A website is one of the most important points of contact for businesses to interact with their potential consumers. Designing a website that looks good is simply the beginning.
In order to build an effective website that will attract users and generate relevant traffic/leads, it is equally important to focus on user intent while designing your website.
An Insight into User-intent
User intent is the purpose with which a user lands on your website. Users, based on their intent can be divided into three main categories:
An informational user is not aware of exactly what he/she wants and is simply browsing your website to know more about you and consider their options. For e.g. a user who is browsing through their Amazon feed.
Educational users are not particularly interested in buying or opting for any product or service and are simply browsing your website to gain knowledge. For e.g. the user wishes to upgrade their earphones and looks through various earphone options listed on Amazon.
Transactional users know exactly what they wish to buy or sign up for and are considering your company for the same. Such users are on your website usually to inquire about the buying process and pricing. For e.g. a user who knows he/she wants to buy the new Sony earphones and orders it from Amazon.
The Importance of User Intent in Website Design
In order to design a website that attracts more traction, you keep in mind- What is it that your users want?
According to the Guardian, if your website is not intuitive, it will render your website redundant and users are bound to bounce off of your page. In simpler terms, if your website doesn’t provide a good user experience, more visitors will leave your website after browsing a single page.
Designing a website that provides users exactly what they are looking for and is easy to browse through will benefit you in multiple ways:
Drive more traffic by engaging users
Placing engaging content at accurate places, and easy navigation leads to more users exploring different aspects of your website.
Reduce bounce rate and exit rate
Easy navigation through website and compelling CTAs will lead users to explore more.
Benefit SEO practices
Designing the website and the content with user-intent in mind makes it more relevant to user searches. Having only the relevant information and content on your website is bound to improve your rankings.
Generate relevant leads
With a well-structured website and relevant content, the possibility of the right users clicking through your website and landing pages increases.
Drive brand awareness
More the number of website visitors who actually engage with the website, more the brand awareness.
Designing User-intent Based Websites
Once you understand the importance of user-intent in website design, the next step is to actually implement the concept. Here are a few things one must consider while designing intent-based websites:
1. Start with research
Research prior to the actual designing process will save you a lot of additional costs on a website-revamp, in the future. You must understand the traffic flow and the user base you are targeting before you begin work on the website design.
The best way to understand the type of users that are browsing your website is to analyze the User Flow Report of your existing website in Google Analytics. You must analyze the data collected in the form of demographics, website heat map, user-flow, etc.
You can also check out websites similar to yours and understand their overall design structure, and how it helps the user fulfill their purpose of a website visit.
2. Plan out strategically
Once you are thorough with the target audience for your website, you must start designing the structure of your website. The first step is to design the information architecture for your website based keeping user intent in mind.
Information architecture, by definition, is “the structural design of shared information environment”. In simpler terms, it is to design a flow of information available on your website.
Create a site-map for all the pages of your website aligning with the flow of your content. Include the main and sub-categories.
3. Focus on the navigation bar
One of the most important aspects while designing an intent-based website is to focus on the navigation bar. The User flow report will help you understand how users are navigating through your website. You must make sure that there is something for every type of users on your website and place it clearly on your website’s navigation bar.
For e.g. an ‘About us’ page is perfect to attract informational users. Educational users may wish to look at website pages labeled as ‘Resource’ while transactional users may click right on to a ‘Pricing’ or a ‘Request a Demo’ landing page.
In order to design an intent-based website, the navigation bar is the map you give your users to help them reach exactly the page they would be looking for, loud and clear. Any additional hassle for the user in terms of navigating through your website is another potential user lost.
You can design your navigation bar in two ways:
Each category is a product or an offering
Each category is a consumer type divided based on your offerings
Divide it based on your user intent type and categorize the pages that are most suitable for your company and your niche. Another point to keep in mind while going ahead with the UX design of your navigation bar is to sort out the placements.
Users usually tend to read the navigation bar from left to right, browse any e-commerce site, and you will see transactional icons/links such as the ‘Cart’ are usually placed towards the right end, while links to informational pages such as ‘About us’ are placed on the left side of the screen.
Thus, it is advisable to prioritize categories that can inform users and generate interests by placing them on the left.
4. The content
Right from the navigation bar to the content within each page, make sure that the wording is clear and your message comes across as it is meant to be. Apart from that, the fonts, colors, images, and banners used must be relevant to the content on each page.
For e.g., using the Breadcrumbs Technique while designing a ‘Request Demo’ landing page.
Designing a landing page that requests personal information right at the top without any additional context is bound to increase user anxiety having them abandon the said landing page. Instead, provide some context about your product and design your form using the breadcrumbs technique, easing their way into signing up for your product.
Content placement and designing each section in a way that intended content stands out is another important factor in designing intent-based websites.
These are just a few pointers that you must keep in mind before you proceed with the UX design of your website.
Thus, user intent is a really important concept in website design that, if planned and executed well, is bound to maximize traffic to a great extent and improve the overall user experience.
This article is voluntarily contributed by Hardik Shah of Simform.
Hardik Shah works as a Tech Consultant at Simform, a leading custom software development company. He leads large scale mobility programs covering platforms, solutions, governance, standardization, and best practices.