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.
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.
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.