Design Your Website To Boost User Retention

a beautifully-designed boutique website with an eye-catching banner

User retention is an important priority for any business. Whether a customer is visiting your website for the very first time or considering purchasing another product or service, capturing their attention, keeping them engaged, and driving action means the difference between continued success and closing up shop. One important factor that drives user retention is engaging user design. 

But how do you effectively design your website to keep users captivated and encourage them to do business with you? What are some of the web design best practices you should know to effectively engage users? Let’s take a closer look at how you can design an excellent website. 

What Is User Retention?

User retention is when users continue to engage with and buy a certain product or service. For many businesses that are just beginning their operations, the key focus is building up a customer base. Once a business has developed that base, however, the focus quickly shifts over to retention. 

Why? One study conducted by Harvard Business School revealed that a mere 5% increase in retention rates led to anywhere from a 25% to 75% increase in profits. Especially if you work in a business where products and services need to be purchased on a monthly or weekly basis, retention is the name of the game. 

What Are Some of the Most Important Elements of User Retention?

You need to know how to approach user retention to successfully implement its principles into your website, product, or service design. So, what are the most important elements that you need to focus on when you’re in the initial design stages of your website (or thinking about revamping it altogether)?

Define Your Audience and Their Desired Experience

You need to have a deep understanding of your audience to ensure that they stay on your website and purchase your products and services. Now’s the time to figure out who you’re appealing to and how you can best captivate their attention. Ask yourself, who are they? What motivates them? What type of relationship do they have with your business currently, and how do you wish for that to develop over time?

The more you understand your target audience (and the various demographics your products or services appeal to), the easier it will be to design a website that meets their needs and expectations so you can boost user retention rates. While there might be different segments you target in your marketing campaigns, your website should appeal to the entirety of your target audience. 

Integrate Opportunities To Leave Feedback Into Your Design

customer reviews on a beauty product page

User experience is the heart and soul of your business. Of course, creating an experience that you believe others will enjoy and leveraging current web design best practices is the first step in testing the waters. However, you can’t retain users if you’re not leveraging the most accessible and helpful tool in your arsenal: feedback. 

It’s critical that you not only create systems that empower users and make it easy for them to share their feedback but that you actively listen and incorporate those changes as well. This feedback will be essential to fix issues that are causing users to leave. According to available research, 88% of users will likely not come back to a website after they’ve had a bad user experience.

The key to more successful user retention is to make sure that they never deal with an issue in the first place. Make sure you’re able to receive feedback so that you can fix present issues and prevent future users from having a poor experience with your business’s website. 

Set Goals and Expectations That Encompass the Entire User Experience 

Every business thrives on goals and expectations. From marketing KPIs to your initial business plan to your company mission, goals and expectations are the bread and butter of any business. Set goals and expectations not only for retaining customers but also for the customer experience and the way your business operates. When you set the stage for high-quality experiences that produce happy employees as well as customers, you’re more likely to keep customers on board so that they continue doing business with you. 

Like any business need, you should always approach user retention with measurable, achievable goals so that you can work on eliminating bounce rates over time. 

Establish a Strategy for User Retention

With goals and expectations in hand, it’s just a matter of creating a strategy that will assist you in keeping customers on your website and making them ready to purchase. Think about your most important priorities moving forward. Are you creating a dynamic, interactive website? Are you cleaning up dead links and editing repetitive content? Are you developing a better checkout experience that reduces your overall bounce rates?

A good strategy considers all the main web design best practices that seem to retain users for other businesses, all of the elements that are currently holding your business back from better user retention rates, and any additional elements that users may be looking for in your business specifically. A strong strategy will make it easy to execute your plan so that you can reap the rewards of all your hard work faster. 

How To Design With User Retention in Mind

Now that we have a better overview of what you should be focusing on outstanding web design, it’s important to turn to some of the guidance that will make it possible to foster greater user retention on your website. How do you design stunning, functional websites that encourage users to stay on the site itself and with your business? Here are a few tips to make the design process easier. 

