Your chamber website user experience (“UX” is short for “User eXperience”) is a big thing these days. Experts will tell you that the easier your website is to navigate, the easier it is for visitors to find what they’re looking for and the longer people will remain on it. This will improve your bounce score and time on page ratings with Google.
But user experience might be something you know very little about and if you don’t have it in your chamber website budget to hire a professional designer or UX expert, you may wonder just how user-friendly your chamber site is. And how to improve it if it’s not.
Here are some easy ways to make your website as user-friendly as possible without investing a lot of money on revamping it or hiring a UX expert.
What Does User Experience Mean for Chamber Website Design?
User experience is exactly as it sounds. It’s the experience the visitor has when on your website. There are lots of factors in user experience including:
- website load time. If it takes a long time for your site to come up, it will turn people off and Google will penalize you for it in search results.
- visual design. If someone can’t stand looking at your site because of loud, mismatched colors, small font, or crowded areas of text, they’ll leave and likely not return.
- broken links. If visitors click on desired information only to see a bunch of 404s/bro
ken links, it can be very frustrating.
- unresponsive mobile design. A good mobile design isn’t just shrinking the dimensions of your website to fit a smaller screen. There are a lot of design components that factor into a good mobile experience.
- non-intuitive navigation. Looking for specific information on a chamber site and not being able to find it is frustrating. This can happen from a convoluted menu structure or the fact that the site is missing a simple “join now” button.
Now that you know some of the most common problems on websites (not just chamber sites), what can you do to ensure a great visitor experience, even if you’re not a techie and you know little about design? You might be surprised that there are several things that can be done quickly and easily in a drag-and-drop website builder like WordPress.
15 UX Tweaks for Better Chamber Website Design
While the specifics of these suggestions may depend on your individual audience, the basics are generally the same. Do a little testing to see if you get more conversions if you do simple things like changing the color of “join now” buttons or using a different font. These small details can make a big difference. But in general, these are the things you need to implement for
- Add in more whitespace. You’re not getting new members by the word. Make your design airy and light with evocative images and punchy text.
- Improve your page speed. If you’ve ever been on a webpage that takes forever to load, you know the frustration. Many people won’t even wait. They’ll leave the page, never to return. If you don’t want that to happen to the chamber page, check out these page speed tips.
- Add a “Join Now” button. You likely have one, but if not, do it now. And don’t just add one. Yes, you want a “join now” button taking up prime real estate on the homepage of your chamber website but you also need it mid-way down the page, at the end of an article, in the sidebar of your blog or any other spot where someone could experience one of those magic moments on your site that would make them want to join. When your visitor has that “wow” moment in relating to you, you want a button there to help solidify the budding relationship.
- Use real language. This is generally not a chamber problem but it happens often enough that it should be mentioned.
Youknow those annoying MBA-in-a-box words that are overused in business situations? Take them off of your website now. Words like synergy and bandwidth and all of these business buzzwords meant something at one time. They no longer do anything but turn people off. Instead, use language people identify with. Make it conversational. You want people to relate to you not shut down.
- Use calls to action. A call to action invites your visitors to do something. You should have these peppered throughout your chamber website. Your call to action needn’t be the same thing for every page. It should make sense for what you’re talking about in that section. For instance, a “Join now” call to action on a welcome page may not fit as well as a “learn more” because the visitor is just getting to know you. Make sure your call to action fits the stage of the visitor lifecycle.
- Vary the call to action design. Some people respond to inline text URLs as calls to action while others prefer a button. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to place these items throughout your website and in different forms. Analyze who clicks on which links or buttons so you know what’s working.
- Use clear headers. While it’s fun to use clever headers, they won’t do anything for your SEO and they won’t help your audience find what they need on your site. Instead, imagine your headers as giant neon signs that read “Look here for <this subject>.”
- Update information all the time. Have you ever visited a social media profile or website and everything is out of date by six months or so? The first thing you wonder is whether they are still in business. Someone may feel the same way if they come to your chamber site and see pictures from an event from several months ago with no context. It’s easy to refresh content these days so do it often. If you want to leave old event pictures up, that’s fine. But freshen the language around it. For instance, “Check out some of our pics from our last networking event and please join us for the next one” then insert an RSVP link.
- Rotate images. Just like you refresh content periodically, you should do so with your images as well. Keep them fresh and in season.
- Link to (only) the social media profiles where you’re active. You absolutely should link to social media profiles from your website. Chances are, if people want to stay in contact with you, they’ll follow you on social media, not keep popping back to your website. I often see chambers list several of the most popular social media platforms on their website. However, when I click on them and it takes me to their profile, they haven’t posted in six months. Again, I’m left wondering if they’re still in business. If you are only active on LinkedIn and Facebook, that’s all you should list on your website. Yes, you may have secured the chamber’s name on other platforms but if you’re not on there on a regular basis, leave them off your website until you are active on those platforms.
- Use consistent branding. As your visitors navigate through your site, they should see consistent branding. If one of your pages looks significantly different with different fonts and colors, the visitor may wonder if they’ve somehow left your site.
- Practice easy navigation. Make the navigation on your website very intuitive. Limit your menu options and use sub-menu categories to help people find exactly what they need.
- Add your state. There are 22 cities in the U.S. named Columbus. That can be a problem with identification. If a potential member doesn’t know your URL and Googles you, they could find a chamber with the same name as yours. They may be deep into learning about that chamber when they realize it’s not the one they wanted. Make sure you have references to your state and
areaprominently displayed on your site. Not only is this helpful to a potential member but also to rankingin local search.
- Think of the next steps and light the path to them. At any given moment you should understand what someone viewing your page will do next. What’s the next logical step? We talked earlier about how calls to action should reflect the next logical thing to do. The same should be true of all parts of the website. On your blog are you suggesting similar posts at the end? With event tickets are you also suggesting upgrades they may enjoy? Think about the user experience at every turn and what would naturally enhance it.
- Know the value of your “real estate.” Someone who works in physical real estate will tell you location is incredibly important in home sales and business ones. The same is true of the real estate on your web pages. Make sure you place the most important stuff near the top of the page. That’s what people will pay the most attention to.
If it’s time to adjust your chamber website or even massively update the site, or if you don’t think you’re getting the online conversions you’d hoped, it might be time to reexamine the user experience on your chamber website. If you make sure the visitor’s experience is good, they’ll be more likely to stay longer and get what they need from your site, which benefits both of you.