When it comes to website UX best practices, you don’t need to be an expert to understand what works. In working on many small business marketing sites, we’ve found there are some basic best practices we apply to almost all of them. The theme to these best practices is simplicity. Even these basic best practices can have a huge impact on how well your site engages with visitors.
1. Navigation Call to Action
What is the main thing your want your visitor to do on your site? Is to request a quote? Sign up for service? Put it in the navigation. We like to add a simple call to action button or link in navigations to make that step easy to find for visitors. Design the call to a action to pull visual weight against the other navigation items but remember; less is more with this approach. If you start adding multiple calls to action, the likelihood of clicking goes down.
2. Use Your Homepage to Tell a Story and Lead Your Visitor In
Don’t leave it up to your visitor to figure out where to go on your site. Your homepage should be laser focused on being the first step in a funnel towards your most important information and calls to action. To do this, treat your homepage like a press release or news article. The most important, valuable information should come first.
3. Simplified Headers
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—avoid homepage carousels like the plague. Remember how we talked about having laser focus on your homepage? Carousels are the opposite of that. However, we’re here to teach you what should do. Use the header on your site to focus on your most powerful message (or unique value proposition) and call to action. Give your visitor no more than 2 actions to take from the top of your homepage.
Also consider how those calls to action can aid the user better. For example, if your site has two distinct audiences like “buyers” and “sellers” you can use your header to immediately get each to where they need to go on your site.
4. Smart use of Sidebars
Have you ever visited a website where everything under the sun is in the sidebar on every page? When sidebars become a dumping ground for every call to action and every piece of content on a site, it defeats their purpose. When we employ sidebars, we always identify 1-3 calls to action that logically make sense with the content on the page. If you want visitors to stick around, you can use the sidebar to send them to the content they’ve already established they’re interested in, just by being on that page.
5. Useful Footers
Footers aren’t just for site maps anymore, and sometimes footers extend beyond the small space at the bottom of the page. They’re an opportunity to engage with your visitor, and provide something useful. Here are some elements we always build in, or consider adding depending on the client’s goals.
Sometimes, the biggest barrier to a visitor contacting you is having to click. By providing a quick contact form that’s accessible from any page, you create more opportunities to capture leads at the very moment that their interest is piqued.
Email Newsletter Sign Up
Sometimes newsletter sign ups end up buried in a sidebar somewhere. Adding a sign up bar as part of your footer can give it a permanent place to live.
Social Feed or Follow Call to Action
If social media is a large part of your marketing push, give it a prominent spot at the end of every page. Instead of just sticking the icons at the very bottom, consider creating an entire section dedicated to promoting your social media accounts.
Now, take a look at your own website and see if you’re using any of these simple layout and content techniques for better UX. These best practices may open you up to recognizing weaknesses you didn’t notice before.