Create a User Experience That Tackles the Common Issues Users Experience

Many websites have bounce rates of anywhere from 25% to 70%. This helpful statistic tells you whether or not something needs to change with your site. The higher the bounce rate, the more it indicates that users are encountering something that’s encouraging them to leave and look for support elsewhere. Check some of the issues users might be experiencing when they’re browsing your website.

Is your website accessible on mobile and desktop so that users can access it no matter where they are? Is it easy to navigate (drop-down menus, logical layout, etc.)? Is it visually appealing without being burdensome? Are there dead links on your website that are driving users away? What about your checkout experience? Do you make it easy for users to check out and provide them with all the features they need to seamlessly get the products and services they want? 

User retention relies on having a website that’s easy to use. Set aside some time or outsource your needs to conduct a full inspection of your site. This will help you identify any problem areas that are driving customers away. 

Act on Users’ Emotions 

Good UX/UI design can be broken down into five stages of behavioral-based approaches: triggers (sparks a need or spurs action as a result of emotions like fear, curiosity, and more), motivations (building off of and explaining the trigger, incentivizing them to move onto action), actions (encouraging and motivating them to try your product or service out for themselves), rewards (what rewards do they receive from it, and why would it encourage them to come back?), and investments (why would they continue investing in your product? What do they have to gain?). 

Current web design best practices shouldn’t be your sole focus when you’re crafting the ideal user experience. If you want to make sure that you’re appealing to users the moment they enter your website and they work their way through the sales funnel, you have to follow this process. Revisit your website acting as if you were a customer to see whether or not this would follow the above stages. If you don’t feel as though your design meets these requirements, go back to the drawing board, make the necessary changes for greater user retention, and work through the stages again!

Create a Design That Speaks to Them

If there were a one-size-fits-all approach to web design that ensured all users stayed on the website once they entered, every website would look the same. But this isn’t the case. Every business is different. The audience they are targeting will determine what their website looks like and how their website speaks to their target audience. If you’ve already conducted deep audience research, use what you’ve discovered to tailor your design to their needs. 

No one wants to feel as if they’re just using another product that’s trying to target everyone. How does it support them? How can you incorporate this into your design elements? What language, colors, and imagery do you need to use to pique their interest? You want users to feel at home when they navigate their way to your website. All of this plays into user retention!

Make Your Design Engaging and Visually Stunning

a visually appealing Homepage for a therapy website

If you use the internet regularly, you know the difference between a great website and one you’d rather click away from in search of something better. On the lowest end of the spectrum, you have websites that still look like they’re stuck in the early 2000s and never adopted today’s web design best practices. Some websites simply lack that little something special to keep you glued to the pages, and some just need a bit more support to see their vision through. 

Take some time to conduct research to see what modern websites with excellent user retention do to keep users on their website. Do they have interactive images that move or transition along with the user? Do they play on emotions and excitement? What do the different components of their website look like? How might this apply to your own? Strong visuals can mean the difference between exciting your customers and encouraging them to look for another company that offers a better experience. 

User Retention Is What Leads to Loyal Customers (and Design Is the Key)

UX/UI plays a crucial role in design and user retention. Your website is the first thing that customers encounter when they want to engage with your business. If the experience is underwhelming or riddled with issues that make it difficult to stay on the website, you’re going to drive away users (potentially to competitors). 

Fortunately, making sure that users stay on your website and convert begins with knowing exactly what to do to provide a superior user experience. If you’ve noticed that you’re not keeping as many users as you want or you simply wish to make sure that you make as few mistakes as possible the first time around, all you have to do is start here! The guide above provides you with greater insight into why user retention is important, what you need to do to retain users, and all the web design best practices needed to create a stellar website. 

Use this information to create a website worth staying on or reach out to the best web design services companies to get the job done for you!