In today’s day and age, practically every business is accompanied by a website. Not only do customers expect this, but businesses have recognized websites as a viable channel to inform customers about their product / service and, hopefully, get them to convert, or at least enter the sales funnel. Many times, a company’s website is the first channel used by customers to judge the business.
As such, it is imperative that your website not only looks professional, but makes sense from a user’s perspective. This is where the term ‘user experience’ comes in, which can be defined as “the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use”. Unfortunately, the user experience is often neglected when creating or maintaining a website, which is why I have put together a comprehensive guide on improving your user journey as well as creating a customer journey map should you be serious about optimizing the user experience on your website.
9 Tips To Improve Your User Journey
1. Be Strategic With Your Call To Actions (CTAs)
Remember that when a user lands on one of the pages on your website, you want their next step to be clear. While this line of thought should be applied across all pages on your website, it is particularly important that you prioritize your home page. Unless analytics show that another page is experiencing more traffic.
Whether your end goal is to have them book an appointment with you, sign up for a webinar, or purchase something through an affiliate link, the journey to get there should be clear. Divide your CTAs as follows:
- Primary: Sends user straight to end goal, for example: ‘Book Now’.
- Secondary: Re-engages users who have fallen off of the sales funnel, for example: They may have clicked on a link to a blog post, so you may want to have a strategically placed banner on the side of your posts referring them back to the booking form.
- Tertiary: Prompts relevant information about the sales funnel, for example: the user may be confused as to what ‘Book Now’ means, so you may have a second, less obvious button next to this saying ‘Find Out More’.
2. Think Carefully About a Fixed Menu
Having a fixed, main menu or navigation at the top of your website can send mixed messages to your users. While it offers a nice overview of what you have to offer, it can also cause users to abandon the ‘soft’ path you’ve included in the page they’ve just landed on. This may result in them simply jumping from page to page and eventually leaving. Consider having a ‘burger stack’ (most often seen on mobile websites) on the top left corner that houses your main navigation, but in a less distracting manner.
3. Analyze Heat Maps
Consider making use of heat map software, such as HotJar, to study your users’ journeys. These maps will reveal scrolling patterns, most clicked links, and the general paths followed throughout your website. Based on this information, you will quickly notice areas in which you can improve.
4. Make Use Of Visual Elements
Make use of images to divide or introduce new sections. But, be sure to do so tastefully and in a way that makes sense. The types of images you use will set a certain mood across your website and initiate specific emotions from your users, so think carefully about this. Also be aware of copyright restrictions. Make use of platforms like Unsplash to steer clear of being sued. Consider including CTAs into your images for a stylish effect.
Also, think carefully about the colors used across your website. Perhaps do some research around what colors trigger what emotions and take it from there. Be sure to be consistent with your coloring, look and feel, and CTAs used. If you’re really feeling adventurous, consider adding a few simple animations to really catch your users’ eye. But, be sure to keep these to a minimum.
5. Remember, Less Is More
On that note, ensure that the overall look and feel of your website is clean. According to Crazy Egg, white space around text and titles increases user attention by 20%. Make use of bullets when listing large amounts of information and ensure your headings are well-written and well-designed.
Shorten the journey wherever possible. For example, the amount of clicks the user needs to perform in order to get to your booking page. Consider incorporating a search function on your blog enabling users to look for specific topics without having to scroll through all of your articles. If you’re able, or have an expert developer at hand, you can also add personalization in the form of suggesting content based on what specific users have previously read.
6. Provide Clear Feedback
The ideal user experience is one in which a user is assisted throughout the sales funnel. This results in a feeling of security and your business being seen as reliable. This can be achieved through clear explanations throughout the process as well as once an action has been made, for example: ‘Your form has successfully been submitted’.
7. Ensure Optimal Page Load Speed
Something that is often overlooked, yet remains vitally important, is the page load speed of your website. Think about when you’re scrolling through Facebook and you click on something that interests you. If that link takes more than a few seconds to load, you quickly lose interest and continue scrolling, right? Well, the same applies to someone trying to visit your website. Thankfully, Google offers a free service where you can get information on your page speed. Be sure to check it out and do what you can to improve the speed if necessary.
8. Eliminate 404s
Ever clicked on a link and been taken to a page that says something along the lines of “404 error – this page does not exist”. Annoying, isn’t it? 404s are to be avoided at all costs. To check if you have any 404s you can set up Google Webmaster tools on your website and check crawl errors, or you can use this free 404 check.
