Every time someone visits your website, they have a user experience – or UX. A UX is a user’s general attitudes and emotions about a website. Elements of a good UX include how well a website functions across all devices, the value of a website’s content, overall aesthetics, and many other components.
Are people excited to get valuable information when they visit your site? Or maybe they are wowed, impressed or entertained? Or, on the other hand, are they frustrated with your site, only to quickly leave and go to a competitor instead? The difference between happy visitors and frustrated ones boils down to user experience.
When a large percentage of visitors are quickly leaving your website, it’s bad for business and your SEO. Don’t think Google isn’t tracking your bounce rate, because they are!
No, you cannot always control how people feel when they visit your site. (Obviously, you can’t please everyone.) But you can certainly take measures to ensure that, in general, your site is giving your visitors an excellent experience.
Website User Experience Checklist
If you’d like to make sure your website is providing the best UX possible, use this 8-question website user experience checklist as a good start.
1. Is My Website Frustrating Mobile Users?
Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile will frustrate your visitors. Almost everyone accesses the web on tablets and phones today , and users don’t want to spend time resizing and scrolling up, down, and side to side just to view your content.
Not only do non-mobile optimized sites annoy web users, but they also receive SEO penalties from Google. So don’t merely build a website and then make it mobile friendly. Keep mobile in mind right from the start.
2. Is My Site Too Crammed and Cluttered?
When your business depends on product sales, it’s tempting to cover every square inch with as much advertising and promotional information as possible. But for an attractive, comfortable website, you’ll need to prioritize which content stays and what needs to go. As the old cliché says, less is more.
Research has shown that we humans have a short attention span of just eight seconds.  It has also been demonstrated that white space  can boost attention by 20 percent. To grab a reader’s interest, your homepage should only include the most important information.
Websites with too much copy and visual clutter – like icons, buttons and pictures – tend to make visitors feel suffocated. When a customer isn’t sure what to focus on, or there’s too much on a page for someone to quickly scan, you can expect high bounce rates. So leave out nonessential distractions, and instead create blog content for readers to get detailed information if they want it.
3. Is My Website Full of Bothersome 404 Errors?
There’s nothing quite as disappointing as clicking a link to get valuable information, only to discover that the page is “not found.” This is another one of those things that makes your visitors abandon your site and go to a competitor’s. So it’s important to look for bad links and fix them as soon as possible. A great tool you can use to check for 404 pages  is ScreamingFrog’s SEO Spider .
4. Does My Website Take Too Long to Load?
Websites shouldn’t take more than two seconds to load. Are you using the more-secure HTTPS website format? If so, you’re doing the right thing by making your website safer for your visitors. Unfortunately, HTTPS slows loading speed.
With HTTPS, more communication (data-encryption) takes place between the web browser and the server, (also called SSL or TSL Handshake ) which could be oceans apart from each other.
Data encryption + long distances = slower connections.
Slower websites annoy visitors, so don’t ignore this issue. There are several ways to improve loading time . But one especially smart way is by using a content delivery network (CDN)
A CDN is  a network of local servers that have open connections to distant servers. With a CDN, a web browser can communicate with a nearby server instead of one that’s half a world away. By shortening the distance between browsers and servers, loading times improve.
5. Are My Images Stale and Generic?
Whether on your blog posts, social media or your website, images are an important component of your online presence. They can grab attention, boost your page views and convey emotions that text alone can’t do. They also give your visitors a refreshing visual “break” from your written text.
However, images need to be authentic or your visitors will have an unfavorable experience. Users are smart enough to spot generic photos that were purchased from a stock-photography company. While some webmasters think an attractive stock photo or two will benefit their site, such pictures are often viewed as impersonal and disingenuous.
Your business has a unique team of people that no stock photo can reflect. Show your team’s authentic smiling faces on your site! And display unique images of your own products, equipment and services (provided that you’re not giving away any trade secrets, of course.)
6. Are My Blog Headlines Deceiving my Visitors?
If your website has a blog, you’re probably delivering a great deal of value to your visitors. But not if your titles are making bold promises that can’t be fulfilled within the post.
Don’t make the mistake of generating traffic with flashy, false titles like “This One Crazy Trick Will Double Your Business’ Sales Overnight.” In reality, this will only give your visitors a terrible user experience and increase your bounce rate – both of which will make your SEO take a nosedive.
7. Are My Website’s Forms Intimidating?
Forms are a necessary component to any blog or website. If you expect to gain qualified leads or sell products and services, you simply have to incorporate online forms. Creating forms  is easy, and there are tools available to help you do it. What isn’t always easy is making your forms user-friendly so your visitors don’t exit your site in frustration.
One of the best ways to improve your web forms is to cut down on the number of fields within your forms. Many website visitors jump ship when they see lengthy forms, only to head over to – you guessed it – a competitor’s site instead.
Ask yourself: “What is the bare minimum amount of information I need for this form to be useful?” It’s better to sacrifice non-essential information than to lose a customer.
8. Have I Tested My Website’s UX Lately?
Don’t guess when it comes to your UX! There are tools available to help you gauge how long your visitors are spending on each page of your website. Google Analytics  is, of course, one of them. There’s a premium offering, but many people find enough value in the free version. If your website is hosted on WordPress, start this Google Analytics guide will help you get started .
Crazy Egg  is another valuable resource to help you examine your visitors’ activity. It charges a reasonable monthly fee, but its tools are worth it.
Leave Bad UX For Your Competitors
Clearly, there are many components to a good user experience. It takes elements of common sense along with some technical prowess, too.
The bottom line is your visitors have many other choices besides your website. (I.e., your competitors’ websites.) And if visitors leave your website once, chances are pretty high that they won’t be coming back.
If you value high web traffic and low bounce rates, you can let your visitors know by giving them an excellent user experience every time. Let your competitors have frustrating website design, slow speeds and 404 errors. Your website, and your visitors, deserve better. So start optimizing for UX today!
Thinking Man  Photo via Shutterstock