Hat Trick Blog

Keeping website visitors engaged: Part 1 - Technical Aspects

added on Friday 9th June 2017 at 14:33pm


Tagged: Advice, Blog, SEO, Usability



Keeping website visitors engaged: Part 1 - Technical Aspects
Welcome to the first part of our "keeping your visitors engaged" blog series. In this part we will be looking at the technical aspects of a website and how they could effect the engagement of your visitors.

Let's breakdown "technical" and make sure it's not too boring!
  • Speed
  • Security
  • User Experience / User Interface
It's important to note that perfecting a single thing will not always bring you out on top. Try to focus on your websites pain points across the board - if you notice the website is slow then try to make improvements in the speed but also keep measuring other aspects such as the security and overall user experience.

User Engagement

When we talk about user engagement we want to focus on how the user engages (interacts) with your website. We want to focus on certain metrics:
  • Time on page
  • Social sharing
  • Links clicked
  • Pages viewed per session
  • Off page engagements (clicking onto your Facebook page from your website and then liking your Facebook page)
  • Page specific engagements (filling out an enquiry form)
An ideal scenario of user engagement would be someone finding your website via a search engine, they then like what they see on your website and start clicking around. They visit 4 or 5 pages, spend a few minutes on the website and possibly share a page on social media.

Speed

There is one item that we discuss a lot in this blog post and there is a good reason behind that. We are now part of a world where people expect (not want) instant results at the swap of a finger or the click of a mouse. Website speed doesn't just lose e-commerce businesses sales but also companies that use their websites to simply share information such as services and prices.

There are a number of aspects that can affect the speed of your website but also the user engagement:
  • Slow system - your website might be powered by a content management system (CMS) which is slow, old, out-of-date and potentially vulnerable to security attacks.
  • Server location - you might think that web hosting deal you got was great, who would have thought that hosting in America was cheaper than the UK?! Your users will not agree. If you are a website targeted at a specific location or area then try to get hosting as close as possible. The further away your users are from your server then they longer they will have to wait.
  • User hardware / software - You cannot control what devices or browsers your users connect to your website with but you can make some changes that will benefit them. Older hardware (phones, laptops etc) and older website browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer 7) cannot handle today's fancy website animations and things we often take for granted. You can always look at your Analytics to get a rough idea of the hardware and software your users are using to view your website and make adjustments to handle that. We currently support Internet Explorer 9 but over the last few years have noticed the drop in usage go down significantly.




Security

Something that has always been important and at the forefront of peoples minds is security. There is no escaping it and the effects on your website and company can be detrimental. Interestingly security has often been a separate concern to user engagement but its now slowly merging into one.

As you are reading this article, you may have noticed your browser telling you that this website is secure:



We hope this makes you feel a little bit safer! Any information sent between you and this website is encrypted so no Snooping Sally's can see that information - your privacy is intact! People find the green lock comforting and we believe this goes hand in hand with user engagement. If they trust the website then they are more likely to visit other pages, share with friends and come back another time.

Now imagine seeing this:



Would you want to continue using that website and share it with your friends? I hope not!

User Experience / User Interface

These are two slightly different topics but tie in together quite well when it comes to user engagement. 
  • User experience - This is the experience that your user interface gives. Do any animations happen when a button is clicked? Do pages load in a specific way? Does the website work as expected when interacted with?
  • User interface - The display / interface that the user sees. This can be a website and part of that interface is a button. It could be complex with many buttons, form elements and sections.
Creating a beautiful looking user interface is important but creating a great user experience is even better! Let's look into how these two user elements can affect user engagement:
  • User experience - If a user clicks on a button and the expected action does not happen then how will the user feel? I'd feel slightly confused and try clicking again. If that doesn't work then I would likely go elsewhere - whether that be another page or another website. Imagine loosing a customer because your website didn't work as expected?
  • User interface - If the website looks messy and confusing, will the user really try and work out which button needs pressing for the action they desire? People don't hang around and waste time trying to make something work. If it doesn't make sense many people will drop your site and go elsewhere.


End

There you have it - technically it sounds easy, right? Don't worry! There are many aspects to creating a technically sound website that would help improve your user engagement. Focus on speed - that's what everyone else is doing in the industry. Ask someone to go through your website and do simple tasks such as finding a page or submitting a form. This will show you how your user experience and user interface effects the user as well.

We hope you found this useful and look forward to the next guide! If you are not sure how well your website rates on the technical aspects of user engagement then your in luck! We are offering a technical user engagement report. We'll test many different aspects of your website and break them down into digestible section with a score. You can phone the office or email us for more information.

If you are interested in any of our website design, graphic design or email marketing services then please feel free to contact us via telephone on 01476 576 839 or email on thrive@hattrickmedia.co.uk.