Business owners in the digital age are all too familiar with how important user interface and user experience are to the success of their brand. Experts throughout the industry agree that in order to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving online world, businesses must incorporate good UX into their web design and in their mobile formats, or else they’ll quickly be left behind. This starts in the very beginning from choosing a domain that will resonate with customers, all the way to the “thank you” page after a purchase.

While the term “UX” is only a few years in the making, the concept of creating designs that are user-friendly is hardly new.

 “Good design is good business,” the second president of IBM, Thomas J. Watson, told Wharton students in 1973. “We are convinced,” he said, “that good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential.”

Now that we’ve reached the digital age, numerous websites and mobile apps have proven that UX is essential to performance and profitability. Take one look at your phone’s app store, and you can see why. Numerous businesses and developers may have the same idea, but it’s clear that those who prioritize UX are reviewed and perform much better.

“Apple didn’t invent the smartphone, but it made one very easy to use,” Forbes contributor, Andrew Kucheriavy argues. “Facebook wasn’t the first social network, but its simplicity was instrumental to its growth. There were many other search engines before Google, but none made it so easy to find the most relevant information. All three companies became successful by improving user experience for products that already existed.”

In addition to these success stories, numerous studies suggest that user experience is one of the most important aspects of web and mobile design. According to reports by Kissmetrics, you have merely seconds to influence a user to stay on your site, which means that investing in user experience is of vital importance. Other case studies indicate similar results. According to econsultancy, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. Additionally, according to Veopix, 94% of a user’s first impressions are design-related.

These case studies are significant and indicate that ignoring UX on your site could prove to be detrimental to your brand. Below, we highlight a few ways that poor design and a lack of focus on the user can tank your revenue and hurt the reputation of your business.

Confusing Navigation

Creating user-friendly website navigation is more complex than most may think, but most customers and visitors expect to come across easy-to-use, intuitive navigation. Brands, especially those with limited online experience, should take note of user- experience.

“Small businesses often botch the job by having too many navigation labels in the header, using non-intuitive text for their labels (e.g., “People” versus “About Us”), failing to use sidebar and/or breadcrumb navigation to supplement top-level navigation,” writes Forbes contributor Brad Shorr.

Many of these issues, he notes, can be remedied by having actual users navigate your website.

Websites Not Optimized for Mobile

In today’s business landscape, more people access the internet through mobile devices than from desktop computers, meaning that if your site isn’t optimized for mobile users, you’re losing a significant amount of business–up to 50 percent.

As of April 21, 2015, Google notes that “Google Search will be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in Google Search results. Users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results optimized for their devices.”

While this doesn’t directly affect desktop web traffic, it will affect your traffic overall, especially when you consider that most traffic now comes through mobile devices.

“For the first time in history, more users last month accessed the web from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets than they did from desktops or notebooks,” Yoni Heisler of BGR writes. “According to data released by StatCounter earlier this week, 51.3% of all web visits last month came from mobile devices compared to 48.7% of visits from traditional computing platforms.”

Confusing Contact Options

If your website makes it difficult for users to contact you, they’re more than likely to consider moving on to other businesses that sell similar products.

Be sure to have easy-to-use contact forms, and a visible contact information on every page of your website. It’s also imperative that you respect user privacy and send a confirmation email after they submit a query.

Slow Loading Time

It’s no surprise that today’s consumers hate waiting for their results, meaning that a majority of web users will leave your website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load–talk about making a first impression.

This is a pretty significant metric to consider. As experts have noted, for an online website making $10,000 per day, can lose up to $250,000 lost sales every year simply from having an unresponsive or slow website.

Visual Appeal

Humans are visual beings, which means that websites that aren’t visually appealing are losing a significant amount trust and credibility, leading to lower sales.

“If your website does not have the professional appearance that consumers expect, they will bypass yours and continue their search for a company they feel “fits the bill,” writes Wael Shamsedin. “The moment they click your website, they get their first impression of your company; and how you present your website is a reflection of how you present and manage your business in their eyes.”

As such, maintaining a personal, professional, and well-designed site becomes all the more important in maintaining your business.

User experience has become one of the most important design trends over the past few years. Research and google trends prove that optimizing your site in ways that prioritize the user will not only help performance but can also increase traffic and profits. Those that choose to prioritize these factors will only benefit in the future.

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