As a self storage owner, how often do you consider your website’s User Interface (UI)? If you’re not heavily invested in the design process, you may want to reconsider your distance from it. You may be missing a key way to collect qualified leads, influence sales, or create goodwill with customers. Let’s take a look why UI matters, what good UI looks like, and three reasons it should be a cornerstone of your marketing and sales efforts.
What is UI?
When it comes to web design and development, UI refers to all the tools users can utilize to navigate to where they want – or have been encouraged to travel – on your site. It involves choosing design and interface elements such as input fields, forms, color selection, navigational elements, and text.
As the web has continued to develop, many users have come to expect certain behaviors from websites and their elements. For example, important navigation information or items are often displayed at the top of a website. Likewise, links to other portions of the website are often different colors than the rest of the body text. Headers are consistently larger (and usually in a different font) than the sections of text that follow.
Interacting with these elements through clicking and scrolling is often referred to as User Experience (UX). UX and UI dovetail with one another because a good user interface is an important component of ensuring a good user experience. They are not, however, the same. For example, it is possible for a website to have an unattractive design but function in a way that’s simple and effective for the user. The opposite side of that coin is also true.
Web design and development teams are often tasked with marrying the two, creating a seamless, attractive experience for the user that is both appealing and intuitive.
What is Good UI?
Good UI is intuitive, clean, and designed with purpose and intent. More importantly, good UI follows conventions of good design (in most cases). It is accessible to the widest possible portion of the general public by being inclusive in both form and language. Subverting those expectations can often lead to frustration with your user base, as illustrated in books like Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug or Ginny Redish’s excellent Letting Go of the Words.
When all else fails, get to know your users and their needs, goals, and behaviors. Utilize heat mapping and (where possible) user recordings or tests to understand the issues they may encounter or discuss when using your site. You can then take that data and use it to design a better interface.
User Interface Best Practices
If you’re having trouble imagining what a good user interface might look like, it helps to keep the following concepts in mind:
- Utilize a clean, simple interface and clear language for labels and messaging
- Deploy consistent, common elements like specific easy-to-read typography and menu placement
- Feature page layouts with carefully placed elements and good readability
- Use color and texture purposefully and effectively
For more detailed information on effective UI design, visit usability.gov.
Why Does Good UI Matter?
Now that we have an idea what good UI looks like, let’s talk about why it’s a great investment. When thinking about how UI can impact your business, avoid the temptation to look at it as an expensive proposition. Instead, look at it from every angle.
UI is an extension of your brand. If you’ve developed a reputation for excellent, accessible service, it only makes sense to carry that attitude forward. Ensuring that your customer base can easily discern the appropriate elements necessary for behaviors they want to perform will pay dividends and potentially lead them further into the sales funnel. Poor UI does the opposite, damaging your brand in the process.
Good UI on the right landing page can make a world of difference. By having easy-to-use contact forms (and appropriate content to drive users to them), you will invite potential customers to turn into highly qualified leads by submitting their information. Those customers will either continue down the funnel on their own or give you ample opportunity to engage in targeted advertising efforts like social media, search retargeting, or even simple follow-up via mail or telephone.
The final part of the process might delve into the UX component, but having a convenient, easy-to-navigate and manage sales tool directly on the website can help expedite the sales process and reduce overhead.
If you’re trying to target a digitally savvy customer base, allowing them the ability to shop for, rent, and pay for a self storage unit is a huge boost to revenue.
But the first step of this process is having a clean UI design to encourage their journey down the sales funnel. A good SEO agency will tell you the importance of keeping traffic on your site and eliminating as many bounces as possible; an attractive user interface (and great user experience) is a cornerstone of those efforts.
Who Should I Talk To About UI?
Don’t be roped into the idea that building your own website is a simple process; self storage management in particular has a lot of moving parts, especially in regards to reservations, billing, and website management. Usability design and accessibility are also complicated issues that benefit from an experienced touch.
When thinking about web design, user interface, and user experience, a professional approach is often the best. By looking at UI from a holistic perspective – including utilizing historic data to make decisions about design – the entire process will better serve your business and create an experience and interface that your users will love and return to again and again.