5 Ways to Create a More Engaging User Experience
Arguably, the most important consideration when developing a website and engaging user experience (UX).
After all, the person who will be using it is the end-user, and you should make sure their experience with your brand and site is as optimised and seamless as possible.
Along with this line of thinking, you want their interactions with you to be comfortable and intuitive.
If they have a positive experience with your brand, they're more likely to come back for more — simple as that.
To this end, you have to change the way you think.
Instead of thinking as a webmaster, marketer or business owner, you have to place yourself in your user's shoes and look at your website through their eyes.
Why are they there? What are their needs? Why should they stay and continue browsing the rest of your site?
When you have the answer to those questions, you'll have an engaging user experience that makes users want to stick it out until the very end.
With that in mind, today we'll be covering five ways to do just that, i.e. create a more engaging UX your users will love.
Let's get started!
1 – Design for the End-User
As we just mentioned, the people who will use your website are your end-users.
With that information fresh in our mind, the most beneficial way of creating a more engaging user experience is by designing everything explicitly for them.
In other words, when you write your content, write for them and only them; when you design an image, create it for them and only them; when you implement your site's navigation, again, apply it for them and only them.
It may seem obvious, but the reality is that many people and brands think of their websites simply as extensions of themselves, and design everything accordingly.
They're technically not wrong; a website should reflect the branding and the people behind it, but this doesn't mean that their personality should dominate over everything else.
That is to say that at the forefront of every decision should be a consideration for the user:
- Will they find this navigation easy to use?
- Will they find this blog post helpful and insightful?
- Will they benefit from this new service?
Thinking back to the inception of the internet, it used to be the case that if someone had a hard time on a website, it was because he or she wasn't ‘tech-savvy' and most likely new to the online ecosystem.
That's not the case anymore; even the most archaic of people in the civilised world know how to navigate a website.
You can't just leave it to them to ‘learn' how to use your site on their own; you have to make it easy for them.
Another pervasive problem in the online world is that many design their websites for what they want, such as high search engine rankings.
Unfortunately, this usually means designing things for search engines like Google, which ultimately lowers UX because what a search engine crawler wants on a website is different from an actual user.
2 – Tell a Story
Part of making it easy for your users to use your website and creating an engaging user experience is how you talk to them and present your content.
That is to say, how you guide them through your website and along its pages until they arrive wherever you want them to end up.
As it happens to be, one of the best ways of doing this is by presenting a story.
Look at our past.
Throughout our history, from cave paintings and hieroglyphics to print and eBooks, a constant has been storytelling.
Whenever we wanted to convey information—any information—doing it through a story has been our go-to method – because it works.
For you, this means structuring your website and content accordingly and incorporating a theme, a setting, characters, a conflict and a plot.
For example, your users will be your characters and will deal with the conflict, or the struggle they're trying to overcome (i.e. the reason they're coming to you in the first place), and the plot will be what happens as the characters deal with the conflict and end up with a resolution (i.e. the solution your brand provides).
In doing so, you'll create higher engagement and remembrance amongst your users because you're presenting information in an easy-to-follow narrative that not only ‘guides' them throughout the journey you've laid out for them, but is one they're familiar and comfortable with.
In other words, it breaks down complex ideas and makes them easy to grasp, leading to more positive associations with your brand and, as a result, higher and more engaging user experiences.
3 – Utilise Emerging Technology
Another excellent way of creating an engaging user experience is by ‘entertaining' your users.
For you, this means giving them something shiny to play with.
Specific to our case, this ‘shiny' thing is emerging technology in the form of AI-enabled chatbots, which are a wonder for UX because they act as 24/7 customer service representatives that are always ready to help your users, and don't stop at helping one person at a time.
For example, if something comes up, such as a need to find a particular item they have in mind, all they need to is type out a query into the chat box and receive a near-immediate response.
Even better, as Appnova, a creative design agency based in London, said in a blog post about conversational commerce,
“This technology is so advanced that it has the capabilities of a human; the customer can ask a complex question or make a unique request, and the computer will sparse his or her words and understand precisely what the customer is asking for.”
4 – Vary Your Content
Just like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike — not even twins.
Regarding UX, this means that people will be engaged in different ways, and a cookie-cutter approach that treats everyone the same is the anathema of this.
Certain people respond better to certain types of content, and you can't use the same thing time after time.
For example, images may work exceptionally well for George, but Olivia finds them distracting and prefers short paragraphs that can be scanned; William may like videos that don't require as much critical thinking, but Nicole gravitates toward infographics that contain much information.
This is because people have different preferences, and you should always tailor your site accordingly, with varying forms of content instead of sticking to one or two types.
For the best results, try your hand in everything and see what your audience responds to be best.
Do your users respond particularly well to images?
What about videos?
How about infographics; are they shared more often than your blog posts?
When you know what works the best, place the most focus on that while still dabbling in other forms.
This will create a high and engaging user experience because you'll be serving your entire audience with what they like.
5 – Sometimes Less Is More
The phrase, less is more, is famous for a reason.
Consider today's day and age — a time when we're surrounded by flashing lights and stimulation.
Do you think bombarding your users with countless images, text or buttons is a good idea?
For those still debating, it is not.
Why add more noise and distraction to the mix?
Think about this: You have a website for a reason.
Maybe you want to sell something, or perhaps you have a story to tell.
Whatever the reason, you want site visitors to accomplish whatever it is you want them to achieve.
Well, how can they do whatever that is if they see this, that and a whole host of other things, all vying for their attention?
For this reason, white space will be your best friend.
You want to reduce the noise, and utilising white space is an excellent way of doing this.
Not only will it reduce the clutter and lessen the confusion, but it will also highlight what's most important for your users to know/see.
Remember, the goal here is to focus on what's important and eliminate what's not (e.g. anything that doesn't add value).
Let's Take a Second Look
A lot goes into an engaging user experience, and nothing should be neglected.
There's just no one thing that will work so wonderfully well that all else can be forsaken.
The opposite is true.
For the best and most engaging user experience, you need a mix of things that work in tandem to produce the desired effects on your users.
Let's go over them one more time:
Design for the end-user because they're the ones who'll be using your website.
Tell a story because storytelling is ingrained in our DNA.
Utilise emerging technology because people like shiny things.
Vary your content because cookie-cutter approaches don't work and people respond differently to the same thing.
Sometimes less is more because too much noise can distract from what's most important.
Best of luck!
Author Bio: Sabrina is a content writer for Appnova, a creative and web design agency based in London that specialises in all things digital. She writes on a variety of subjects that range from web development and user experience (UX) to growth hacking.
An example of creating an engaging user experience – Velvet Caviar
Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.