User experience (UX) on the internet is more important than ever. The way how visitors are treated (and taken care of) on your website is a critical success factor.
When as much as 72% of happy customers share their experience with 6 more people and 13% of unhappy customers will share their experience with 15 people, you should seriously think on improving your website’s UX.
When your website has a poor UX, visitors will leave your website instantly without moving to another page. If visitors don’t get what they ‘expected’ or if you were unable to make them stick with persuasive UX, they will leave your website.
And that’s how UX will increase bounce rate.
While a high bounce rate isn’t a predictor of a poor UX, but a poor UX will definitely lead to a high bounce rate.
For example, the majority of the people wait 6–10 seconds for the website to load. If it doesn’t, they will leave your website.
Improving UX should be your top priority as it is linked to several critical metrics (bounce rate, churn rate, conversions, engagement, etc.). But what’s more important is its ROI. Every dollar spent on UX improvement returns anywhere between $2 and $100.
This is insane.
So how you can get started?
How to improve the UX of your website, provide visitors with an exceptional experience, and reduce bounce rate?
I'll cover 8 actionable ways that will help you improve UX and reduce bounce rate.
1. Improve Site Load Time
If you have a high bounce rate, low conversion rate, and poor session duration, website speed is the number one culprit that you should check.
When your website isn’t fast, visitors won’t wait for it to load – they will switch or press the back button. Why?
Because they have tons of other options to choose from.
… and this.
Only 27% of visitors won’t leave your website if it has a poor load speed, and these are your loyal customers.
Increasing load time by a mere one second has a significant impact on user experience. Every second counts on the internet.
Here is how you can improve UX and reduce bounce rate by improving website speed.
Website Speed Test
The first step is to test your website’s speed and see how it’s doing.
Google has a free PageSpeed Insights tool that lets you monitor your site’s load time (mobile + desktop) in a few minutes.
You'll get detailed instructions on what are the issues and how to fix them to improve load time.
You'll see a lot of opportunities and information related to individual elements on your website.
Pingdom is another powerful page speed optimization tool that offers you with actionable insights on how to improve speed at page level. However, it isn’t free so it isn’t a preferred choice of most businesses.
After analyzing your site’s speed, the next step is optimization. The average load speed of a desktop website is 3.21 seconds and on mobile its 15.3 seconds. If your website isn’t doing any better, follow the guidelines below for improvement.
It’s hard to have a website without images.
Your audience loves interacting with images, photos, and infographics. Having a lot of images will slow down your website especially if you’re using large image files.
Follow these image optimization tips:
- Compress images using an appropriate tool like ImageOptim or a WordPress plugin like EWWW Image Optimizer.
- Switch to HTML responsive images that automatically adjust size based on device.
- Use vector images (.EPS extension) as they have significantly small size.
- Compress images in Photoshop or a relevant program to avoid quality issues (if you aren’t using .EPS).
Use Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) stores copies of your website on different servers across the globe. A server close to a user’s geographical location will serve your website, thus improving your website’s speed.
Statistics show that 81% of the top 10K global websites use a CDN. Its time you use it to improve speed, performance, and improve UX.
- Fix code. Remove unnecessary codes, comments, and formatting errors.
- Follow Google guidelines via PageSpeed Insights.
Get Rid of Plugins
If you’re using WordPress or any other CMS, you need to get rid of all the unnecessary plugins. They make your website slow.
- Uninstall a plugin if you don’t need it.
- Don’t install unnecessary plugins.
- Deactivating a plugin won’t remove it from installation. Uninstall it.
Browsers store a lot of information about your website when a user visits your website. This information is used on the subsequent visits which make your website load super-fast because now data isn’t pulled from the server.
W3 Total Cache is a great plugin to leverage caching.
2. Website Design
Your website’s design has a lot to do with UX. In fact, it all comes down to website design. According to Steve Jobs:
“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like … Design is how it works.''
Make your website’s design user-friendly and it will make UX great. The design should help and guide visitors to achieve their goal (the reason why they visited your website).
If design doesn’t help them get what they're looking for, they will leave your website (high bounce rate).
If you visit this website, what’d be your immediate reaction?
