The way your website looks greatly impacts your user experience. These days, having the right content isn't enough - you also need to display it well. The difference between a sleek design with clear, easy-to-find info versus a hodge-podge of messy or irrelevant data is huge - and that's why we love Google and hate Yahoo.
While Google, Inc. and Yahoo, Inc. were roughly tied competitors at the end of the 1990s, Google has clearly surged ahead. From market share to revenue, Google is the obvious winner.
One of the biggest design flaws which impedes user experience and stops website conversion is when visitors can't figure out what action they're supposed to take on a site. In the case of Yahoo, look at their page below.
As a user, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to click first. Do I use the search bar? Maybe I'll look at the weather report - or should I focus on what's trending? It's unclear what Yahoo wants me to do and where I should begin.
Note that we've pictured the Yahoo Search page as a direct comparison to Google, but the design of Yahoo's homepage has many, if not more, of the same issues as seen below.
This website has a great deal of information, but it's also overwhelming. It's difficult for users to establish what the website's focus is and to find the information they're looking for.
In contrast, Google's homepage is clear, simple, and intuitive. The search bar only allows for one function, so users know what activity they need to perform. They are not bombarded with links, pictures, and ads that lead all over the place.
If visitors need to access a different page, the drop-down function allows them to locate their Google Drive, Mail, Calendar etc. in just one click. While Google and Yahoo provide many of the same services and have been competitors for over 20 years, their design and branding differences have drawn them apart.
Take a look at our eBook A Guide to the Design-Focused Software Cycle for a methodology that ensures the user experience is the priority.
In today's age, your users want access to information fast. They don't want to sift through the dregs above to figure out what's important and what's not. Google helps solve users' pain points by providing a quick and uncluttered way to search for information. In contrast, Yahoo has not adapted its site to meet the modern needs of their users.
Now more than ever, companies are making efforts to avoid Yahoo's fate. Across all industries, many have launched innovative website redesigns to give their websites a modern look and feel. Check out the example below:
While the first site isn't bad, it has a lot of information to digest. With various buttons and calls-to-action, it's unclear what the site wants visitors to do first. The newer site is clean, focused, and the user knows exactly what to do: apply today. The icons also help segment the information so that visitors can find exactly what they're looking for, based on who they are.
Unfortunately, many associations currently suffer from the Yahoo syndrome. They have a great deal of pertinent, relevant info that members and prospective members need to know, but the layout is confusing and poorly designed. Even your largest, most well-known associations struggle with this issue. Although they have the resources to design and develop a modern, attractive website, many still display a homepage littered with advertisements, unclear information, and irrelevant pictures and links.
Even as research shows that their members are more tech-savvy than ever, associations are often slow to innovate, since, for years, they worried whether they were moving faster with technology than their members could handle.
But, an update and improved website design can increase member satisfaction and facilitate your processes - such as your membership renewal procedure. With an optimized site, your users are better able to locate the information that they need with minimal hassle.
Google was able to become the top search engine in the world because it responded to what its users needed. Associations will need to adapt similarly to continue to engage their members and reach new audiences. There are plenty of examples of well-designed association websites to help you get started. Check out the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors or The Teacher's Guild.
Both sites focus on one central image or video, and they demonstrate clearly where the visitor should click next. By following their lead, you can ensure that your association follows Google's path of success and continues to provide a valuable service to your members.
For a look at our process that ensures the user experience and design get its due, download our eBook below.