User Engagement. What is it, and how does it differ from SEO?
User Engagement, often called user experience or UX, is basically how a customer (or user) interacts with your website. Wikipedia defines it this way: “User Experience refers to a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service.”
When you translate this to your website, you’re checking to see if it’s easy to use, it’s clear what you are selling or offering if the pages are easy to navigate, and if the information you want to give easy to find.
User Experience is not a new concept. Designers (of all products) have been using these principles for years. When a product is developed, it is tested for the user experience. How this is done comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a focus group, sometimes it’s an internal testing group. However it’s done, it’s an integral part of designing and offering your product to the public.
But What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Simply put, this is a fancy way of defining the actions taken to get your website to the top of the search engine results. This involves “organic” rankings, or search engine results not included in the paid ads section.
There are many different ways of accomplishing this feat, including:
- Identifying and tracking keywords,
- Building links between websites
- Tracking algorithms
While some of the steps taken to increase SEO may overlap some elements of UX, they are inherently different.
7 Steps of UX
Let’s examine the main parts of user experience. There are multiple examples of key UX principles out there, but I think Peter Morville from Semantics Studios breaks it down the best. According to him, there are 7 parts of UX:
- Make your product (website) usable, by meeting the exact needs of your customer.
Ask yourself, what problem are you trying to solve? Think of this answer in every aspect of your design. Lose sight of this, and your website will not fulfill its purpose, and your customers will look elsewhere for the information they need.
- Make your website usable.
You need to encourage me to interact with you. Make your website easy to navigate, with clear direction about what you want me to do. So you’re a roofing contractor. Do you offer emergency services? What kind of roofs do you work on? What is your service area?
If you’re a tourism center- what is the area you’re promoting? How do I get there? What do I do after I get there? If you’re a small business- what kind of service do you offer? What makes your services or products unique? Can I buy these from your website? If not, how do I contact you to tell you I want your services?
If I am a potential customer, these are the main things you need to tell me to get me to land on your website, and then stay on it long enough to take action.
- Make your website desirable
Employ the principles of Emotional Design. Recognize that humans are emotional beings. We make decisions based on emotions. Case in point. You all know those commercials. The ones with the “sad puppies” as we call them in our house. They’re awful! Why are they awful? Because they evoke such emotions from us. Who are these horrible people that abuse animals like that? The people who make these commercials are playing to your emotions, hoping you will be motivated to give them money.
Now, I’m not saying put pictures of abused dogs on your website, but be aware that we are emotional beings. What emotions are your customers having when they come to your website? Are you making your products or services desirable?
- Make your products and website easy to find
This goes along with making your website usable. Is the information your customers want easy to find? This is also where your SEO tactics come in, which make your website easy to find in the search engine results.
- Make your website accessible
This goes without saying, but your website needs to be accessible for people with disabilities. Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, will soon be mandatory. Section 508 involves making your website easily readable to people who are visually impaired. This encompasses many things, including color blindness and traditional sight impairment. Knowing what colors to stay away from and how your website performs when it’s read to someone is the meat of this law.
- Make your Website Credible
Letting your customers know you’re legit is a big deal. Have you won any awards, or gotten any certifications? Gotten some good feedback from your customers? Putting them on your website in a sense is bragging, but not in a bad way. You want your potential customers to know you are going to do what you say you’re going to do. Having those reputable sources listed on your website is a good thing. You worked hard to earn those, so don’t be afraid to share them with the world!
- Make your website valuable
Is your website bringing you any leads? Is it giving your clients the information they want to know? If you answer “No” to either of these questions, you probably need to re-evaluate your strategy. Sometimes this may involve having someone from outside your organization critiquing your website for you. As business owners, sometimes we get too attached to our designs and need an unbiased viewpoint.
User Experience and SEO are both essential players in a good marketing strategy and share a few similarities, but more differences. And now you know what those are! Want to know more about user experience and SEO? Feel free to reach out to our experts here at Art Unlimited.