You'll close the browser tab or click back button, right?
Because its design isn’t user-friendly. No menu. No headline. No CTA. Poor color combination.
Don't do this to your website.
There are several things you can do to improve website design to improve UX.
- Use a simple website design one that’s responsive and isn’t too heavy.
- Use a powerful headline on every web page to clearly tell visitors what this page is about.
- Add a menu bar. This will allow users to access different parts of your website without getting lost.
- Use breadcrumbs to let visitors know where exactly they're on your website and how they can move one level up or down.
- Utilize above the fold area smartly to improve UX. Provide visitors with all the necessary information above the fold so they can take action should they decide not to scroll.
- Use directional cues to help visitors get what they want quickly.
- Use short forms so as to keep users hooked.
- Focus on other design-related details like the color scheme, typography, layout, hierarchy, element placements, background, etc. with an intention to make visitor’s life easier.
The idea is to grab visitor attention as soon as they land and keep them hooked. You have only 8 seconds to do it.
3. CTA Optimization
A clear call to action (CTA) having an action word is what visitors need to get what they want. Not having a CTA at all or having an unclear CTA will ruin UX.
Why a CTA is so important anyway?
It tells visitors what action they're supposed to take after landing on your website.
Here is an example from Hotjar.
They have two CTAs that are clearly visible and fairly descriptive. If you visit this page, you'll know what exactly you have to do i.e. try it free.
Even if you don’t scroll down, you'll still be able to get what you want from Hotjar.
When you use clear, persuasive, and visually pleasing CTAs, you’re not hard selling rather you’re helping visitors get what they want without getting distracted.
Tweaking and optimizing CTAs is a continuous process as it is related to conversions, however, there are several best practices that you can incorporate to improve UX.
- Use CTA above the fold. This is to ensure visitors see it as soon as they land and know what they have to do next.
- Make CTA stand out from the crowd. Make it prominent by using contrasting colors. Don’t mix it with the color scheme of your landing page or background. It should be the most visible element on your page.
- Use visual cues such as an arrow to direct visitor’s attention to your CTA. Again, the purpose here is to let them know what’s the next logical step is.
- Keep the copy of your CTA descriptive. Instead of using ‘Click Here’, use ‘Get free trial’. The more descriptive it is, the better.
- Use action and power words to persuade visitors to click CTA. Use words like get, free, reserve, download, etc. to persuade visitors to take action.
- Make sure your CTA has enough white space around it. Don’t make it appear cluttered. White space around the CTA button will make it prominent.
- Split test your CTA. There isn’t any good or bad CTA rather the best is one that grabs attention. And to find the best CTA for your buyer personas, you need to A/B test a lot of different variations.
4. Optimize Landing Page
Why use a landing page when you have a homepage?
Well, landing pages improve UX because they're laser targeted.
They target buyer personas and not your entire audience. So a landing page is more likely to have a low bounce rate as compared to your website’s homepage.
The best part: Landing pages help you generate leads.
Businesses that use 40+ landing pages generate 12x more leads than businesses with 5+ landing pages.
Optimizing landing page is a perfect way to improve UX at buyer persona level since your landing pages target different personas. Creating landing pages that are relevant to a specific persona will naturally have a low bounce rate because it will address visitor needs, problems, fears, challenges, and will provide a relevant solution.
Here is how you can optimize a landing page to enhance UX.
- Set a clear goal for every landing page that you create and target one and only one buyer persona.
- Use a catchy headline to grab attention. If your headline doesn’t persuade visitors to keep reading, they won’t wait to click back button.
- Make landing page relevant to ad copy. Any irrelevancy between ad copy and landing page will make visitors leave immediately.
- Reduce the number of actions visitors have to take on a landing page. Remove navigation, unnecessary hyperlinks, and extra form fields. Keep it straight and to-the-point.
- Remove friction and distraction by getting rid of unnecessary elements. Stick with one offer per landing page.
- Use above the fold area smartly by adding a CTA and form.
- Use images and videos to keep visitors hooked.
Here is an example of how your landing page should look like:
5. Use White Space
Yes, white space is an essential element that significantly improves UX.
