When creating or redesigning a website, it is easy to get caught up on any number of different aspects – color scheme, purchase funnel, layout, bounce rate; the list goes on. And nobody could fault you for focusing efforts on any of those variables, or any other metric. But through it all, it is crucial that we keep one variable, perhaps the most important variable, in mind: the user.
Fostering a great user experience should be the top priority when designing or optimizing any website. After all, whether your site exists to convey information, host articles or forums, or sell products or services, it will not survive for very long if its user experience is subpar. The math is simple – if a site visitor struggles to get your site to load, or can’t find the product or piece of information for which he/she came to your site in the first place, that visitor will likely not return to your site. And if one person has a poor experience with your site, he/she is not alone.
Amazon.com underwent myriad tweaks and design changes to the homepage, as it grew throughout the 1990s. It was held back, however, from reaching its full potential, due to a fixation on tabbed browsing being the primary way users located products. By 2001, the tabbed browsing display had gotten quite cluttered, to say the least:
Recognizing a need for change, Amazon brought in Larry Tesler, to optimize the user experience. Tesler, realizing that the average user preferred to search, not browse, nixed tabs as the prominent navigational method. He brought search front and center, and moved the tabs to the left side, out of the way:
This helped Amazon continue its massive growth trajectory, and solidify its status as the leader in the online retail space.
It is easy to lock in on a concept or idea, especially if it is one of our own design. But in doing so, we shut ourselves off to outside perspectives, and often times fail to realize that what we think is best, might be best in our minds, but much less so, for the average user. Only by keeping user experience top of mind, will our websites truly be allowed to reach their full potential.
Contributed by: Aaron Horowitz, Digital Marketing Strategist
Screenshots and Amazon information courtesy of Shyamala Prayaga / ‘Great User Experience Leads to Conversions’