Shari Thurow, Founder and SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive, and author, When Search Meets Web Usability (New Riders, 2009) is a great lover of libraries; her mother used to punish her by taking away her library card!
She noted that most library sites are bad. Ways to boost user engagement include Persuasion, Emotion, Trust (PET). Trust comes first in persuading people; they must trust a site in a split second, otherwise they will hit the Back button. Here are 16 trust markers:
User engagement tips.
- The most important is validating user mental models. If people don’t see a link or the labels are not helpful, they won’t click on it. A mental model is an explanation of a person’s thought process about how something works, faithfully representing that person’s root motivations and their matching behaviors. Google’s 404 page is not helpful.
- Learn and validate user mental models for labeling, placement, and content format.
- Use the user’s language. Group related items–learning links first, action links last. Don’t put vague or confusing labels within navigation and main content. Determine the best labels for the site. When you use an icon, have a label with it. Over 80% of search failures are because of navigation problems.
- Place formal navigational elements where users expect to see them. Always communicate visited/unvisited link status. Put a link to the Home page on the site (but not on the Home page!). If you want people to do things on your site, align the text at the left. When you are designing for mobile engagement, design for a finger.
- Library websites should have linkworthy and shareworthy content assets. People follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. Types of digital content assets:
Learn how to do slideshows. Find out what schools are teaching. Link assets must be shareable and desirable (i.e. linkable)
You don’t have to use every social media platform; stay away from new ones or those you do not have resources to participate in. If a site supports user mental models, user confidence and satisfaction are increased. People are more likely to engage in a given behavior the less effort it requires.
- Use a brand perception usability test to learn what your users prefer every time you redesign your site. You can’t administer the test because you might ask leading questions, but you can observe it. Strike a balance between user expectations and business goals. Users love giving advice. Here are some useful legibility tools:
- Use color psychology and color palette tools to help you determine a website’s formal color scheme. A good resource is https://color.adobe.com. For a desktop page, make sure hovering makes a link stand out. Communicate prioritized calls to action–what do you want users to do on your site? If you cannot immediately say what you want users to do, then the calls to action (CTAs) are not obvious to users.
- Clearly define preferred calls to action per page type or template. Get users to do something quickly by using words like never, over, quick, rapidly, etc.
- Trust comes first.
- Validate user mental models.
- Use the user’s language.
- Place navigation elements where users expect to see them. Always communicate visited/unvisited link status.
- Encourage linking and sharing.
- Use brand perception tests.
- Use color wisely.
- Clearly communicate and prioritize CTAs.