In the event that a 404 error pops up without you knowing, make sure you have a custom (preferably quirky) custom page that comes up including a link to somewhere else on the website. That way, the user journey won’t be entirely disrupted.
9. Make Sure Your Website Is Responsive
These days, the majority of traffic coming to your website is likely to be users browsing on their mobile devices. As such, it is vital that you ensure that your website is responsive. In other words, that it adjusts to fit the screen size of whichever device it is being viewed on. There is nothing worse than having to drag the website you are viewing left and right in order to try and get an understanding of the contents.
If you are not sure whether your website is mobile, you can use this free tool. If you are in the process of developing a website, always keep responsiveness in mind. The size of images, fonts, forms, and banners all come into play when viewing a website on a mobile device.
To check to see what your website looks like on a mobile device, use Chrome’s ‘Developer Tools’. Click on the three vertically positioned dots in the top right corner, go to ‘More Tools’ and then ‘Developer Tools’. Your screen will be split into two with various options on the right. Click on the icon of the phone and tablet, second from the left. You can then select different devices to see how your website responds.
Step-By-Step Guide To Customer Journey Mapping
“A Customer Journey Map is a visual or graphic interpretation of the overall story from an individual’s perspective of their relationship with an organization, service, product or brand, over time and across channels.”
I would recommend starting off with a simple user journey map and then developing it from there as your private practice, and website, grows. Feel free to include offline as well as online channels and touch points!
Components Of Customer Journey Map
A journey map highlights the important cross points between user expectations and business requirements. A customer experience map includes the following:
- Personas: ‘business avatars’ created around your ideal client.
- Timeline: the amount of time a users spends on your website / going through the various channels within the sales funnel.
- Emotion: emotions experienced by the user when browsing through your website.
- Touch points: for example, a user visiting your website or phoning your practice.
- Channels: for example, social media.
Process Of Customer Journey Map
The process of generating a user journey map is as follows:
1. Evaluate Goals
Make sure your goals are clearly defined and understood by all members of the organization. For example, what is the point of having a website? Where do you want to direct users once they have read an article? The end point of your customer journey must coincide with your main business goal.
2. Do Research
Make use of Google Analytics, surveys, and social media to identify your current users’ behavior, as well as your business avatar.
In Google Analytics, if you click on ‘Users Flow’ under the ‘Audience’ tab, you will see a clear funnel starting from Country and Starting Pages and then spreading out into the various interactions. This can be very informative for your business. Furthermore, click on the various options provided under Audience to get an idea of the type of people visiting your website.
3. Brainstorm Touch Points & Channels
Based on the above research, and of course your business goals, determine which touch points and channels are the most effective for your business and audience. Distinguish between major and minor touch points. For example, someone simply reading your blog would be a minor touch point, while someone filling in the contact form would be a major one. Also, map multiple paths at a single point. For example, how did the user land on your website? Was it through an organic search or social media? Finally, distinguish between onstage (what the customer can see) and offstage (what goes on in the background) touch points.
4. Include An Empathy Map
An empathy map is a “depiction of the various facets of a persona and his or her experiences in a given scenario”. For each stage in the journey, identify what the user might be feeling at that point. Include emotions like ‘frustrated’ or ‘anxious’ if applicable. Imagine yourself as the user and how you would be feeling at that specific point.
5. Involve The Whole Team
It is imperative to include the whole organizational team when putting together a customer journey map in order to gain different perspectives and viewpoints. You are more likely to map out an accurate user journey when various opinions are expressed and included.
6. Create An Affinity Diagram
An affinity diagram is a way to “visually organize ideas and find cohesion in the team’s concepts”. This can be done whichever way you deem best. But, once again, be sure to include everyone’s opinions and gain clarity on the persona, timeline, touch points, channels, and emotions experienced in the user journey.
7. Sketch The Journey
Finally, create your journey. If you are not sure what a customer journey map should look like, simply Google it and gain inspiration from the images found. There is no specific formula or method to creating a journey map, each one is different and should suit the business’ requirements and preferences. Maps can vary from a simple excel document to an expertly designed graphic. It’s completely up to you!
Once you’ve refined and digitized your user journey map, be sure to share it. This can be done within your business, or with your clients as well – depending on how transparent you wish to be.
Samantha Carvalho is the Chief Marketing Officer of Practice of the Practice. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and kitten. Over and above Practice of the Practice, she is passionate about women empowerment, fashion, and animals.