When it comes to increasing user engagement, most website owners focus on the ad copy or the content of their page. However, a big part of having good user engagement metrics is dependent on the design. The user interface, overall user experience, navigation menu, layout, colors and fonts are all elements that need to be addressed. To give you a good starting point to changing your web design to increase user engagement, here are some tips and strategies that you can use.
1. Design with Visual Storytelling
Visual storytelling is one of the most engaging ways to present your website and content. It uses powerful storytelling combined with visual aids to lead the visitor from one point to the next in what seems like a seamless manner. But this only happens if visual storytelling is implemented properly. It is one of the most challenging design approaches to pull off.
In order to design with visual storytelling, you need to start with a powerful story that’s interesting to your audience. It needs to be followed up with a lot of work into designing the content which includes visual cues, content layout, typography, iconography, relevant statistics, and more. You need to make sure that the language of your content is engaging and there is a progression that makes users want to continue consuming the content.
2. Enable Interactive Elements
If you want users to be engaged, then start by providing them options to do so. One of the best examples of using interactive elements is the live chat function you find in many commercial sites. For example, many web hosting companies provide the option to visitors being able to talk to a live operator with a click of a button. Not only does this drive engagement, it also helps web hosting companies increase their sales and customer satisfaction.
It’s not limited to just live chat. There are many other interactive elements that you can add to your website. The easiest one you’ll be able to implement is social share buttons. You want to give users the option to sharing your content to their social profiles if they liked what they read. Another easy engagement tool you can set up is a poll or a survey. Give users the ability to contribute feedback and you’ll be surprised at all the responses you get. It also has the added benefit of providing more information into your audience.
3. Use More Videos
Videos are becoming more commonplace today. However, many businesses are opting to not produce video content because it takes longer to create, consumes more resources and is more costly. But this is a big mistake as videos are one of the best ways to engage users. According to Hubspot, videos under 90 seconds are shown to have an average retention rate of 53% while with the top video content retain 77% of viewers until the very end. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to start investing thousands of dollars into video production.
Video can be a great design addition to your website. Short videos that explain how to use your site, simplify complex functions or provide clear directions can add a lot of value to users. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your main content. Videos can be a website supplement that helps users navigate your content and understand how to use your website’s or app’s functionalities.
4. Test Different Designs
You never know what it is about your design that’s hurting your engagement numbers unless you run experiments. In order to really figure out what’s working and what’s not, you have to test different website designs and keep track of which elements perform and which elements don’t. The best way to start this process is to use a heatmap and click activity tracking tool like Crazy Egg. These tools work by showing you where most of the users are clicking and generate a heat map of the most clicked areas.
So if the top fold of your website is grey and the middle or right hand side of your website is orange/red, it means that you need to redo the design on the top fold of your website. Once you get an idea of what needs to be improved, you can use multi variant testing to test multiple iterations of an element and find the combination of elements that result in the highest engagement rates (clicks, scroll progress, email subscriptions, navigation menu interaction, sales, etc.).
5. Integrate Special Effects into Content
A trend that’s starting to become more popular is using special effects in website content. The most common one that you’ve probably come across is the graphical transition effect. When you scroll down, an element slides into place to grab your attention. Sometimes designers make elements fade out so that you can focus on the new area of the page as you scroll down.
There are many ways to use these kinds of special effects. There are examples of websites that have an interactive component that display information when users can hover over graphical elements. There’s the 3D flip effect that some websites are using on their call to action buttons to get more users to make the click. Then there’s the parallax effect where an animation like presentation occurs as users continue scrolling through the page. All of these special effects can be used to boost engagement numbers dramatically.
As you can see, there are many ways to use design to improve performance if your user engagement numbers are low. Many of these solutions do not have to be that complex. As you’ve just learned, different special effects can engage users. At the end of the day, design is a big factor in user engagement but it’s still only a part of the solution. You’ll still have to work on proper traffic targeting, relevant content and targeted messaging if you want to realize the highest engagement metrics your website can possibly get.