Improving investor engagement through smart UX design

Be it responsive software for a smartwatch or an intuitive navigation menu for a mobile banking app, smart user experience (UX) design is the foundation of any great product. In fact, the strength of a product's user experience can be the difference between a product failing or succeeding. Because of this, companies spend countless hours — as well as hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars — on UX research and design.

Why then, do some public companies not apply the same level of care when it comes to the UX design of their website?

All too often, websites for public companies are marred by clunky navigation menus, jarring layouts, and unnecessary exposition. This can quickly lead to a frustrating user experience that deters investors from learning more about a company.

Not unlike the customer journey, the journey for a prospective investor should be laid out thoughtfully. Below, I'll explore some of the key principles that companies can follow to create a website user experience that maximizes investor engagement.

1. Design intuitive user flows

A user flow refers to the path a user takes to complete a certain task or objective. Although user flows depend on a company's industry as well as its stage of development, they typically center around education (i.e. management overview, company news, FAQs) or commerce (i.e. booking a reservation, buying a t-shirt).

Make sure your user flows are designed to require as little thought by the user as possible — if it takes longer than 5 seconds for the average user to complete a task, chances are you need to revamp your website's user flows.

2. Put users in the driver's seat

Sites with locked section scrolling or lengthy, artistic page transitions often make users feel like they have no control over their browsing actions. While these design techniques can result in interesting visual experiences, they can also be extremely frustrating — especially for sophisticated investors who view hundreds of corporate websites during any given month. Instead of choosing how fast users can browse your website, put users in the driving seat and let them dictate the pace.

3. Create rapid immersion

Whether it's an abstract 3D art piece or a 4k aerial tour of your facilities, make sure you set the tone for your website immediately. Going all-in on a particular aesthetic from the jump doesn't just communicate confidence — it invites users into your world, which if unique enough, can make your company and its investment opportunity difficult to forget.

4. Ditch the philosophy

Ready for the harsh truth? Here it is: nobody cares about your corporate philosophy or your mission statement. No one.

While mission statements and the like can serve as useful internal compasses for an organization's staff, they mean little if anything to the outside world. What's more, they're almost always unoriginal — and unoriginal is forgettable. Do yourself a favour and cut the philosophical mumbo jumbo. Not only will this free up valuable visual real estate on your website, but it will make your brand seem much more authentic.

5. Keep it simple

Minimalism isn't just a trend in user experience design, it's a necessity. By keeping text and visual stimuli on your website to a minimum, you give visitors the breathing room they need to feel comfortable. If you provide too much information on your homepage or make your navigation menu too complex, you run the risk of overwhelming your users.

Public companies should strive to make their website feel like the Tate Modern — not some basement cramped with trinkets.

UX design for public company websites has its challenges

At the end of the day, the goal of UX design is to eliminate friction between humans and digital interfaces. This can be a difficult task for public companies, given the sheer amount of information and public disclosure documents they're required to share on their websites. Still, this doesn't mean that public companies should resign themselves to a bloated, messy online presence. By incorporating smart UX design (and a little bit of creativity), public companies can bring order to the chaos — resulting in an engaging website user experience that encourages investors to take action.

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