In 2014, Google altered its algorithm to prioritize user experience (UX). UX measures the emotions someone goes through when they’re using a website and the depth of connection they feel when interacting with it. Google’s constant tinkering of its algorithms ensures that users are presented with sites they want when they search, which is central to its success, and UX is the best way they currently have of making sure this happens.
UX is not just important for helping to climb Google’s rankings though, it’s also necessary for a website to be successful. It is vital for developing consumer trust and building brand loyalty, with 88% of online consumers saying that a bad experience reduces the likelihood of them returning to a site. If you can make sure consumers experience positive emotions, they will not only stay on your website, they will keep coming back - and likely recommend you to others.
There are a number of factors that contribute to good UX. Central to these is the website’s design and usability as the design of a site accounts for 94% of a user’s first impression. Consumers owe your website nothing, and they won’t take time out of their day to navigate clutter and poorly labelled links to find what they want just because your page looks pretty. They will leave, and likely find a competitor website where they don’t have to jump through hoops. It is therefore vital for UX that every page is easily accessible and well organized in an intelligent and intuitive structure, with an easy to find search field, and directions to every page that are easy to follow. Google also prioritizes websites that require as few clicks as possible to get to any page, so linking everything is important.
Speed is another major issue. A 1-second response keeps users engaged with the content. This means increased conversion rate and lower abandonments. Large file sizes lead to a slower website, so these should be dealt with, as should any extraneous elements that are causing delayed load times.
Site speed is especially important for mobile devices, as they often use slower mobile connections than desktop’s broadband connections. In 2014, mobile overtook desktop as the primary device people use to access the internet, and 73% of consumers now use their phones to get online. More importantly, the latest comScore report found that as many as 78% of local searches made through mobile convert into offline purchases, and according to Google, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you’re neglecting what is now the bulk of consumers.
While these are all vital across every website in every industry, there is no one-size fits all approach to UX. It is impossible to predict for certain how well your website will be perceived, and it’s important to know your audience and customer base. The best way to ensure your website’s UX is properly optimized is by constantly testing it, using analytics to measure interactions and leverage actionable insights which can be used to tweak your design accordingly. Measuring bounce rates is a vital part of this. They are also something Google considers when measuring whether users are getting what they are looking for from a site, so keeping them down is key.