When it comes to improving your website's performance, user experience is everything.
How easy it is for someone to navigate your site, together with the relevancy of the information a visitor finds when they land there, all have a bearing on how well your website delivers against your business objectives, ranks in online searches, and performs in comparison to the competition in your industry sector.
That's why it's vital that a website's design isn't only aesthetically engaging, but also intelligent too.
After all, visuals alone can only keep an audience engaged for so long. If you want to sustain a time-strapped reader's attention for the duration it takes for Google to consider your website of importance (2-3 minutes) you need to introduce features that increase session times and encourage page interactions, and that's where introducing a personal experience through intuitive web design comes in.
Far from a marketing fad, intuitive design is now one of the biggest drivers of sustained audience engagement, which as any good digital marketing agency knows, is the key to converting customers and improving Google search position long-term. That's because it's not only the volume of traffic (ie the number of visitors) to a website that influences its importance but the quality of those visits. And what Google ultimately interprets as quality traffic is sessions that result in an average 2-3 minute dwell time, and at least two organic page impressions.
But the value in creating a personal experience on your website isn't only reflected in a superior Google ranking.
Intuitive web design can also positively boost sales performance, employee efficiency, and lead generation, when executed correctly in the right context.
That's why it's such a powerful approach for companies to leverage in their digital marketing strategy, and one that delivers on ROI time and time again, as we've discovered through the personal experiences we've created for our clients at Merchant.
What's more, intuitive web design isn't exclusively relevant for a B2C audience. As a full service marketing agency, working with a wealth of global B2B brands, we've been able to demonstrate the value of a personal experience through our work with clients in the oil & gas, property & construction, aviation and sports retail industries. As well as putting technology to good use in-house for a major worldwide leader in home improvement products.
Here's a look at just three of the ways we've integrated a personal experience, driven by intuitive design, into the websites we've designed, built and delivered for some of the world's most successful global brands.
A leading UK retailer of high performance bicycles and cycling products, i-ride sells to trade and consumers simultaneously, and the brand's client base even extends to professional athletes celebrated on the world stage.
When i-ride engaged us to build the business a brand new online retail platform, one of its key objectives was to boost the response time and accuracy of its online search, making products more discoverable, and helping customers complete online purchases faster. But the brief didn't just call for one combined product catalogue with a single pricing structure. i-ride wanted a single website that serviced both trade customers and consumers equally, and that called for unique, user-dependent price bands.
To create the intuitive design that would be capable of differentiating between unique users, our developers built i-ride's website using Episerver, an enterprise grade CMS (content management system) sophisticated enough to allow us to create custom price bands. We developed a personal members portal, where trade account holders could log in, and be recognised by the system. Not only did this affect the prices being displayed for each product, but the code we developed also allowed for the price bands to be further customised based on the identity of individual users.
We took the personal experience a step further still, integrating the technology for the website to custom-tailor its homepage to individual users.
We built in the intelligence for the site to remember which products a user had previously searched for, ordered, or shown interest in, and to display these prominently the next time the same user landed on, or logged into the site. The custom element also extended to i-ride's promotions and sales periods too, with the retailer now able to offer user-unique discounts, rather than a singular across-the-board promotional offer. Giving the prestigious cycling supplier the option to offer custom promotions to select users at its discretion.
Since launching the intuitive new i-ride website:
- The retailer has seen a notable decrease in user bounce rates, which has had a positive effect on user experience, user flow and organic placement in Google searches.
- Average dwell times have shot up from three to five minutes, with customers now spending an average two minutes longer online per session, again boosting search engine performance.
- Our reorganisation of i-ride's entire product catalogue (consisting of 13,000 SKUs) has resulted in search result times of 0.01 seconds, which has in turn lowered basket abandonment rates and improved online sales conversions.
Operational for more than 130 years, Gleeds is one of the world's longest-serving and most influential property and construction consultancies, today operating almost 80 offices in 20 unique locations globally. British retailer Marks & Spencer is among the many commercial and private clients Gleeds has orchestrated lucrative property acquisitions for, while the company's expertise has been central to the delivery of infrastructure projects such as the London 2012 Olympics and Crossrail.
