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8 Essential Strategies for Improving Your WordPress UX Design

by Gregor Schmidt, July 22, 2019

ESPRESSO.digital - 8 Essential Strategies for Improving Your WordPress UX Design

8 Essential Strategies for Improving Your WordPress UX Design

Using WordPress to Provide a Better User Experience

WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS, and there are many reasons why you should be using WordPress to build your online presence. And right out of the box the WordPress user experience is perfectly acceptable. It provides an overall good experience for site visitors. But I want to share a few WordPress UX design tips with you to help you do even better.

In 2019 simply having a website is no longer good enough. Instead you must meet the user expectations of your target audience, or they will simply look elsewhere. If your website usability is not aligned with your target audience it does not really matter what else your online presence has to offer.

ESPRESSO.digital - Why WordPress User Experience Design

Why WordPress User Experience Design

The success of any website is related to the user experience it provides, and how it is perceived by website visitors. I always tell our clients that they are not designing a website for themselves, but for their intended end user. You know, the person who can and will spend money on your products or services if you present them the right way. In the ever more competitive online world, the user experience you provide is of critical importance.

If your website is to meet your short and long-term business objectives you must focus on providing the best possible user experience. take that If the site must meet its mark and establish a robust online foothold, several key elements must be taken into consideration. Which is where WordPress UX design comes in.

ESPRESSO.digital - The Importance of UX Design

The Importance of WordPress UX Design

When a visitor first arrives on your website, they want to quickly orient themselves to find the info, product or service they are looking for. And since mobile consumers are becoming ever more demanding and sophisticated, they are not going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out your site. Usually, visitors decide in a few seconds whether to stay on the page or abandon the site.

However, if your site is designed to provide an optimized user experience, it encourages visitors to continue consuming your content and visit additional pages. Mobile users are naturally attracted towards sites which cater to their expectations on a personalized level and focus on their interests. While spending additional time and resources on WordPress UX design may seem excessive for many website owners it is exactly this extra effort that will provide lasting benefits.

Failure to deliver according to your target user expectations results in the visitor being unable to navigate the site effectively, ultimately leading to site or cart abandonment. WordPress provides a pretty fair user experience right out of the box. But by simply adding a few basic WordPress user experience design elements you can motivate your site visitors to spend more time exploring your site or online store.

ESPRESSO.digital - Fail-Proof User Interface

What is a Fail-Proof User Interface?

Before you can actually improve your WordPress user experience design you must first understand what actually creates a fail-proof user interface. Keep in mind that the following are only a broad outline. Your audience may have other user expectations that you need to keep in mind.

The first and most visible element that corresponds to WordPress UX design is the actual interface itself. Your site visitors will form an initial impression of your website from your user interface (UI) in less than 3 seconds. This crucial first impression will either convince them to stay on your site or continue searching for another website.

Here are the most basic characteristics of a reliable WordPress UI designed to maximize the WordPress user experience:

  •    Self-Explanatory: The UI should not require a learning curve.
  •    Responsiveness: It should be designed keeping different devices under consideration.
  •    Efficient: Does not require extensive resources on the device.
  •    Uniform: Design should not vary extensively across the site.
  •    Attractive: The UI should be balanced between functionality and being attractive.

8 Simple Steps to Improving WordPress UX Design

I cannot stress the importance of providing the best mobile-first user experience enough. It is the most critical factor in your initial and continuing online success. Prioritizing the following WordPress UX design elements will ensure your site will meet your actual user expectations:

ESPRESSO.digital - Keep It Simple

1. Keep it Simple

Your website or online store has one, and only one, primary purpose. And that is to attract, engage, and convert your site visitors. What exactly that conversion should be varies from site to site. Maybe you want visitors to sign up for your email, request an estimate, buy a product, or reserve a table. Make that as easy as possible for them!

One of the most common WordPress UX design mistakes is to overload your home page and other critical pages with content and information. This will only confuse and frustrate site visitors, and you know what that leads to. (If you forgot already go back and start reading again.)

