User experience design handles the strategic, narrative and structural design of digital experiences in service of persuasion, conversion and delight. There is a science and art of user experience design for marketing websites. Here is the list of best practices we have developed over the last 25 years:
1. Recognize that customers, not you, are the real hero of the story.
Great brands help their best prospects realize their personal hero’s journey. Resist the temptation to talk too much about yourself. Stay focused on your prospects.
2. Put the needs of the right-fit prospects first.
Begin your project by writing various use cases that capture the functional wants and psychological needs of your best prospects. To arrive at these, conduct primary research and review all secondary research you can find. Understand elements of brand value. Identify distinctive hooks that appeal to your prospects.
3. Sharpen your business strategy and your authentic brand position.
Ask your senior team simple questions: “What do you want more of? Who do you want more of? and Why?” The answers will help identify your most desirable prospects and how you wish to grow. Use these insights to test the user experiences you create.
4. Protect the franchise and liberate new prosperity.
A brand can neither fulfill its mission nor grow without money. A website should protect your core business, and expand into new markets/segments you can service well.
5. Make it beautiful.
All the hard work of strategy and planning is wasted if the website isn’t beautiful and distinctive. Hire the most talented designers to create your website experience.
6. Leverage technology to deliver the wow and ease-of-use.
The smoothest user experiences are usually created by heavy lifting by front-end and back-end developers. Hold the tension between these two opposing forces. Surprise the prospects with judicious deployment of carousels, slideshows, progress bars, accordions, filters, auto-completes and facet searches.
7. Infuse Persuasion Architecture at every level.
The Sitemap (org structure) and Wireframes (page schematics), and not just design and copy, should make a compelling argument. Balancing logic and emotion, stories and facts – progressively disclosing the information all help create brand preference. They all help prospects mitigate the risk of choosing your brand.
8. Ask for the business.
Persuade first, then ask, but don’t over-ask for the business. Quiet confidence wins. Lead the prospects to take the next steps.
9. Bake Search Engine Optimization and social into the user experience.
Since Google page one is the surest path to prosperity, weaving SEO and social thinking into every step will give your brand natural gains and momentum in achieving critical page one rankings. Well-constructed websites should naturally pull close to half of website traffic from search engines. Paid and social campaigns should be deployed to augment the natural momentum.
10. Follow up, deliver and sustain.
User experience design elevates expectations in follow up, delivery and customer service. Use the website redesign project to re-examine and streamline your business operations. Keep the website up-to-date with a toolkit including Keyword Lexicon, Brand Guide, Web Style Guide, and Content Governance Guide.
Creating great digital experiences is a highly collaborative process between business strategists, brand architects, user experience designers, story tellers, content strategists, interactive designers, front-end/back-end developers, search engine marketers, and your core senior/operating teams. Working with an outside agency requires a highly collaborative process between your team and the agency team.
Is there an ROI for Investing in User Experience? Employing these best practices is a labor of love with measurable gains in reputation, revenue and rankings. The early indicators of of ROI included quantitative measures such as halving of bounce rates, doubling of right-fit conversion, enhanced brand reputation/equity, doubling of search engine traffic, and more. After we helped reimagine, redesign and redevelop their websites, many of our clients have experienced inflection points in their business history.