We recommend following these best practices and sharing them with your internal team to promote consistency in your work and across your website.
1. You are not the user - You would be surprised how often we remind people that they are not the user. It can be easy to assume you know how a user would navigate your site, complete a task online, etc. but the truth is your users may have a completely different thought process. When you are creating content or adjusting your website always be sure to take a moment and ensure you aren't making assumptions about your users' behaviour.
2. Consistently improve your site - User expectations are always evolving, which means your site should not remain static if your goal is to meet and exceed these expectations. Set a goal to periodically review your website or to make a certain number of improvements each quarter. (Sign up for our quarterly newsletter to get valuable insights and stay on top of digital trends). If you aren't sure where to start, try gaining user feedback through UX testing or surveys to find your users' pain points when it comes to your website.
3. Be Accessible - Ensuring your website can be accessed by everyone is the first step to creating a website that is user-focused. Look for some of the common offenders we see on websites and keep this top of mind for your content creators:
- Text in images - Screen readers will not pick up on the text within an image and therefore some users may miss valuable information. Learn more about best practices for website images here
- Missing alt text - Without alt text for images, many users will not have an optimal experience on your site since they have no reference as to what the images contain. To learn more view this article on how to write alt text
- Alt text that does not represent what is shown in the image - Your alt text should be short and descriptive of what is in the image to give everyone the same experience when on your site
- Improper use of headings - Similar to how you may just scan the heading on a page to see the information topics on the page, a screen reader does the same. Improper use of headings will create a confusing or time-consuming process for those that use screen readers
- Unclear link text - Your link text should give users a clear understanding of where the link will take them. Avoid using text like "click here" and this does not provide users with enough context
Accessibility is not only important in relation to building a website or creating content that is accessible but maintaining that accessibility. We recommend periodically auditing your website for accessibility issues. This could be done manually or with a scanning tool. We recommend using a scanning tool for efficiency, while also working with an accessibility expert to correctly remedy any flagged issues.
4. Consistency - Having a consistent font, design, menu location, etc. will provide your users with a better experience when navigating your site. Information will be more digestible and they will be able to find the information they are looking for in a timely manner. Additionally, they will have a better connection to your brand when the terms, tone, and writing style is consistent across your site. We recommend implementing a brand and content guide to assist with consistency across your team.
5. Know when to use qualitative vs quantitative research - There are many benefits to qualitative and quantitative research, but they will provide very different insights. Your team should know which method will provide you with the information you need to meet your UX goals. We recommend using qualitative research when you want to investigate known pain points, test proposed solutions, gain insight beyond verbal feedback, and understand the emotional impact. Quantitative research is best when you are focused on the numbers and want measurable data, want feedback from a large group of people, and want a snapshot of the current state of some aspect of your site.
6. Provide feedback options - Citizens are increasingly interested in being involved in local happenings and the services they receive. We recommend incorporating more than one feedback option to increase the likelihood of users providing feedback (check out this article on quick ways to increase engagement on your website). Some options include live chats, engagement tools, feedback forms, and Q&A sections. These feedback options can match your internal workflows to increase efficiency.
7. Clear and simple content - Content should be easy to read, and understood quickly by your users. Readability levels are a hot topic as accessibility legislation is coming into effect across North America. Often users want to find a clear and simple answer to their question, there is no need for fancy terminology or industry jargon on your site.
Upanup is a leader in UX, having facilitated hundreds of UX testing sessions (view these tips on remote testing). If you would like to learn more or gain access to our free on-demand webinars that focus on UX for Municipalities or UX for Energy and Utility, please reach out to our team today.