There has quietly been an explosion of interest about UX in web design. UX means “user experience” and signifies a shift in how we measure the ability of a website. It is becoming very obvious that your website’s UX has a direct and considerable impact on your hospital’s bottom line. In this article, you will learn about the basic ideas behind UX along with a detailed understanding of how it affects your business right now. Most importantly, you will learn actionable tips on effective UX design that you can implement right now to benefit your veterinary practice!
UX design is closer to psychology than it is to computer science – it prioritizes the experience that a user has on your website, instead of the design elements themselves. The design elements become a means to an end instead of the actual goal. The motivating hypothesis behind UX is that the more positive the experience that someone has on your website, the higher likelihood that you will receive a successful action from that person. That action could be a phone call, appointment request, and a more positive association with your brand.
A stellar website UX is probably the most valuable digital tool that your animal hospital can have. Because there are so many points of interaction between a user and your website, we are going to focus on 3 key ones that might be causing you to lose business every day.
We usually have a pretty good idea of what we want, and we rarely are willing to wait for it. One of the highest causes of bounces (when a user leaves your page) is poor loading time. You’ve probably been there yourself. You try to get to a website, and it seems like it just takes forever to load. If you do decide to soldier on, there is probably a little bit of residual resentment and frustration that the website will need to reverse. But often times, if the website takes even 3 or more seconds to load, users won’t even give it the chance and they’ll leave the website. It’s this experience that is driving our behavior and dictating possible buying decisions.
Ease of Use
Much of UX is about providing an intuitive and enjoyable experience on the website. When things don’t work the way we expect them to, we begin to feel frustrated. And the quickest way to tempt a user to leave your website is to make them feel frustrated or annoyed. The most common sources of frustration from “usability” are poorly displayed navigation menus and a confusing layout to the website. For example, if it isn’t immediately clear (from any point on your website) how to get to your staff or services page, we’re likely to feel frustrated, which significantly reduces the probability that we do business with you.
One of the most common UX blunders is that the website is just plain boring. Honestly, most websites are still just as dull as dishwater. Usually this is caused by a very poor understanding of how we engage with websites. We scan them (as we typically do magazines), we don’t settle in like we do a book we’ve decided to read. So when the first thing we see is a giant wall of text, usually our first thought is “gee, that really looks like a lot of work to read, and I’m not even sure I want to.” This usually means an un-engaged user, and a very short stay time on your website.
Now’s the fun part – if you suspect your website suffers from any of the above problems (most websites do to some degree), we’re going to give you actionable tips that will help improve UX and turn more website visitors into hospital patients.
Fast Loading – There are two typical causes for slow loading sites. First, sometimes a website has outdated engineering that is inefficient and low quality, or it may even be using outdated plugins like flash. This will typically make a website slow to load, and may even cause crashes for the user. Make sure your website’s engineering is modern and lean, and that you don’t use outdated plugins like flash.
The second reason is a bad server. Often times, people just pick the cheapest hosting option they can find. But when you pick the cheapest option, you’re usually sharing an outdated system with a lot of other people, meaning the quality of hosting will be low. This also causes slow loading times. Make sure you have a reliable host, preferably a company that has their own modern dedicated server for their clients.
Usability – Most usability issues are related to navigation options. Your website’s main navigation options should be abundantly clear upon entry to the website. If your website has so many pages that you use sub-menus (such as “team” under the “about us” heading), you should make sure the location of each sub-menu item is logically placed to be where your users would generally expect it to be. A good rule of thumb is that an average user should be able to get to any page on your website within 10 seconds of searching.
Don’t be boring! – Great UX means delighting your users – not putting them to sleep. The experience they have on your website should be valuable in and of itself. Use rich media like high quality photos or videos in order to capture your attention, and tell your story in a genuine and emotional way through these tools. We typically engineer video backgrounds for our clients because when a user sees it, it is totally unexpected and absolutely captivating! Remember, visual aids work best when they closely align with the way people naturally perceive the world – amazing and relevant pictures and videos are absolutely essential for your success!