It makes it easier for visitors to focus on important parts of your website by identifying them. A website with white space has all the elements identifiable while a cluttered website appears to be untidy and nothing seems noticeable.
Here is an example of how white space ruins content and UX.
Here is a page that doesn’t have much white space.
Now see how Asana adds a lot of white space to make everything clear and identifiable.
Here is how white space improves UX:
- It makes readability easy.
- It improves comprehension.
- White space makes it easier for readers to remember what they read or see.
Follow these actionable tips to get better at using white space on your website:
- Add white space around critical elements on your page, such as CTA and headline because white space makes elements identifiable which makes getting visitor attention easier.
- Use white space to separate elements. For instance, adding white space between a CTA button and headline will make them two different elements. If you remove white space, they will merge into a single element.
- Use it to make your website and pages clean and clutter-free.
6. Use Images
High-quality images drive user experience.
In fact, people love interacting with images more than text.
Images make it easier for people to remember what they see. When you see an image, you remember 65% of it after 3 days as opposed to reading text where you just remember 10% of it after 3 days.
I'm sure you already use images on all types of pages on your website but do they really improve UX? Here is how to use these images to make user experience better.
- Use large images as they're visually appealing. They grab attention.
- Images of real persons are your best bet.
- Refrain from using stock images.
- Add image above the fold to make it visible to all the visitors.
- Optimize images. If images take time to load, your bounce rate will skyrocket.
- Make images relevant to the copy. You don’t have to necessarily use them on all types of pages.
7. Improve Headlines
Why people visit your website?
To solve their problem or to get information.
How you provide them with a solution to their problem or information?
So it’s all about the content that you have on your website.
And the content starts with a headline.
If everything else on your website is top-notch but headline fails to grab attention, visitors will leave.
Statistics show that 80% of people read the headline and only 20% will read your copy. This shows the importance of the headline on any web page.
GetResponse uses a powerful yet prominent headline that is fairly large than the description. You cannot avoid reading such a headline that’s so prominent.
Not just the primary headline but subheadings are of equal importance when it comes to improving UX. The majority of the people scan content on the internet and that’s where subheadings play their role.
Subheadings improve UX by making it easier for scanners to scan content.
There are several ways to optimize headlines.
- Headline should be relevant to the copy. Irrelevancy between headline and the content will force readers to leave your website.
- Headline should be above the fold. In fact, it should be the first thing visitors see after they land.
- Surround headline with white space to make it prominent and a separate element that visitors should read.
- Create subheadings to distribute content into separate sections. This makes scanning easier.
- Headings and subheadings should be prominent and big enough so visitors can spot them.
- Make headline catchy by using power and action words. Use of ‘will make you’ phrase in the headline will make it catchy and engaging.
8. 404 Treatment
If there is one thing that hurts UX the most, its 404 pages.
A person landing on a 404 page on your website has no option but to leave your website. These pages are a hurdle in user’s journey and interaction with your website.
You can identify 404 pages via Google Search Console. Check for crawl errors to see 404 pages.
If you have 404 pages, you need to redirect them to a relevant page on your website. This is the best thing you can do.
However, it’s impossible to always have a relevant page. In such cases, you need to create a custom 404 page so as to keep users engaged and to provide them with better UX.
Yes, it’s absolutely OK to have 404 pages on your website. It’s normal and Google recommends having a custom 404 page.
The idea is to keep users on your website without hurting UX.
Create a visually pleasing and interesting 404 page with a search bar, a link to your homepage, links to other important pages on your website, and apologize.
Here is a great 404 page by MailChimp.
It has a primary menu, witty explanation, and footer with critical links.
Here is a 404 page by Pixar.
Create a similar type of 404 page for your website to improve UX, reduce bounce rate, and keep visitors on your site.
If you’re using WordPress, try 404Page plugin to create a custom 404 page.
Reducing bounce rate and improving UX don’t end here. The 8 techniques discussed in this article cover the basics. You still need to go a long way.
UX improvement is a continuous process. You have to tweak different elements of your website several times to see a significant impact on conversions, bounce rate, and other metrics.
It’s not a silver bullet.
And it is not a one-off task.
Keep improving UX, you won’t regret it.