Therefore, you must prioritize your WordPress user experience over everything else. A simple, uniform design that is both functional and easy to understand for visitors is so much more effective than a flashy design and bloated functionality.

Focus on simple formatting, a uniform layout, and relevant content. Present your content in a concise manner using bullet points and short paragraphs. Don’t overload your pages or site with content that is not required to meet your primary objective.

ESPRESSO.digital - Select Your Navigation

2. Select Your Navigation Menu

The next step in improving your WordPress user experience is to select an appropriate navigation menu. The standard WordPress menu is not bad. But it does have certain limitations. If you want your website to stand out and get noticed, you may want to consider a different type of menu altogether. Here are some of the most common types of WordPress menus:

Fixed Position Menu

This is also called a sticky menu since it sticks to the top of a page when a user scrolls down. Unlike conventional menus, which remain in the header and move out of view, a sticky menu does not disappear from view when visitors scroll down the page. An additional benefit especially for e-commerce sites is that important links and CTAs are always in view.

Sliding Hamburger Menu

I am sure you are familiar with the three horizontal lines of the hamburger menu by now. This hidden navigation menu only appears when a visitor hits the hamburger icon to find links to other content and pages. The sliding hamburger is one of the commonly used menus for mobile apps as well. It is a little less common on e-commerce sites where prominent links to your shop and checkout pages are essential.

Card or Grid Menu

This type of menu is a more recent addition to WordPress UX design. A card or grid menu works equally well on websites and mobile apps. Relevant items are displayed in visually appealing grids. This greatly enhances the mobile user experience. For e-commerce stores the best use of a card or grid menu is for featuring product images instead of text links.

If you do have a lot of information and pages you should consider secondary menu options instead of trying to cram everything into your main menu. Sidebar or drop-down menus are widely accepted by users since they can easily link to more content and provide intuitive interaction. This also permits compression of on-site features into a smaller area, which can be easily accessed by visitors.

Always keep in mind that with the ever-increasing number of mobile consumers mobile-first web design must be your primary focus. And that definitely includes your website navigation menu.

ESPRESSO.digital - Streamline Your Navigation

3.  Streamline Your Navigation Menu

The next step in improving your WordPress UX design is to streamline your navigation menu. The navigation menu of any website is essential for directing visitors to the content they are looking for. But this only works if your menus are simple, logical, and well-organized.

Vertical dropdowns work better than strictly horizontal menus, which can quickly become much too cluttered. Dropdown menus compress the links together and reduce the overall space required. Best WordPress UX design practices include keeping your menus as simple as possible. I highly recommend that you limit yourself to no more than two sub-levels, and that you keep your menus focused on objects rather than tasks.

ESPRESSO.digital - Simplify Your Sidebar

4. Simplify Your Sidebar

Next on my list of things you can do to improve your WordPress user experience design is your sidebar. Sidebars can be useful for directing viewers to other important information and resources by featuring your products, services, blogs, or promotional offers. But many site owners keep adding widgets, tools, and sliders. This means sidebars quickly become cluttered with needless information.

To avoid this, include only the most necessary and relevant information to keep visitors interested and facilitate their browsing. Make sure each bit of sidebar content is beneficial to your business or your end users. Based on that you can decide if it can stay or needs to be removed from the sidebar. Always keep your sidebar as simple and minimal as possible.

ESPRESSO.digital - Use Negative Space

5. Use Negative Space

Another relatively simply way for improving your WordPress UX design is to add some negative space to your pages. Negative space, also referred to as white space, is simple space on your page without any content. If your page is filled with visuals, sliders, and content users quickly get overwhelmed. And that provides a really bad user experience.

If you want to improve your WordPress user experience managing negative or white spacing is critical. Negative space is the distance that separates elements from each other. This space helps users focus on important in content without getting disoriented when reading or interacting with elements. It also improves the visual structure of your website and enhances readability.

Negative or white space is also a strategy for making web pages more readable. Online consumers have the tendency to scan web content in an F shaped motion: from left to right, down a bit, and from left to right again. Negative space will help copywriters and marketers a more appealing message to ensure conversions.