As well as hosting through an outdated CMS, Gleeds was also operating 15 unique microsites when the company engaged our web design services at Merchant. Aware that this had become counter-productive to operations, and responsible for fuelling a diverse brand voice across the Gleeds portfolio, the company set us the task of consolidating its 15 separate sites into one unified website. But it wasn't as simple as shutting down 14 sites and making one fit for purpose. Gleeds needed a B2B website capable of conveying its 130-year lifespan in the property and construction sector, the magnitude of its operations and its full scope of services. Most importantly of all, the content needed to be relevant, and perform equally, to stakeholders based across six separate continents.
With our graphic designers taking ownership of the visual identity for the new Gleeds website, our development team set to work creating the backend design, taking into account insights we extracted from a UI and UX audit. Armed with this knowledge of the Gleeds customer and their online behaviour, we custom created Gleeds an entirely new site map that prioritised page importance and offered a simplified navigation that could translate across all territories.
The really clever aspect of our website design, however, involved the personal experience we built into the site to greet the Gleeds user.
Using intuitive web design we developed the functionality for the website to identify a user's unique geographical location based on the origin of their IP address.
Now when a user anywhere in the world lands on Gleeds' website, they'll be met with an intuitive homepage that tailors its content to the visitor's current country of residence. Ensuring that only market-relevant information is prioritised and presented in each unique visit. Giving Gleeds the ability to manage its global stakeholder presence through one centralised website controlled by its global communications team, which appears to users as though it's unique to their local catchment.
As one of Britain's busiest international airports (second only to Heathrow), Gatwick Airport, also known as London Gatwick, welcomes 45 million passengers through its terminal doors each year. Operating since 1958, today Gatwick services more than 230 different destinations in 70 countries, with 63 long haul routes among those offered annually via the airport's flight operators and international travel partners.
With such a large volume of travellers utilising its airport each year, Gatwick wanted to find a way to connect on a more personal level with those navigating its terminals.
We were set the goal of redesigning the Gatwick Airport website, to make airline passengers feel more welcome during their time in the terminal, and less like strangers passing through en route to their destination. Introducing a personal experience into our web design for Gatwick was the obvious way to achieve the interaction and human connection the airport strived to achieve in this case.
We began the brief by analysing the behaviour, thought process and expectation of those using such a large airport for onward air travel, creating individual passenger personas, to represent the quintessential Gatwick Airport customer. Once we were confident of who we were talking to and their needs, we set about creating a site map that was perfectly geared towards the main priorities of passengers, road testing our design with genuine London Gatwick users to ensure the navigation and information hierarchy delivered.
But it was the intuitive element we introduced into the web design that really elevated the Gatwick Airport website and achieved the personal experience that made the website feel truly user-unique.
Realising that every passenger passing through Gatwick would be in possession of a flight number, we built in the capability for the website to custom-tailor its content when a passenger enters theirs in.
In doing so, the website then intuitively presents information relevant to the user’s onward destination, such as local weather conditions, native news, currency conversion offers, and general travel advice, hints, and tips. In addition, we created a "pin my flight" button, which counts down the time remaining until your flight's departure.
These unique personal elements succeeded in giving London Gatwick a way to forge a stronger connection with its customers through its website, while also serving to make passengers feel more valued, in exactly the way the airport aspired to.
How intuitive website design can help your business
The three examples we've highlighted in this blog are just a small representation of the personal experiences we've produced for clients at Merchant. Alongside those listed above we've also succeeded in improving quality assurance practices at Kingfisher plc, through an online portal that centralises compliance literature and allows managers to assign recommended reading to team members.
Plus we've equipped Oil Spill Response Limited with an integrated members training portal as part of our new intuitive website design for the global cooperative. Demonstrating the many ways that a personal experience built into an intuitive website design can make a difference to day-to-day operations and customer relations.