A website is user friendly when it combines web accessibility and discoverability with smart and eye-pleasing design.
A user friendly website is “discoverable” on the web, easy to use and navigate, and provides useful and interesting information to the visitor. You can build the most amazing website; however, if your site has no traffic then it doesn’t really matter how great your site is since no one find it. Therefore, being accessible to your potential visitor is the first step in making a website user friendly.
Once the user has arrived to the website, there are a number of considerations to ensure that the experience is a positive one and that the user will return. The accessibility of content and the content quality are important factors to consider in your design.
Site navigation must be logical and clearly presented. This will prevent your visitor from getting lost and frustrated, and then leaving the site. Including a site map and bread crumbs will ensure that a user always knows where he is and can find what he is looking for. The design and navigation should be consistent throughout the website. Additionally, each page should be able to access the homepage by no more than two clicks. Many users enjoy the functionality of a search bar to help optimize their website visit.
It’s important to only provide information of value and interest. Users will return again and again to a site that is interesting, useful, or helpful. Spammy or obviously fake website content can ruin your reputation on the web. Use only original copy, do not plagiarize, and update your content with enough frequency to keep things fresh. Make sure the information you provide is easy to read and everything is spell checked. Any web page with spelling and grammatical errors is annoying to most and a “red flag” to many. Additionally, you will want to limit the amount of advertising on the site. Too much advertising can annoy the visitor and can affect your credibility, so choose your advertisers carefully. Once your site has a wealth of visitors, advertisers will probably be knocking your door down; be choosy.
If your website is heavy and slow to load, or does not display pages and information properly, your site is not user friendly. People will not wait for your pages to load; time is a valuable commodity. If faced with a slow or cumbersome website, most potential customers or new visitors will simply leave. You should gauge your own website. Visit outside of the administration and also use the browsers currently in use. Don’t just limit yourself to Explorer or Mozilla. Web pages can appear differently from browser to browser and you want to make sure that everyone can view your site the way you want it to be seen… quickly.
To ensure that visitors can actually enjoy your entire website, check that all pages are live and that all links work. You do not want someone to get all the way through filling out a form only to find out that the submit link is broken, or that your shopping cart is down. This should be done at least once a day. Most website hosting entities will perform these checks; they say they do anyway, but it is best to go through your site regularly and check all the links and make sure things are working properly. You can lose potentially great repeat business or turn away new business with just one broken link.
Important website pages, such as the homepage, should include clear calls to action, or a clear indication of where the users should go next. Being able to convert your leads into sales and move them down the sales pipe should be an important function of the website. Include this information above the fold with an offer that is easy to read and understand. If you have an “informational” website, then encourage your advertisers to do the same. After all, you didn’t decide to create a website just for the fun of it, right? You want to make money.
Finally, test your website. Have every friend, family member or acquaintance visit. Ask them for suggestions; ask them for their honest opinion. Discount those who you know may be jealous of your accomplishments, but listen carefully and thank them for their feedback and do not take it personally. Your reaction will determine if they will be willing to provide feedback in the future and they can be a most valuable resource for inspiration and new ideas. And if you want help… just contact the Raleigh web design specialists at TheeDesign. Just fill out our inquiry form or give us a call at 919-341-8901 to get started.