As always, Google is gearing up for change next year. Not only will the Core Web Vitals be a huge change for digital marketers and web designers, it means big changes are on the horizon for business owners, too.
In this article, WebRealSimple explains why the new metrics matter to Google and what it means for the health of your existing website. Finally, we’ll dive into the must-have UX features that your website will need and how to ensure you’re ready to go before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.
From emphasizing the creation of quality content to making mobile-first browsing a priority, the king of the internet has carved out a path for all who aim to rank. Continuing on its path of becoming the most user friendly search engine around, Google has announced more changes to come.
According to the latest news, Google’s Core Web Vitals initiative will provide unified guidance for creating and delivering an optimal user experience on the web. So, what exactly does that mean?
While the ranking metrics will evolve over time, the search engine has focused on these three aspects of UX for 2020: loading (LCP), interactivity (FID), and visual stability (CLS). As you can see in the image below, each metric is outlined with their respective thresholds to help individuals better understand how to hit the recommended target for a majority of their users.
One of the biggest ranking metrics continues to be a website’s loading speed, which Google and marketing authorities have consistently focused on in recent years. These metrics are ‘field measurable’ which means they capture real-world user experiences and enable businesses to track KPIs.
Image source: Google web.dev, June 2020.
How to Improve Your Website Rankings
As we focus on user experience, we’ve compiled a checklist to ensure your website is up to par when Google’s Core Web Vitals algorithm goes into full swing next year. This should begin with an audit of your current processes and how your existing website functions against competitors and per Google’s guidelines. Without further adieu, here are the 10 UX must-have items for 2021:
- UX Content Development. If you’re a digital marketer, you’ve probably seen the signs that search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming an antiquated practice. Sure, it served its purpose for upwards of 10 years, but as is the way of the internet, it’s time to move away from old practices. Content should provide succinct answers to relevant questions, in a manner that is fully relatable to humans instead of machines.
- ADA Compliant. While struggling with the best way to create alt text for images, an SEO at work told me to “write it as if you’re explaining this image to a blind person”. At first, I was taken aback by the language used. However, I took a thoughtful approach and realized that the internet is used every day by people with disabilities. Great UX means your website is accessible to everyone, not just to some.
- User On-Boarding. If the first experience a user has with your website is a confusing navigation menu or a slow load speed, they’ll go somewhere else. First impressions matter, both on and offline. If your website requires heavy lifting from potential clients, or doesn’t provide the necessary information as quickly as possible, it’s a safe assumption that they won’t be back. Or worse, they’ll visit your competitors instead.
- Chatbots. In the spirit of creating a world class user experience, chatbots cannot be dismissed. Live chat (typically managed by AI, thus referred to as a ‘chat bot’) is a popular website feature that is easy to implement. Not only can it act as a lead capture tool, it provides an immediate touchpoint for inquiring visitors. Furthermore, many Millennials and Gen Z’ers prefer to text rather than have a phone conversation unless absolutely necessary. A chatbot feature gives these cohorts the ability to get the answers they need via their preferred medium.
- Simple Navigation. This one may be self-explanatory, but it’s noteworthy nonetheless. Having a clear, concise manner in which to navigate your website (both on the back and front end) ensures users and search engines have a simple way to understand and navigate your site. Buttons or navigation menus that are difficult to locate or are unresponsive will have a negative impact on your website’s overall UX. Our best advice is to keep the navigation simple.
- Micro-Interactions. Adding interactive features to your site, such as micro-interactions, can provide a quick boost to an otherwise stale UX. These can be as simple as an animated ‘SUCCESS!’ button that pops up when a user submits a form or, for example, a row of characters that move or wiggle when a user lands on the page (see: the way Google or Facebook animates their logos in observance of specific holidays). The overall goal of a micro-interaction is to engage and welcome a human user.
- Site Speed. If it takes too long to download and display your website, or a certain page on your website, your users will go elsewhere. It’s been harped on for several years, but some sites are still too slow to warrant high rankings on Google. According to 2018 research from Google, 53% of mobile users reported that they leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
- Uniformity. Last but certainly not least, keep your UX uniform. If you’re like most business owners, your website is just one of the many touchpoints for your consumers. Your brand should have a defined voice and personality that is unique, but uniform, across all platforms. This ensures you’re distinct from competitors and recognizable for returning customers or word-of-mouth visitors.
Ready for more information on how to transform your UX? Get in touch with WebRealSimple to make sure your website UX is up to the challenge.