It’s a digital-first world where most people, especially millennials, live with the FOMO factor—the reason why they remain hyperconnected most of the time and expect more out of brands. This makes businesses deliver extraordinary customer experience.
According to a study by Walker, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. To deliver exceptional customer experiences, you need to offer customers all the brand-related information.
No matter how your target audience reaches your brand, they engage with it through your website. But having a website alone is not enough. To turn your website into a social destination, you need an online community where you act as the sole host. And you must design and develop your community, considering all the purposes it is meant to serve.
A well-built community does the groundwork for building steady and staunch relationships with your customers. It helps you decrease service costs, improve customer retention and loyalty, and increase revenue.
When designing your online community, ask yourself:
- How can I make it easier to browse through pages and discussions?
- Are there any roadblocks that make it difficult for people to search for the library or past discussions?
- Is contributing to a discussion easy and intuitive?
Based on the answers to the questions above, decide on the elements that your community can’t afford to not have. In this blog post, we have listed six essential design elements that you must employ for an outstanding community user experience:
1. Interactive Navigation Menu
Your customer first looks for a navigation menu on your community, which could take them straight to what they are looking for. Therefore, you need to anticipate what your community users may want to learn about. However, consider providing them with navigation choices for the most popular pages and the most important information.
To enable the user to understand where they exactly are (a post, home page, or a discussion thread) and where they are in the global navigation, you need to work on the sidebar navigation and make it more interactive.
Your community should clearly tell what users can do next. A community’s information architecture (IA) is generally fluid in nature, which is why related links and graphical cues in the side navigation menu are necessary to guide the user. Breadcrumb navigation not only improves user experience, but your site’s SEO as well.
2. Intelligent Browsing
Online communities are no different than any other website. Your community should be designed to facilitate effective browsing and easy navigation across multiple links that makes your customers stay.
Keep the community IA simple, hierarchical, and flexible to let the user know exactly where they are. Provide users with clear headers, links to posts along with content previews, faceted search, and easy-to-understand calls to action.
Everything, including the discussions and curation, should make sense. Activity feed is one of the most important design elements that displays the complete activity on the community. Users can easily find out the most recent activity or the most relevant content in no time. It also encourages users to contribute more to discussions, share content, and follow members.
3. Dynamic Hero Banners
Hero banners define the goals of your community and quickly grab visitors’ attention. Thus, these form a vital part of your community’s visual design, and should be welcoming and should communicate the right brand messaging.
A static hero image for all your online community web pages adversely affects your customer experience. However, it is generally a toilsome and expensive task for community managers to personalize the hero image for each web page. They either need to hire a third-party vendor or give up on it completely.
What’s the solution? Our Lithium experts developed an easy solution—a custom tool within Lithium admin—for a customer. The dynamic banner update element allowed their community manager to easily personalize the banner when required, simply by uploading the image on the Lithium platform.
4. Clear Call to Action
As much as you may tend to undervalue it, a clear and easy-to-understand call to action really matters. The level of prominence and ease of your call to action is directly proportional to the rate of your conversions.
Consider the color scheme when designing the call to action, and simply tell the users what they need to do next. The lesser the confusion, the better. For instance, user terms such as “Click here” or “Contact us now”.
5. Right and Meaningful Pop Ups, Mouseover etc.
Providing complete information to your customers in one go will do you little good. Limiting access to information is the key to maximizing your sales and marketing efforts by gathering more customer information.
Ensure gated access to customers by implementing the right popups in your community. The popups with progressive profiling will prompt interested users to fill more of their details to deep dive into the available information.
Don’t forget to use the mouse hover element too, which gets activated once the user hovers the pointer over a particular link. This element helps them get a quick content preview and decide whether to click on a link or not.
6. Branding and Color Scheme
Different colors evoke different emotions in people. That’s the key. You need to keep a color scheme that resonates with the emotions of your customers. Also, it should reflect on your brand.
Remember: The more you relate to their emotions, the higher it impacts their decision-making.
Keep your brand colors consistent everywhere, particularly the logo or website. Using the same color everywhere increases your brand awareness and help your customers immediately connect with it. It even has an impact on your sales and overall revenue.
Let’s take a look at the impact a good community UX can have on your business.
Use Lithium Communities to:
- Increase conversion rates by 25%
- Grow average customer spend by 2.5x
- Deflect 20% of calls to your contact center
- Crowdsource ideas for your next generation of products
Your community UX is all about how you delight your prospects and customers. The only way to delight them and ensure 100% customer satisfaction is to provide them an experience that they expect out of you.
The UX of your community doesn’t need to be complex or baffling. Rather, it is better when it is simple, user-friendly, and interactive.