User Experience or UX is a term tossed around in the web development world.  In this post, I will explain what I feel that User Experience is and what it is not.

What User Experience Is Not

User Experience is not the design.  You can have a great design and a lousy user experience.  Conversely, you can have a very simple design and a great user experience.  This is because the user experience is not the design.  Now, the design is part of it, but the design is only one aspect of it.  Unfortunately, I see way too many websites where it is very obvious that the developers where very concerned about how it looked (the design) but not much else because it is really pretty but it was really hard to find what I wanted.

What User Experience Is

If you want a good example of a great user experience look at the Disney Parks.  There are many entertainment options that cost way less, so why to people still pay big bucks and flock from all over the world to go to Disney?  Because they provide a great experience from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave.

I define user experience as the ability of the user to interact with the product in an easy and enjoyable way.  The following items are key to a good user experience:

  1. Relevant Content.  If the content is relevant users will love the experience.  If it is really out of date your site won’t do so well.  I’ve seen business that have blogs where the latest post is from 2 years ago.  That makes for a bad experience.  Conversely, Amazon.com is a great user experience.  Their products are easy to find, its easy to check out and you get the item really quickly (and you can see the order stats at any time).
  2. Clear Navigation. If it is really hard for users to find what they are looking for they leave and go elsewhere.  It is that simple.  My rule of thumb is this: if it takes more than 3 clicks from the homepage to find the page they are looking for, then it is not a good user experience.  Move those items into a menu item accessible from the home page.
  3. Mobile Friendly. Way too many sites aren’t mobile at all.  If you want to stand out make yours mobile.  I have found that only about 20% of website I view are mobile.  Also, on the mobile site don’t try to load everything you would on the desktop site.  You wouldn’t try to fit all the furniture from a 5 bedroom house into a 2 bedroom condo, so don’t try to load everything from a desktop site on a mobile site.
  4. Security.  People want to feel safe.  If they go to your site and it is not secured correctly, they will leave (especially if they are buying). It is really easy to run a secure site using SSL Certificates and running over https.  Read this post to learn more.  Make sure your site is secure and it will help people feel safe and comfortable on you site.

 

So put yourself in the user’s shoes.  If you went to your own website, would it be a good experience or would you leave?  If you would leave, then go change it so people don’t want to leave.  If you wouldn’t leave, keep doing what you are doing…your are the right track.

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If you are reading this, I am assuming you have a website and you want people to actually find it.  That is why you put it up after all.  In this article I will give an overview of how to do just that, get found by your target audience.  This process is called search engine optimization or SEO for short.

No Quick Solutions

Let me give you an example of good SEO strategy.  If you want want some really good food, are you able to cook it in 90 seconds?  No, really high quality food takes time to effectively prep and cook.  The quick solution may fill your belly but is will never taste as good as some slow cooked bar-b-que.

Quality SEO works the same way, it takes time, but done correctly will work better.  I say this because some people offering SEO services promise the world (we will make your brand new site #1 on Google in 24 hours).  Don’t hire them.  If you do hire an outside consultant or do it yourself know that for it to be effective it will take some time and effort.

Do Your Homework

This is the first step.  You need to know your ideal audience and the terms that you think they may be searching for to find you.   The better you know them, the better you can utilize target keywords.  Many ways exist to find the right keywords including customer surveys, names of products or services you offer, and keyword research tools.  So how do you use the keywords?  There are two ways, which I shall discuss in the next sections.

Keywords In Meta Tags

The first strategy is to use the keyword meta tags.  Meta tags are loaded by the web browser but are not seen be the end user unless they view the page’s code.  These tags include descriptive information about the page.  One of these is a keyword tag.  If your website runs on WordPress or some other CMS, chances are that you can use a plugin to add the required keywords.

But only use a few keywords and only keywords that are actually relevant.  That is because in the past some people tried to improve their ranking by using keyword spam where they would put dozens of keywords onto their webpage’s meta tag.  This is rarely done anymore because the search engines became aware of the tactic and now penalize websites that do this.

As an example if you have a website for a hot dog stand you might have keywords such as: hot dog, corn dog, ketchup, mustard and relish.  But notice all of these are relevant to a hot dog stand.

Keywords In Your Content

The second method for using the keywords is to work them into the content of the website.  That is a best practice and is one of the recommended strategies by Google’s SEO guide.  To demonstrate this using our hot dog stand example, the website for our hot dog stand may have pages where they talk about serving hot dogs and corn dogs as well as their condiments of ketchup, mustard and relish.  All of the keywords they want people to use to find them are included in the content of the website.

One quick note about content.  I am a big believer that creating fresh content helps your website.  If you have quality content, it gives your users reasons to come back.  The search engines really like fresh content too.  So fresh content is good for both existing users and the users that have not yet discover you.

Recap

To recap we discussed why SEO takes some time, how to use keywords in meta tags and how to use keywords in your content will all help your SEO rankings.  There is a lot more to your SEO strategy but this should get you started.

So what do you think?  Leave your comments below.  If you enjoyed this article and would like to get more content, please follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page.


Resources

Google SEO Starter Guide

Keyword Research Tool

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