We've all been on websites that have left us confused or frustrated. Perhaps you just needed contact information but it was nowhere to be found. Maybe the pages were overly complicated or poorly organized. Ugh! Other common issues that leave users scratching their heads or quickly exiting a site include it taking forever to load, containing outdated content, having poor quality graphics, or just being plain boring. These are all examples of problems that can add up to a negative user experience.
According to usability.gov, "User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations." To put it a little more simply, "Did they like the website or not?" If a user enjoys your website, that's a good user experience, and she will likely return to your site and have a positive impression of your institution. A bad user experience indicates that she did not enjoy your site, and that can lead to a negative impression that reflects not only on your website, but on your college or university. A bad user experience can make a big and lasting impression - and not in your favor.
So, if some people can't find what they are looking for on your site - perhaps they think it is difficult to navigate, or the print is too small and they find typos in your content - is that really such a big deal? Is UX actually something that can impact your marketing efforts? Based on the 2015 E-Expectations survey of more than 3,000 college-bound students, you should sit up nice and straight and pay attention when talking about user experience. The survey revealed that 80% of high school seniors and 77% of juniors said college websites influenced their interest more than any other resource. This information makes it crystal clear that in today's extremely competitive higher education business environment, a website that provides a positive user experience must be a priority for any college or university that wants to remain relevant.
A nice place to start when determining if your website is providing a good user experience is how it works for you and your staff. If you don't find navigating your website a pleasant experience, then odds are your site visitors don't enjoy it either.
Beyond stepping back and assessing your website from an objective perspective, a content management system like OU Campus can provide more extensive insights through analytics. OU Campus' Page Analytics Gadget and Site Analytics Gadget both deliver useful information to help you better understand your users' experience. And, OmniUpdate's new module, OU Insights, is an invaluable tool to uncover problems and improve areas that have a critical impact on your site visitors' user experience.
OU Campus provides tools to help you uncover problems that can impact UX
OU Campus combined with Google Analytics also allows you to create A/B tests of pages, comparing multiple variations of a page to see which one performs better. These insights provide key information to assure that your visitors have a positive user experience that will bring them back to your website and even impact their decision to attend your institution.