Anyone serious about running an online business is looking for ways to help boost their website’s user experience. Here we’ll look at 3 key ways to help you do just that.

When was the last time you used your own website or asked someone to take a trial run on it?

Website's User Experience

This kind of exercise can help you identify areas where you can strengthen your website’s user experience. The user experience — also called UX — is key to making your website useful to visitors. Here are three ways you can boost the UX on your site to encourage longer visits and interactions.

Make Your Website Easy to Get Around

Retail websites can get pretty big, particularly as new products and content are added. Make it easy for visitors by adding a search box, or even better, drop-down menus that tell users their options and help them understand what they want or need to purchase from you.

Let’s say you sell a product that offers dozens of features, like cameras. In addition to letting people view cameras sorted by price, you also can offer sorts by brand, size, zoom capability, pixels, memory and so on.

Drop-down menus also take out a lot of guesswork in ordering the right product. Take a look at how a tire retailer can match car makes and models to appropriate tires. This function also works very well on mobile sites and is a staple on many.

Boost Your Website’s Mobile-Friendliness

Here’s something to consider: most people are visiting your site through their smartphones. Almost two-thirds of all Americans own a smartphone, according to research from Pew, and ownership is particularly prevalent among those with college education and higher salaries.

This means your site should be mobile-friendly.

Many website themes today come with a mobile-friendly tool that automatically detects a smartphone visitor. Make the one you have work well and smarter by making the site easier to read from a smartphone.

This means breaking up content into shorter sentences and paragraphs and using bullet points. Mobile users are used to scrolling down, so don’t worry that you’re forcing them to “work” as they browse.

Make Sure Your Website Downloads Quickly

Every nanosecond literally counts when it comes to website downloading. KISSMetrics, which has studied downloads extensively, says page abandonment rises sharply after four seconds. By 10 seconds, about 40 percent of would-be site visitors abandon the attempt.

It’s hard, though, for retail and ecommerce sites to download quickly. They have to show a lot of photos, which take up tons of space. Marketing Land reports the average retail site takes 7.25 seconds to load for a first-time visitor.

So what can a website manager do?

    • Cache static pages. Pages that don’t change much or very often don’t need a “fresh” download each time a user visits it. Caching stores a copy of a webpage in users’ history for subsequent visits. Fresh copies download when the site detects an older page in the cache.

    • Minify content. Minifying tools or plugins shrink the size of text files by eliminating empty spaces, thus minimizing the amount of content a website takes up.

Another option is to discuss page rendering with your developer. Page rendering provides a gradual download of information, starting with information requested in the search. According to the Web Performance Today industry blog, getting relevant information out first can be more effective in keeping visitors on a site than faster page downloads.