Even if you have a great looking website, what really matters is how easy it is for your visitors to navigate and connect with your content, and how user-friendly your website is. Creating a complicated website with bad navigation and usability can lead to frustrated users and a high bounce rate.
A website’s usability is the key to whether visitors will stay and connect with your content. However, if it takes them forever to find information or complete an action, a contact form or phone call, they are unlikely to. You need all the significant parts of your site to be highlighted and easy to find and use. To avoid these issues here is some guidance on how to improve its user experience.
Consider the website layout
By keeping your website’s layout simple you make it more user friendly. For example, use white space to keep the page clean and organised as this helps the eye to focus on text and titles and creates a sense of openness. It is also important to include social media icons on the site so that users can easily share content but make sure that these are linked to the relevant pages and open in a new browser window so that the user is not taken away from the main site.
When designing your layout, think about your target audience, those who are most likely to have interest in your products and/or services and then design your content to meet their needs. For example, if your target audience prefers larger images, then apply this to your website design. You should also place calls to action such as contact, about, and FAQ links prominently so that they are easily found.
Make sure that your menus are easy to find and navigate as this will help users find what they are looking for quickly and contribute to the site navigation and SEO. Choose a menu design that best reflects your structure and matches the look of your website.
Optimise the design
The main focus of websites is the user experience (UX). Whether they are looking for information about your services or want to take a specific action, fill out a form, make a call, get a discount code etc, they should be able to take those steps easily within your site’s design and navigation.
Websites that are easy to navigate and read have better chances of retaining users and making them stay for longer. Create headings, small paragraphs, and lists to help users scan a page and using plenty of white space to make the page easier to view will provide a better reading experience.
Website load time
Another important aspect of a user-friendly website is a quick load time for each page. Internet users have a short attention span and will leave a page that takes too long to load. So to keep your website up to speed avoid using too many high resolution images and videos on your pages.
Also, make sure your website is responsive. By this we mean it can be viewed in the same proportions on multiple platforms and loads quickly on PC, Mac, laptop and mobile devices. Also worth mentioning, websites that load slowly may not rank well in the search engines, so make sure you test the site regularly for issues with its coding, speed up page load times as much as possible and have this as the main consideration when adding additional content.
Optimise for search engines and the social media
In today’s competitive environment, it’s not enough to build a well-designed website that’s easy to use. It needs to generate traffic/visitors, otherwise, all that effort in design, user experience and content development will be wasted. There are many rules and guidelines for effective search engine optimization (SEO), so here are a few to get you started:
- Use page titles and Meta tags on every page and alt tags on every image. Remember, Google only recognises text not images so if your images don’t have alt tags then Google won’t acknowledge them as part of the content.
- Optimise content on your site to align with words your target audience search for.
- Use keywords correctly in content and links.
- Use Cascading Style Sheets for layout and keep your HTML code clutter-free.
Content is king
The way in which information is presented on a website is incredibly important to its user-friendliness. A cluttered site with overlapping information and confusing links can be hard to read, let alone navigate through. A website that uses a clear and recognisable format for its pages is more user-friendly, as are those that use headings, small paragraphs, and lists to break up large amounts of text. This formatting also applies to navigation links, which should look clickable and be clearly labelled as such.
Site visitors and Google are both looking for the same thing and that is interesting and relevant website content. Well written copy needs to get a reader’s attention, generate interest, and demonstrate how the product or service works, prompting them to take action, via a click or telephone call.
A user-friendly website should have social media icons to allow visitors to easily share content. This is a great way to get increase visits to the website and improve its ranking within Google. It’s also important to have a visible contact page with a phone number or email address to contact the company so visitors can easily reach out to the company and have their queries answered.
And lastly, make sure that your calls-to-action are actionable, meaning that they help people achieve what brought them to your site in the first place. For example, if your website asks for a donation, you need to clarify that they will save lives by donating, not just that you are asking for money. It’s also important that your forms follow best practices such as readable text size and doesn’t require more fields than you need.
In Summary – a user-friendly website should:
- Be easy to read, with a clear layout and navigation.
- Have a fast load time and be responsive on tabletop, laptop and mobile devices.
- Social icons should make it easy for visitors to share your content or contact you via phone or email.
- A clearly visible call-to-action, which can be as simple as an obvious “contact us now” button or a form requiring detailed information to receive an estimate or other service.
- Important notifications such as validation, progress bars, pop up windows and address-finding tools are easily seen.
If you need help or advice on your website design and development then call us on 01306 621001 and we’ll be delighted to help.