These often-overlooked elements of your website or app offer promising returns with little effort.
#1: 404 page
“Sorry, the page you are looking for does not exist.”
Most 404 error pages are rather standard: They let visitors know they’ve clicked on a bad link.
(Some sites avoid the whole issue with a 301 redirect that leads users to the homepage, but that’s hardly a UX best practice.)
Learn how your visitors are getting to this page and, by all means, fix any bad links on your site that are entryways. Then craft a message that doesn’t make the user feel like she’s done something wrong.
GitHub does a good job of showing visitors that they’ve taken a wrong turn without using a reproachful tone. And the Stars Wars reference means they know their users.
The search bar below the image is an easy exit point that helps visitors find what they’re looking for.
Many companies unleash their creativity on their 404 pages. Think about your brand’s voice: Are you fun, irreverent? You might use your 404 page to delight or entertain your visitors.
Joel Klettke of Business Casual Copywriting makes his “dead page” an interactive Mad Libs-inspired story of the zombie apocalypse—because hitting a 404 page, after all, may indicate that the end is nigh.
- Avoid language that makes users feel like they’ve done something wrong.
- Include a call-to-action, whether it’s a search bar, link to the homepage, or even an offer.
- Get creative and engage with users, if it’s consistent with your brand.
#2: App updates
When you release a new version of your app, the Apple Store and Google Play prompt you to include a description of your updates. File under boring, right?
Not so. It’s actually a hidden gem waiting to be optimized.
Instead of including a laundry list of updates in developer-speak, use this as an opportunity to show your users how you improved the experience for them.
The update descriptions for Gmail and WordReference Dictionary read like a completed to-do list.
LinkedIn, though, takes a different tack: They write the description as if someone may actually be reading it. They speak directly to the app user to explain how this update is making their lives better:
We’re so excited to show you the new LinkedIn mobile experience!
We set out to make it easier than ever for you to connect with and learn from people who can accelerate your professional success. That required us to simplify and streamline the mobile experience…
- Think about benefits—how does this update help your user? Start there.
- Use a voice that’s consistent with your brand.
- Avoid words only a developer would understand.
#3: Meta descriptions
These short descriptions, part of a webpage’s HTML, appear under the page titles on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Tinkering with your meta descriptions probably won’t improve your search engine ranking, so forget about optimizing for search—optimize for clicks instead.
Here’s a side-by-side example of two sites that approach meta descriptions differently. These results come up on the first page of Google when I search “Brooks Pureflow 5 women’s.”
The first site takes up valuable real estate by essentially repeating the title of the page. It includes the price, some information unrelated to the shoe, then, finally, some shoe details.
(It should be noted that meta descriptions aren’t required in a webpage. In fact, it looks like this page doesn’t have one, so Google is pulling copy from the top of the page. Do you really want Googlebot acting as your content strategist?)
Champs Sports does it right. It speaks to the shopper on an emotional level (“happy”) and touts two very important qualities of the shoe (“lightweight and super comfortable”).
If Champs understands what shoppers are looking to do at this point, it could include copy that speaks to user intent—for example, “free shipping and returns” or “low price guarantee.”
- Use action-oriented copy here and keep it short (between 150-160 characters, according to Moz).
- You can’t A/B test meta descriptions, but consider running Google Ads with the same copy, and test those.
- Make each page’s meta description unique for SEO purposes.
Content improvements don’t have to come from a complete site overhaul. Small changes like these can yield dramatic improvements for conversions and UX.
What hidden optimization opportunities have you uncovered? Leave a comment below.
Brooks Bell helps top brands profit from A/B testing, through end-to-end testing, personalization, and optimization services. We work with clients to effectively leverage data, creating a better understanding of customer segments and leading to more relevant digital customer experiences while maximizing ROI for optimization programs. Find out more about our services.