As visitors begin to use a web page they may be drawn into the page and continue to surf or they may quickly use their browser’s back button to leave the page. There is a fine art to keeping a visitor interested and on the page. Take this one step further to getting visitors to return to the page time and time again, and you have a successful web site. The user experience is critical to keeping users engaged on a web page and to get them to return at a later time. Elements such as ease of use, socialness, interactivity, and perceived entertainment or information value are crucial to the user experience and will keep users coming back.
One major element to a website’s success is its ease of use. If visitors cannot navigate the site to find the information they are looking for they will leave. Navigation must be simple and intuitive since the marketer cannot directly engage the user and show them around or answer questions. Forms must be uncomplicated and clearly marked and menus must be simple and elegant. A menu that contains too many options or drills down too many levels may add confusion to the user experience, and is not likely to be useful to visitors. The more complex and difficult a web page is to navigate or operate, the more people will turn away and look elsewhere for an easier solution.
Socialness is also a critical element to the user experience. Making the users feel more like they are communicating with a human and less like with a computer make the experience much better. Websites that add social cues such as remembering a user’s name or allowing users to interact with the site improve the overall experience and make users much more likely to return to the site (Wakefield, Wakefield, Baker, & Wang, 2011). These social cues prompt a behavioral reaction in users that cause them to treat the computer as a social actor and respond accordingly. Other elements such as social networking aspects of allowing users to contribute to the site also make the page more enjoyable. When a user can contribute to the site it brings about a positive emotion that makes a user feel more connected to the site. This brings the user experience up a notch, and creates enjoyment by users making them more likely to return for more.
Interactivity is another crucial element to the user experience, and also makes websites more enjoyable. This is something that traditional media and promotion cannot achieve, making the internet a unique medium to allow users to interact with a company. This can include 360 degree animations or allowing users to manipulate product features. This interactivity is key to the user experience (Gao, 2011). Allowing users to interact with a product brings them closer and is almost like putting the product in their hands. This allows users to feel connected to the product and offers them a way to experience the product itself. The ability to interact with a product makes the customer much more likely to purchase or return to the site to explore more later.
Another critical element to the user experience equation is entertainment and information. Websites can add value to the user experience by allowing a user to enjoy themselves or allowing them to acquire information. Entertainment can be achieved by using humor, which gets the visitor’s attention and aids in comprehension, making them more likely to purchase and adding to the experience (Gao, 2011). Humor makes the web experience more enjoyable and elicits positive emotions in visitors. The ability of a website to act as an information resource also adds to the user experience since users are benefiting from using the site. This gives something to users and also offers them a reason to come back to the site. This information value can also position the site as an expert on the subject. Users are much more likely to be entertained by a site if they can learn something useful from it.
These components can be used alone or in tandem to achieve the best possible user experience. Ease of use, socialness, interactivity, and entertainment can all make a website better for users, which means they are more likely to purchase or return at a later time. In effect, this makes the website more successful overall if the objectives are to increase sales or traffic. These concepts should be implemented in any website to ensure success.
Gao, Y. (2011). An experiemental study of the effects of interactivity and humor in e-commerce. The Review of Business Information Systems, 15(1), 9-14. Retrieved from Proquest Database
Wakefield, R., Wakefield, K., Baker, J. & Wang, L. (2011, January). How website socialness leads to website use. European Journal of Information Systems, 20(1), 118-132. Retrieved from Proquest Database