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User experience, or UX, is one of the most impactful components of your digital marketing success — or lack thereof. Even if you have great ad campaigns and effective outreach strategies, eventually your prospects will reach your website. If that website is confusing for them to use, unpleasant to navigate, or otherwise demonstrates poor UX, your marketing success rate will drop. 2022 is a great time to consider a website UX audit. Here’s why.
The Emerging Post-COVID World
“Post-COVID” sounds like a bit of a jynx, but what else should we call it? COVID is here to stay, but the pandemic seems to be on the downswing in many parts of the world. A milder omicron variant and higher-than-ever vaccination rates mean that hospitalizations are down relative to case numbers. Things are returning to normal rapidly, after two very odd years.
What does it mean for your website UX? Good question. Two years ago, businesses of all kinds had to adapt rapidly to new regulations and realities. Many went online or began offering additional services through their websites. In many cases, these solutions were ad-hoc, assembled quickly and cheaply, and intended to be temporary.
Two years later, customer behaviour has changed. People have grown accustomed to in-app ordering, delivery services, curbside pickup, and other pandemic-spurred innovations. These behaviours took months and years to develop and will take just as long to wane if ever they do.
In the meantime, many businesses struggle with cobbled-together websites using various services, plugins, apps, and extensions to deliver the services customers expect. Often, these chaotic solutions lead to an inconsistent or downright unfriendly experience for visitors.
A website UX audit can uncover problems with your current, COVID-optimized website and propose solutions to carry forward what matters in the best way possible — while ditching what doesn’t.
The Ongoing Privacy Wars
Consumers care more about privacy than ever before. Many now realize that if you don’t pay for a product, you are the product. Although the EU leads the charge for privacy rights, levying significant fines against tech giants who violate their strict policies, jurisdictions worldwide take it very seriously. Advertisers and social media networks have even taken steps to walk back the tracking they use to target customers to appease these new legal challenges.
Is your website GDPR friendly? Is it ready for looming changes to the online marketing ecosystem, like reduced tracker efficacy and greater data transparency policies? Remember that website UX isn’t just about design and layout: user experience also considers things like user privacy and safety. Ensuring you’re ready for a more regulated, privacy-first internet is good practice as we move toward the next phase of the world wide web.
Accessibility: Are you an a11y?
Accessibility, sometimes abbreviated as a11y, where the ‘11’ represents the eleven characters between ‘a’ and ‘y’ in the word, has always mattered. In 2022, accessibility is very much in focus. Across the globe, accessibility standards continually evolve to address technological advancements and emerging best practices introduced by medical professionals, disability advocates, and other stakeholders.
W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium, is the leading global body responsible for updating and maintaining the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a document outlining requirements and best practices for web accessibility. Later this year, W3C is expected to formally roll out WCAG 2.2, the latest version of the guidelines. This will introduce new accessibility rules and adjust how things like text contrast and size get evaluated.
WCAG offers three levels of compliance for businesses to strive for: A, AA, and AAA. These matter: governments worldwide set their legal accessibility requirements per WCAG and typically require AA compliance. Websites that fall short of WCAG compliance can, in some cases, face legal penalties or even private lawsuits for failing to accommodate persons with disabilities.
If you run a small business and your website isn’t perfect WCAG compliant, the legal risk is low. However, what about the risk to your bottom line? A 2015 study suggests that 253 million people worldwide are blind or suffer from moderate to severe visual impairment. WHO estimates that 360 million people have debilitating hearing loss worldwide. As much as 15% of the global population suffers from dyslexia in some form. These conditions may very well affect your customers and potential customers. As your business grows, your odds of reaching customers with these challenges do, too. What if your inaccessible website prevents a customer from doing business with you?
A website UX audit can help you ensure that your website provides equitable access to your company, regardless of your potential customers’ ability.
Speed and Performance: Keeping up with the Joneses?
One reason to perform a website UX audit is to ensure that you aren’t falling behind the competition. Part of a good UX audit is competitor analysis: what does the best website in your vertical do that you don’t?
New web technologies and trends don’t necessarily make for more beautiful websites than last year’s technology, but they offer other UX advantages. Namely, speed and reliability.
Technologies like static front-ends, Progressive Web Apps, and AMP pages provide faster, more secure experiences for customers across various devices and on spotty mobile connections. These speed and reliability improvements positively impact UX while providing other benefits. Faster sites rank better in Google. Faster sites have higher conversion rates and may require lower hosting costs as they are sometimes less resource-intensive. Finally, fast and efficient websites are better for the environment, requiring less server space and lower data transfer rates than the hulking websites of yesteryear. What if your competitors take the plunge and embrace this faster, safer tech before you do? Falling behind the technology curve can be costlier in the long run than staying ahead of it.
The bottom line
If you think you need a website UX audit, it’s probably a good idea. Given how much is expected to change this year, now might be a perfect time to shore up your online user experience. If you’re looking for a trustworthy partner specialized in UX audits for B2B companies, drop us a line. We’d be happy to discuss your project and make pointed recommendations to build a better experience — for every customer.
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