One Critical Marketing Factor Your Site Shouldn’t Neglect

Posted by Adam Green - October 10, 2011 - Design/Development - 6 Comments

In the inbound marketing blogosphere, there’s no shortage of information about SEO, PPC, and social media. But with so much attention lavished upon “the big three,” it’s easy to forget another integral element of any Web marketing effort – user experience.

User experience is essential. Why? Because even if your SEO is good and you’re bringing eyes to your business via social media, no one is going to hang around your Website very long if its structure, design, and navigation induce headaches.

Sites cluttered with ads are often guilty of this. So are sites that load slowly.

But user experience goes beyond visual clutter and load times. Even sites that load relatively quickly may include navigational elements that make visitors want to pull their hair out.

For clarity, two examples

Let’s take a look at two high-traffic sites that occasionally publish similar content: Forbes and the Huffington Post.

While neither is a business Website, per se, site administrators can still learn a thing or two about user experience from the way each site tackles the following subject: Bike-friendly cities in the United States.

We’ll consider the Forbes article first. Although its title is “America’s Best Cities for Bikers,” you’d have a hard time finding a list of them.

From Forbes.com

The title implies that there will be a list of cities somewhere, but all I see is a very short article scrunched so far over to the left that it looks like Forbes doesn’t know the difference between a content area and a sidebar.

To actually see a list of cities, you have to click on the caption beneath a photo of a bicycle in a bike lane – not exactly intuitive.

What’s more, as soon as you arrive at your list of bike-friendly cities and click “next,” it’s clear that Forbes is making you load a new page for each of ten cities it includes.

Loading new pages takes up a good chunk of time. Would it have been so hard to just publish the list of cities on a single page?

A better approach

Now we’ll look at how the Huffington Post displays America’s most bike-friendly cities. After a short article that sends readers straight to the list, it’s clear that we’re supposed to “scroll” through each city by clicking the little arrows in the title box.

From HuffingtonPost.com

Now you might think that the Huffington Post’s list will take you longer to view since it contains twenty cities to Forbes’s ten, but that’s far from the case. Since it’s so easy to move through the list, users can see all of the cities in no time.

And they don’t even have to leave the page.

Sure, neither Forbes nor the Huffington Post is a small business Website or a niche blog, but the user experience lesson in this example can apply to any site. Give your audience something with a logical flow. Something easy to digest. Something intuitive.

Then, who knows? They may even tell their friends to stop by.

About the Author

Adam Green

Adam Green writes about marketing "stuff." He's also a fraud detection advocate and ultralight backpacking enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @IAmAdamGreen.
6 comments
Noel Addison
Noel Addison

Clarity is all about the relationships between elements, it shows "what is part of what"," what is different from what" and "how different elements relate to each other" . Contrast is the primary tool of eye control. Contrast attracts the eye, and it’s the easiest surface mechanism to employ. In order to work, contrast needs to be balanced against areas of low contrast. My recent post Selling Ice Cubes to Eskimos

worldwideparcel
worldwideparcel

In my experience, keeping your website as user-friendly as possible is the best thing you can do to ensure your site works well for, obviously your users, but for search engines too. The easier that a user can use and engage with your content, the more likely they are to enjoy it and share that resource later on - whether via a link in their blog or through social media, it increases the chances dramatically. Your post is a great example of this.

Austin Realtors
Austin Realtors

Keeping a user-friendly site is important especially for businesses. A business' website is the go-to place that is available and accessible 24/7. If it's something that its users can't navigate through and couldn't understand, it may pull the business down. You wouldn't want a customer going in circles just looking for your contact details on your site, would you? The website content should also be relevant to the business and always up to date. It is something that can be reached wherever your users are so keeping it up to date is also important.

A Website Designer
A Website Designer

Nice post, I like the idea of learning from big businesses. Sometimes they do terrible things with their sites but other times they do some great stuff that you can easily apply to small businesses. At the end of the day they have the money and resources to pour into great sites, test designs and continue to evolve them so there's got to be lots that small businesses can take away from them. In your example, definitely the idea of using more images is one thing that people appreciate. My recent post Small business search engine domination

JohnC
JohnC

Well, user experience is a good reference but still we are learning everyday so it is not that important. Yes,if the SEO is good yet lack of experience is some technique? what I do is make conversation and boom I'm learning it slowly to cope up with the competition. You have great facts, it's helpful. Thanks! My recent post $10B paid to Gulf oil spill victims so far

Caleb Lane
Caleb Lane

Most people know that the page load time is an important factor with user experience, but don't know how to speed up their site necessarily. A great website to see how you can improve your websites speed is gtmetrix.com. It will give you recommendations on what Google and Yahoo recommend to speed up your site. The biggest three things you can do to see significant improvements are enabling g-zip compression, leverage browser caching, and minifying the JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. You can check out these three resources below on how to fix these issues. 1. http://betterexplained.com/articles/how-to-optimi... 2. http://thomasgriffinmedia.com/blog/2010/11/how-to... 3. WP Minify which is a WordPress plugin My recent post SEO in the Future with Social Media