I am often approached by people who are dissatisfied with their website. Sometimes, they’re experiencing big problems like being hacked, and sometimes it’s smaller things like slow load times or outdated design. Everyone wants to know “how do I make my website better?” Here are five things you can do to improve the user experience on your WordPress website.
01 Address load time issues
Speed matters so much to a user and to Google. The amount of time it takes for a page to load on your website directly affects the number of users you have. When page load time goes from 1s to 3s, the probability of a bounce increases by 32%! But with full-screen images and videos, the size of a page is getting bigger. So how are we supposed to keep load times small while maintaining beautiful visuals?
a) Optimize your images
Yes, retina displays require more pixels per inch to look good, but you can still optimize your images. For instance, if the slot on your website holds an image that is 400px wide, you do not need to upload an image that is 2000px wide. Similarly, don’t upload 300dpi images to your website; it’s unnecessary. 72dpi is still the standard for web design.
You don’t need Photoshop to resize your images either. If you’re using a Mac, you can use Preview to adjust both dimensions and resolution of an image. If you’re using a PC, you can use good ole Paint.
Elegant Themes tested a bunch of image optimization plugins for WordPress and created a nice list. Design It Please uses EWWW Image Optimizer and their ExactDN to load images quickly.
b) Minify your code
Some themes, like Divi, come with a built-in minification option. That’s great, and you should use it if you’ve got it. If your theme doesn’t have that option, go ahead and try out Autoptimize. It’s a free plugin that’s easy to set up. Minification won’t shave seconds off your website’s load time, but it will help with the milliseconds.
c) Update your plugins, theme, and WordPress core
Much like a car, maintenance actually makes your website run faster! As development matures, new, faster techniques are utilized. Make sure you have a backup of your site files and database (just in case) before updating, and then click that Update button!
d) Choose a great website host
Your web host matters. All hosts are not created equal. Some are faster than others. Some are more reliable than others. The best WordPress host we always recommend is WPEngine. I love them so much I wrote a whole post about them.
If you find these technical aspects of your website to be a bit intimidating, Design It Please can always help you with on-going WordPress maintenance and improving your site speed, too.
02 Have clear calls-to-action (even in blog posts!)
Clear calls-to-action are the difference between a website that converts and one that doesn’t. If you want the user to do something, explain the benefits and lead them to the water. Yes, even on your blog posts, you should have some sort of call-to-action. It could be a simple contact button, a social share, or a relevant PDF download in exchange for the user’s email address.
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03 Re-write your headlines to be user-focused
Are your headlines focused on you or the user? Make sure they’re focused on the user. If you know your buyer’s personas, you know your user’s pain points and goals. Write your headlines so that they appeal to your user’s emotions surrounding the pain point and/or goal. Then, you can explain how you help accomplish their goal.
Unbounce has a great post on headline formulas that you should check out.
04 Give people a reason to come back
If there’s nothing new on your website, why would someone come back? Creating new content is important. A blog is an easy way to create content for your users. Take some time this week for brainstorming. I’m sure you have things to say that would be helpful and interesting to your users.
Remember, it doesn’t just have to be words. Use images, use video, use audio. Experiment with different mediums to see what you like and what resonates most with your user. Have you ever thought of starting a podcast or YouTube channel?
Once you have a list of ideas, create a content schedule. Content calendars or editorial calendars really help with organization, especially across a team. Using a tool like AirTable to collect ideas, assign tasks, and plan blogs and social media posts is immensely productive.
05 Use Google Analytics
Remember those SMART goals you established for your website? It’s time to track them! This is how you can determine if your website is truly working for you. Either you’ll hit your goals or you won’t. If you don’t, don’t panic! That just means things need to be tweaked and tested in order to find what works best for your users.
Design It Please offers analytics consulting, so don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own. But you should know some basics about Google Analytics.
Yes, metrics like sessions and bounce rate matter, but not as much as some other metrics. Here are some key takeaways from each section:
Audience > Geo > Location
This shows you which countries are delivering traffic to your site. Click on the country to see the Region and City. If you’re seeing low numbers of users in your preferred geographical area, you should consider ads.
Acquisition > Overview
This shows you which channels are driving traffic to your site. This information will help you determine if you’re neglecting certain channels or really rockin’ it!
Behavior > Overview
This shows you your most popular pages/posts. Very crucial information for determining what is resonating with your audience.
Conversions > Goals > Overview
Any goals you’ve set up will be listed here. This is where the money is.
Go, Plant the Basil
As I’m writing this post, there’s a basil plant on the counter waiting to be planted in a planter on my balcony. All I need to do is get up, move some dirt, and add some water in order to make the basil plant happy. A happy basil plant will make a happy Sam because I’ll get to eat the basil. The same goes for your website. Starting with these five areas will bring improvements to your website’s functionality and conversion rate. All you have to do is get up and move some dirt around and add some water. Go forth, and plant the basil!