Designing for next steps – A forward moving Web experience – #heweb12

This week I was in Milwaukee, Wis. with 700 other higher education Web professionals for the HighEdWeb 2012 national conference. The conference is known for gathering higher education Web leaders and the presentations are second to none and this year was no exception. I’ll post a full wrap-up in the next few days.

Designing for next steps – A forward moving Web experience

I was lucky enough to be invited back to speak about Web user experience. Through my experience hosting EDU Checkup, where I review higher education websites from the perspective of a first time visitor and my work here at Wayne State, the topic is near and dear to my heart.

The official description (below), pretty much sums up the talk but the slides only go so far. The discussion was centered around both the macro and micro experience that any website visitor has.

Getting a visitor to your website is only half the battle: how do you keep them? A lot of attention is put on the “action” items on a homepage but it’s more likely a visitor is landing on an interior page from a Web search or link. Every visual element, content or cue makes an impression with your visitor and influences what next step they take. The last thing you want to do is leave your visitor at a dead end or continuously force them to use the “back” button. With each page having a defined “next step” it gives your visitor a forward moving Web experience. The idea is more than just bigger and brighter action buttons. Your goal is to design an experience that make your visitors care. This session will walk through real life examples to identify common pitfalls and successful approaches, provide techniques to objectively look at your communications from your audience’s point of view and highlight tools to measure and track the success of your communications.

Video of the talk

Next steps from this presentation

  • Take a step back and start discovering your users’ journey. Use a tool like Woopra or Clicktale to experience where and how your users are actually using your website.
  • Use those journeys to travel through your website as your user, experience the site through their eyes.
  • Use a “human proxy” to get insights about feelings as the visitor is moving through the page.
  • Make changes to help the user discover a next step on each page of their journey. Make sure you can track these in your analytics package so you know you’re actually helping your users.
  • Introduce little big details that make the user experience memberable.