Why user experience matters for business websites
For business and professional services firms, the website is a major opportunity to compete for the attention of prospective clients and convince them of their ability to resolve key business challenges.
An estimated 6 to ten decision makers now comprise a business buying journey according to research by Gartner, with each of them seeking 5-6 resources to report back on. Some information might come from industry contacts or the press, as well as your website. You only have full control over the latter so it’s worth making sure that key messages are positioned to cut through with clarity and precision.
The importance of user experience
How can the client-facing and business development teams assess if their website is fit for purpose?
Always start with the users of the website. A visitor’s experience must quickly and seamlessly meet their needs. First impressions count with Google research suggesting that visitors start to form an opinion in just 0.05 seconds. So give consideration to the following five areas:
If you have primary research or a strong understanding of how your target audience seeks information about your services, this is an excellent starting point for the structure and hierarchy of information on the website. A key question should be: is your offering presented as solutions to the audience’s problems? Visitors will immediately scan for signs of relevance: they need to know that you understand their challenges and why you’re the right solution, before they get to the specific features of your service offering.
Less is more. Not only can a more minimalist approach support faster page loading times and readability by search engines, it also means each piece of content has greater impact. Consider how prospective clients move forwards in their decision to work with you: the website is only one part of this so it’s perhaps not necessary to include every single detail of your offering. The most important are those pieces that will lead them to the next step of sending an email or making a phone call. And if these are the actions you want to visitors to take, make sure you are explicit and signpost how they can do this.
SEO is a topic all of its own but the salient points here are that it supports a positive user experience, and that it is considered an ongoing process rather than a tick box exercise. Good practice technical optimisation includes configuration to support fast loading speeds (ideally less than 2 seconds and definitely no more than 4), relevant meta descriptions and image tags (how search engines categorise and assess the relevance of copy and images). Together with a commonsense approach to keywords that is focused on the search terms used by the audience rather than industry jargon, these essential elements help your site to rank more highly on search engines. Building backlinks (from external sites to your own) and updating content or adding new blogs all help to maintain the relevance of your site and its search engine ranking.
Encouraging prospects to visit the website through digital marketing activity including social media and email newsletters has multiple benefits. It signals to the search engines that more frequently viewed content is relevant to your audience, thereby improving the page ranking. It also has cumulative benefits: for example, visitors from social media who have a positive experience when they click through to your site are more likely to consider it a trustworthy source. Both social media and website impressions are likely to enjoy an uplift as a result.
The use of tools such as Google Analytics help you understand which website pages are being visited most (and the opposite), user behaviour on the site and offer the ability to track specific campaign activity. For more sophisticated website visitor identification as part of business development initiatives, tools such as Lead Forensics offer a significant boost to lead generation and conversion efforts.
Attention spans in the digital world are shorter than ever but communication via your website is 100% in your control so it offers a window of opportunity to support business development. If your site is easily discoverable and your prospective audience have a positive experience in the first few seconds of their visit, chances are you’ve got the basis of a winning formula.
If you’d like to find out more about how you could improve a current website or if you should consider re-developing it, contact one of our team for a chat.