Websites play a crucial role in attracting and retaining self-storage customers. But even though your website is aesthetically appealing, it may not get the results you expected. Why? Because an effective self-storage website has to focus on the needs of its users (i.e., customers).
That’s what user experience (UX) is all about – delivering value to the users of your website through a clear understanding of their needs and preferences. By incorporating UX design into your website, you can significantly improve your ability to meet customers’ expectations and generate business value from your website investment.
What is User Experience (UX)?
User experience is a principle that web designers and digital professionals rely on to guide the development of a website. When done well, UX increases customers’ satisfaction with the website by ensuring ease of use and enhancing customers’ interactions with your self-storage operation.
UX concepts focus on understanding users’ preferences as well as their abilities and limitations. For example, if your web design strategy doesn’t consider the navigational or display requirements of mobile users, the user experience suffers because it fails to address the limitations of customers accessing the site via smartphones.
Ultimately, a website design process that leverages UX concepts serves valuable and meaningful content to users in the most convenient and accessible way possible.
Peter Morville, a widely respected pioneer in information architecture, describes UX’s ability to deliver value with the User Experience Honeycomb – a visual representation of the qualities that improve the value of your website for users. The cells of the honeycomb include:
- Useful – The content on your website engages your customers by addressing their actual needs and answering their most important questions.
- Usable – Customers should find your website convenient and easy to use. They shouldn’t have to execute complex tasks to achieve simple outcomes.
- Desirable – Design elements (images, corporate identity, brand features, etc.) should be consistent and appeal to users’ emotions.
- Findable – It should be easy for users to find and navigate the content they are looking for when they visit your website.
- Accessible – People with disabilities (e.g., visual, cognitive, movement, social, etc.) must have the ability to access and interact with your website.
- Credible – In addition to understanding the content you present, users must be able to trust and believe the information you provide to them.
User experience (UX) design is not the same as user interface (UI) design. While UI design focuses primarily on the look and visual appearance of the site, UX design focuses on customers’ ability to use the site in a way that maximizes value and meaning.
Why UX Matters to Your Self-Storage Business
First-rate UX design isn’t a luxury for self-storage operators – it’s a necessity. Without a quality user experience, your website can’t meet the needs of customers and other site visitors.
In today’s self-storage marketplace, customer expectations are at an all-time high. If your website doesn’t quickly and conveniently provide the information they need, customers will simply navigate to the next provider on the Google search results page.
When we drill down into the rationale behind UX design, we discover several reasons why UX matters to your self-storage business:
- Customer satisfaction – UX design creates a better customer experience. It eliminates frustration, confusion, anger and other negative responses customers exhibit when a website doesn’t meet their expectations or satisfy their needs.
- Customer loyalty – Self-storage customers reward exceptional on-site experiences with repeat business. Offering your customers, a top-rate user experience reduces the likelihood they will jump ship to the competition.
- Higher return on investment (ROI) – Effective UX design improves ROI by increasing your website’s effectiveness. Higher conversion rates, improved loyalty, and other metrics impact your bottom line and ramp up the return you receive on website investments.
- Improved efficiency and productivity – Carefully crafted UX design enables users to accomplish on-site tasks faster and more efficiently, eliminating the errors that occur on poorly constructed sites. Improved efficiency means that your employees will spend less time troubleshooting problems and more time doing things that generate revenue or improve customer satisfaction.
- Positive customer sentiment – A visually appealing website is a good start. But you also need a high-quality user experience to impress prospects and existing tenants. In many cases, UX design can be leveraged to show prospects that your operation takes the customer experience seriously.
Tips and Best Practices in UX Design
With so much riding on the user experience, you need to invest time and resources to incorporate UX design principles into your self-storage website. Although it’s important to tailor your website’s user experience to your operation and the needs of the target audience(s), there are several best practices all self-storage operators should consider.
For starters, make sure your website prioritizes the needs and limitations of your customers. Too often, businesses fill their websites with content and resources that highlight the company’s industry credentials but fail to provide information and navigational elements that are valuable to users.
When it comes to navigation, design your website to streamline customers’ on-site actions. For example, if you allow customers to purchase storage units or pay online, make these sections of the site visible and reduce the number of steps it takes to complete transactions. Likewise, make your contact information (phone number, physical address, and email) clearly visible and supply a contact form to encourage prospects to connect with your business.
Finally, an exceptional UX design requires a level of sophistication and skill. Rather than tackling it on your own, consider partnering with a digital marketing firm that specializes in optimizing websites for self-storage customers. The money you invest will protect your ability to compete in today’s digital marketplace and deliver returns in the form of increased revenue, improved efficiency, and more satisfied customers.