Every year, creating a strong user experience (UX) becomes a bit more difficult. Technology shifts and other companies introduce new, more personalized processes that raise expectations. As a small business, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the best practices across websites, social media and inside the walls of your building. 

There are several factors at the core UX that make up a sort of honeycomb that includes considerations such as: 

  • Is it useful? 
  • How usable is this feature? 
  • Is it desirable to my target audience? 
  • Is the element accessible?

Figuring out whether your small business offers the best user experience possible requires looking at several factors within your control. Here are eight ways to beef up the usability of your brand.

1. Add Conversational Design

In a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, researchers found that 68% of households use their mobile devices to access the internet. As more people do this, the conversational design is trending. Basically, artificial intelligence is used to automatically respond to common questions, and live agents respond to specific requests. The user types their query into their phone, much as they would a text message, and gets an instantaneous response.

2. Cut Unnecessary Clutter

Finding what a user needs on your page shouldn’t be difficult. Take a look at what your site visitors interact with and cut anything they don’t care about or aren’t inclined to use. Tools such as heatmaps show you what is hot on your site and what isn’t, and help guide you toward choosing only the most beneficial elements for your users.

3. Move to Flat 2.0

You likely remember the flat, simple designs from a couple of years ago. One trend experts are pointing to for 2019 on into 2020 is something called Flat 2.0. Flat graphics have a lack of dimension, but Flat 2.0 adds a three-dimensional look, bringing them to life with light and shadow. The shift is likely due to better browsers and higher-definition screens.

4. Train Customer Service Reps

Part of the overall experience with your brand includes any interaction a potential customer has with your service agents. Invest in better training. Write up a good customer service policy, as well as clear return and exchange rules, and make sure everyone is on the same page. If you want to be known for fast, friendly service, focus on training your staff to deliver this. If you prefer to be known for a personal touch, then give them the flexibility to solve problems creatively.

5. Study Social Media

What works for your website or your email newsletter may not work for your social media presence. Spend time figuring out where your target audience spends their time while online. If you mainly cater to Gen Xers, then you might want to check out Facebook as a place to connect. On the other hand, if you want to reach millennials, Instagram or Snapchat might be a smarter choice. Get to know whatever social media platform you plan to use and see what is popular and what isn’t. How can you offer value to your users through that platform?

One example might be Pinterest. You choose to focus your promotions there, but you don’t want to just sell something to those users. They are mainly women wanting to make something. You could perhaps offer a recipe or a craft somehow tied into your product. Of course, what you offer depends upon what you sell, so you might need to get a little creative.

6. Speed up Your Site

With 5G connectivity marching onto the scene and many cities embracing fibre optic cable, users expect websites to load lightning fast. Test your site speeds and look for ways to improve load times. In addition to investing in a better server or package, you can remove heavy graphics that bog your site down, embed videos from services such as YouTube or Vimeo, and remove cumbersome scripts. Sites such as Pingdom allow you to run speed tests and report back on what the issues might be.

7. Be Upfront

Clickbait is a thing of the past and is quite annoying now that people are onto the manipulation. Don’t try to fool your social media followers into clicking on a link with tricky words. Be honest and transparent. If you want them to check out your new product, tell them that’s what you want. Highlight the best features in a video so you attract people who are interested in what you have to offer. Transparency grows more important in a time when honesty is hard to come by. Your users will appreciate that they get what they think they’re getting when clicking on a link and landing on your site.

8. Make Forms Short

Your users are unlikely to complete long, cumbersome forms. Keep the information you gather to a minimum and add value for completing the form. Depending on your business model, you might offer a quote, book or consultation. Your calls to action (CTAs) should clearly outline what happens when the user fills in the boxes and clicks the button. For example, your CTA might read “Get My Free Guide” or “Keep Me Updated.”

Test It All

A website isn’t very useful if your audience runs into broken links, 404 pages, nasty customer service reps and site errors. Carefully test every aspect of your website, presence on social media and customer service channels. Look at everything through the eyes of someone experiencing your brand for the first time and fix any issues. You may want to pull in outside help to offer feedback for improvement. With a little effort, you can create a business that is user-friendly and checks off all the boxes for good UX. 

 

Lexie Lu is a UX content strategist and web designer. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, watching HGTV and walking her Goldendoodle. Feel free to check out her design blog or follow her on Twitter

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