How Your Website’s User Interface Impacts User Experience

Drawing more visitors to your website means having more chances for conversions — if these users stick around long enough to explore.

According to recent data, however, users spend an average of 54 seconds looking at the first page they land on. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, 88% don’t come back.

For businesses looking to grow their digital brand, having a website isn’t enough. Even a site with solid content and great products won’t get the job done if users never make it past the first page. To capture customer attention and keep them coming back, companies need to prioritize user interface (UI) design, which contributes to an improved user experience (UX) and enhanced SEO. Here’s how.

UI and UX Basics

Although UI and UX are similar, they’re not identical.

UX is all about the user experience: How do they interact with websites, and what effect do these interactions have on user perception? As a result, UX often focuses on pain points: Functions or features of a website that could cause confusion or frustration.

UI speaks to the look of each element on a website. This includes text, videos and images, along with interactive elements such as buttons and widgets. 

UI and UX go hand-in-hand to capture user interest. For example, a website with great experience but terrible interfaces will see customers quickly come, go and never return. Sites with fantastic UI elements that lead to low-value content, meanwhile, may see initial success but won’t drive long-term interest.  

In combination, UI and UX deliver a unified user experience that combines interaction and information to deliver a compelling user experience.

The Impact of Interface on Experience

Put simply, the better the interface the better the experience.

Consider a retail brand making the move into e-commerce. The goal of its website is twofold: Get users talking about the brand and convert visitors into customers.

User experience design prioritizes critical components that can make or break the customer experience, such as page loading times, ease of navigation, content relevance and well-designed product detail pages (PDPs).

User interface efforts, meanwhile, make it easier for customers to access this experience. By ensuring that text is easy to read, navigation menus are logically laid out and links lead where they should, UI facilitates an improved user experience. In practice, this could be as simple as a drop-down menu that requires users to constantly hover their cursor on or near the menu title. If even small movements cause the menu to suddenly close, frustration quickly sets in. After a few unsuccessful attempts to access the content they want, users will simply leave.

Streamlined, simple and speedy UI elements, however, let prospective customers find what they want when they want it.

UI: The New (Inter) Face of SEO 

Effective UI also plays a role in SEO. 

This is because search engines such as Google use a combination of UI and UX factors to determine the overall “page experience” of a website. The better the page experience, the better your site’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Some page experience factors, such as time until largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID) and cumulative layout shift (CLS) are foundational components of UX. Others, however, are tied to UI. They include the automatic adjustment of content to fit mobile devices, the design of navigation elements to facilitate user interaction and the layout of pages such that users can easily find key content. 

In practice, this means that while great UX can help improve the page experience, getting ahead of the competition requires a combination of UX and UI.

From Page to Purchase

Web pages are your chance to make a great first impression. With great UX backed by solid UI, they help guide users from landing to product to purchase pages and help keep customers coming back.

UI doesn’t just facilitate better user interactions; it can also contribute to improved SEO by enhancing the overall page experience and increasing the search ranking of your website. 

Put simply? It’s a reciprocal relationship. Good UI drives better UX, which informs ongoing interface improvements, increasing both the number of users that visit your site and the number of customers who stay.

Author bio: Author Bio: Aaron Wittersheim is Chief Operating Officer at Straight North, a digital marketing company. He helped startups, middle-market, and Fortune 500 companies improve organizational structure and grow through his expertise in process conception, task automation, technology, and internal project management.

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