By Juli Durante

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From the beginning, inbound marketing has been all about the visitor and less about the company. It follows, then, that user experience (UX) is key to inbound Web design. As marketers, we think about the user experience every day: "How will audiences engage with our social media posts?" "Is my landing page correctly structured to improve conversions?" "Does my website show a clear value proposition on the homepage?" And of course, "Who are my buyers?

So how do we define a great user experience with inbound marketing? Follow these nine keys to get started:

1. Know Your Buyer

The first key to creating a great user experience is knowing exactly who that user is and what they're looking for. To start, define your buyer personas. To get you started, we've created this guide with 75 questions to build your buyer personas. The essential elements you should thoroughly explore are:

  • Basic buyer demographics: Job title and seniority, education level, age, gender, marital status, geography, and other factors often contribute to behavior. 
  • Purchasing habits: Do these personas look for deals or equate higher price with higher quality? How much research do they go through before making a decision?
  • Daily pain: What keeps your buyer up at night? What do they wish were easier about their day? 
  • Goals: Ultimately, what is this persona trying to accomplish, at work and out of work?

2. Know Your Buyer's Journey

The Buyer's Journey is just as important as the buyer personas you create. Otherwise, how will you know what kind of content to create and what content has the highest value? When you have a solid handle on the Buyer's Journey–how each persona becomes aware of problems, considers solutions, and makes a purchasing decision–you can better plan your site. For example, you can choose the right place to use smart content. You can also decide whether the right call to action for a case study is a comparison guide or a demo request. 

3. Keep it Simple

Now we get to the nitty-gritty: Keep your site simple, thereby making it easy for users to find their way through it. Remember, if you're attracting visitors from online sources, you have to help those visitors to convert and become leads. Remember how Coco Chanel famously encouraged us to take one accessory off before we leave the house? Take the same approach for your website.

4. Have a Clear Order

When writing for print, journalists follow a very specific order. The most important and newsworthy information comes at the beginning of the post. As the word count progresses, the information becomes more detailed and less essential. 

When structuring your website, consider the same concept. When landing on site, on first blink, the user should have a good idea of what you do. A clear page structure with headings and subheadings helps you do this. Good structure also helps pull users through the site, thus improving key Web metrics such as number of pages per visit and conversion rate.

5. Be Consistent

With user experience, consistency goes beyond branding. Use a limited number of fonts and font styles. Similarly, limit your color palette and imagery. Make sure all links are styled the same way. Consistency in design helps your overall user experience because visitors can understand how to interact with the content.

6.  Make It Easy to Read

Too often, websites are just plan hard to read. Fonts are too small on mobile devices or too light on a desktop. Gray backgrounds have slightly darker gray copy on top. We create something that looks cool or clean or hip or minimal (or some other design buzzword) but make it so difficult for users that they run away. 

Because inbound depends on building trust and a relationship with leads, you can't risk turning them off without a second glance. 

7. Make Navigation Clear

Site navigation tells us a lot. It shows us how to interact with a website, and it can also tell us what a company does. 

8. Don't Be Too Repetitive

Though a site's goal may be to lead visitors to request a demo, exclusively featuring a demo call to action is not likely to be effective. Why? When visitors see the same thing over and over (and over), they start to tune it out. When maintaining consistency, include a variety of content. 

9. Remember that Something Needs to Stand Out

Easy, clean, and simple are good words when it comes to UX. But too simple and too clean means your website can be boring and the important stuff can blend right in. The things that stick out--contrasting colors, a square shape on a swirly background, bold copy in a paragraph--are what truly guide the user. 

How do you use user experience to execute your inbound strategy? Let us know by tweeting us at @smartbugmedia.

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Juli Durante

About the author

Juli Durante was formerly a team lead and marketing strategist for SmartBug Media. She has been using HubSpot and practicing inbound marketing since 2011, first as a one-woman inbound marketing team and then at SmartBug. A born and bred Jersey girl, she's a graduate of Rutgers University where she studied Anthropology, Art History, and Classics, making a very natural transition to digital marketing. Juli's education helped her learn more about research, analysis, and Jasper Johns, which she applies today when planning and measuring campaigns. She's particularly passionate about CRO and website optimization. Read more articles by Juli Durante.

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