If your looking to improve your website traffic and sales work on improving your user's experience. A happy user makes for a happy website. The question is what makes users happy today? The first Item is page speed. How fast does your website load? If it isn't on the fastest server on the planet does it at least load the text quickly so your users can start reading while the photos slowly get added to the page? In the spring of 2010 Google announced that they were using page speed in their ranking factor. If customer happiness isn't going to get you to speed up your site maybe page ranking will. It's important to Google and it's important to your visitors. A wise webmaster will make it a priority. A few great sources for checking your website's page speed as noted in the video below are:
I was really impressed with pagetest.org. This site really gives you a detailed reading on website statistics that can help you improve page speed. As a matter of fact as soon as I'm finished writing this article I am getting some of my developers to start working on improving our own site, from some of the data I've gleaned from the pagespeed.org website.
Another way to make customers happy is to Make your forms easy to navigate with tabs in the right order. Don't let your programmers decide what's easy for the end user. Look at your website from a new user's perspective. I like to give it the 6th Grader's test. Don't assume your visitors are tech savvy and mouse proficient. Dumb down the user experience in most cases. Using standardized keyboard shortcuts couldn't hurt. Make sure they're easy to find and remember. shift alt ctrl _ might night be a great choice for a keyboard shortcut.
There is a whole lot of information on "Be Yourself" in this video, which is something you need to go over at a company meeting. Most Companies aren't sure who they are to begin with but maybe the term be yourself will help you to reinvent your company philosophy.
When it comes to website technical issues, many users get frustrated with the standard error codes with no explanations. Google I/O comes up with a few light hearted ways to explain your mistakes. I like the idea of using a customized 404 error page that lightens the impact of an error page with humor and branding. If your website isn't a mission critical company this can work well. If it is a serious site humor may not be the best communication vehicle.
Of course today's visitor wants to be heard, and needs the instant gratification of a toddler. Therefore blogs, groups and social networking are important tools to improve the consumer experience. instant interaction on the website is always preferable.
As your mother always told you "Be Polite". your users expect it. Make sure your gracious in every aspect from the home page to your error pages. When they're cancelling an account politeness is even more important. See ya, I wouldn't want to be ya isn't going to get you customer recommendations. There are a few more topics covered in this video on things you can do to create a great user experience. Being prepared and being a reliable are also important. I will leave that for the video.
Wrapping it up, what I got out of this video is common sense in website architecture and interaction that always needs reinforcement. sometimes we forget the primal needs of our users. Creating a pleasant experience by taking advantage of the newest technology and passing it down to the end user in speed and convenience. Creating pages that are easy to navigate and use shouldn't always be reserved for the normal every day pages but the error pages too. Remembering the customer is always right even when they are severing a relationship is important. In the end creating a reliable interface of technology, communication and interaction completes the user experience package. Here is the video that shows what Google feels is paramount in the website user's experience. Your comments are welcome.