: Beyond potential financial penalties, there’s a reputational risk associated with inaccessible websites. A lawsuit or even just negative feedback can harm a brand’s reputation, especially if the public perceives the brand as not caring about inclusivity.
  • Geographical Considerations: Depending on where your audience is, there might be specific regional or national laws to consider. For example, in the EU, the Web Accessibility Directive mandates public sector websites and mobile applications be accessible.

Practical Tips:

  • Stay Informed: Laws and guidelines can change. Regularly review and stay updated with the latest guidelines and legal requirements.
  • Seek Expertise: Consider consulting with a legal expert or an accessibility consultant to ensure your website meets the necessary standards.
  • Proactive Testing: Don’t wait for someone to point out issues. Proactively test your website using both automated tools and real-world user testing to catch potential issues.

By ensuring your website is accessible, not only do you cater to a broader audience, but you also safeguard your business from potential legal challenges. Embracing accessibility is a win-win!

Wrapping Up: The Continuous Journey of UI/UX Optimization

UI and UX design isn’t a “set it and forget it” venture. It’s an ongoing journey that requires constant feedback, tweaking, and adaptation to the ever-changing landscape of the internet. As we’ve journeyed through the intricate facets of UI and UX in this guide, it’s evident that the heart of a successful website lies not just in its aesthetics, but in its functionality, accessibility, and adaptability.

Just like a brick-and-mortar shop may periodically rearrange its storefront or interior to cater to its customers, your website demands periodic assessments and adjustments. The platforms, devices, and technologies people use to access your content today might change tomorrow. Hence, the need to stay nimble and receptive.

Remember, the best UI/UX design not only keeps the current audience in mind but also anticipates future trends and shifts. Keep an ear to the ground, always be receptive to feedback, and never be afraid to make changes when they’re due. UI/UX, like art, is subjective, and there’s always room for improvement.

As we close this chapter and gear up for the next one, let’s revisit the core message: Prioritize your user. In every design choice, every feature, and every piece of content, always ask – “Is this serving my audience the best way possible?”

For those who have followed our series from the beginning, I appreciate your company on this educational expedition. To ensure that no stone remains unturned, you might want to check out our previous parts:

As we close the chapter on UI/UX, the road ahead beckons with more insights. Stay with us, as in our next part, we’ll delve into the exciting world of Outreach and Ads. It’s a crucial topic, especially if you’re looking to expand your website’s reach and make a lasting impact in your niche. See you there!

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Artur Shepel
Hey there! You bring the vision, we bring the visibility. Ready to be seen?

P.S. Life's too short for bad vibes, bad friends, and bad marketing.
Artur Shepel