ESPRESSO.digital - Focus on Page Speed

6. Focus on Page Speed

Another key element of better WordPress user experience design is to ensure that your page loads fast. Studies have shown that site abandonment spikes exponentially if loading time exceeds 3 seconds. This makes page load speed an important factor in your overall user experience.

There are many ways to improve your WordPress page load speed. Here are a few ways to reduce page load speed and ensure visitors do not abandon your site in favor of one of your competitors:

  • Include only necessary plugins: While plugins can improve website functionality and usability, having too many plugins contributes towards increased page load time. Enable only plugins and extensions that are relevant to site features.
  • Image size matters: Choose image size and format carefully to ensure the quality is presentable and allocated size is optimized for loading. Be sure to use an image compression plugin such as SmushIt or ShortPixel.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) Services: Your page speed can be significantly improved by using a Content Delivery network (CDN) such as Cloudflare. This will expand site accessibility and reduce loading time. It even provides an additional safeguard against malicious attacks.
  • Enable Caching: Caching enables saving certain website data which can later be accessed directly instead of being loaded again. I highly recommend using a caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and WP Rocket. Or you can use a WordPress hosting platform that does that for you, such as WPEngine.

ESPRESSO.digital - Create Effective CTAs

7. Create Effective Calls-To-Action (CTAs)

Next on my list of WordPress user experience design strategies is creating effective Calls-to-Action (CTAs). When website visitors arrive on your site, they most often are unsure of what to do next. Therefore, you need to tell them, in a nice way, of course. And motivating users to perform a certain action is challenging if your CTA is not properly placed.

Since CTAs contribute towards both design and functionality, their placement is critical. Site visitors are more likely to take action if little effort is required of them Positioning CTAs near relevant content (but not overlapping) allows them to take action quickly. Plugins such as Monarch and OptinMonster provide you with even more options for managing your CTAs.

ESPRESSO.digital - Allow Social Sharing

8. Allow Social Sharing

Website users expect to be able to share your website content on their social platforms and networks. This also helps improve your site visibility. Therefore, your WordPress UX design focus has to include at least some form of social sharing capabilities. I personally recommend plugins such as AddThis or Monarch.

Placing social sharing buttons in visible locations such as the page header or integrating them in your sidebar encourages user interaction. I don’t necessarily recommend using hovering sharing icons as they can sometimes block other content or get clicked by accident. Either one of those will negatively affect the overall user experience.

ESPRESSO.digital - Improving WordPress UX Design

Improving Your WordPress UX Design

By integrating these 8 essential WordPress UX design elements on your WordPress website you will greatly improve the overall user experience you provide. These design elements are common to many business websites. But as always there are some exceptions as well.

Just like every business is different, so is every website. Every business differs from others in terms of scope, scale, niche, and market. This is directly related to the user expectations of the intended target audience. The users of a women fashion store will have totally different expectations from the audience of an industrial products company.

You also need to take into account the understanding and familiarity of your target audience. For example, users of a restaurant website will not expect the sophisticated search options expected by readers of a niche blog. The user experience of any website depends on user experience you create for the user. You know, the people who you expect to consume your content, and exercise their credit card.

You can start with these WordPress UX design elements and gradually add features that are specific to your business or product brand. Technology is advancing rapidly. In the near future, website users will be equipped with more knowledge and insights. This means they will expect more from your website design and functionality.

Continuously improving and enhancing your WordPress user experience design will take skill, time and effort. We are here to help.

ESPRESSO.digital - Innovative Web Design Blog - CTA BG Image

Need Help improving Your WordPress UX Design?

And if you are still not sure how you can benefit from using WordPress, don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best way to improve and enhance your WordPress user experience design. It is one of our specialties, after all!

Are You Using WordPress?

Are you using WordPress for your business or product brand? If so, are you providing an adequate user experience to meet your mobile user expectations? If not, what is the biggest obstacle to improving your WordPress UX design? Do you have other problems with your business website? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!

Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!

By Gregor Schmidt
Co-Founder / CXO
@gregorspeaks

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