AS MANY BUSINESS owners have discovered, just having a website is no guarantee of success. Nowadays if you want your target audience to try your products or services, your website design needs to be easy to use.
If your website is too complicated to navigate, if the content is too difficult to understand, or the design is confusing, or it takes too long to load, people will leave without taking any of the actions you want them to take. That means they won’t sign up to join your email list, call your office, or order your products and you will lose business.
All the time and money you’ve invested in getting them to your website in the first place will be wasted.
Research conducted by HubSpot reveals that when people were asked about the key factor in a website, over 75% of them said they ranked ‘ease of finding the information’ at the top.
Usability experts recommend a website be useful, memorable, effective, efficient, desirable and delightful.
When visitors look at any page on your website, it should be self-evident, obvious and self-explanatory. They should be able to understand what it’s about and how to use the page without effort or thought.
You can make your website user-friendly by following web design conventions because that’s what most visitors are accustomed to seeing on websites. For example, use the same names for pages that other websites do such as Home, About Us, FAQs, Testimonials, etc.
Every web page should have a clear visual hierarchy. The appearance of the things on the page (the visual cues such as heading sizes) should make it immediately obvious which things are most important, which things are similar and which things are part of other things.
According to web usability expert Steve Krug, pages with a clear visual hierarchy have three traits:
- The more important something is, the more prominent it is. So, the most essential elements are either larger, bolder, higher up the page or have a distinctive colour.
- Things that are related logically are related visually. You can show that certain things are similar by grouping them under a heading, displaying them in the same visual style or placing them in a clearly defined area.
- Things are ‘nested’ visually to show what’s part of what. For instance, a site section ‘Women’s Clothing’ would appear above categories of women’s clothing (evening wear, dress, tops, etc.).
Break pages up into clearly defined areas. Dividing the page into clearly defined areas to allow users to decide quickly which areas of the page to focus on and which areas they can safely ignore.
Another way you can make your website user-friendly is to make it clear what is clickable (or tappable for touch screens).
Your visitors will be looking for visual clues that show what things are clickable or tappable, including:
- Shape (buttons, tabs, etc.)
- Location (in a menu bar, for instance)
- Formatting (colour and underlining).
You should also get rid of distractions on every page of your website.
To fix the problem, begin with the assumption that everything on the page is distracting and then get rid of anything that’s not contributing to the purpose of the page.
Optimise your website for mobile users
Your website should be optimised for mobile users for several reasons:
- Mobile users tend to act far more often and more quickly than regular internet users do.
- More than half of consumers want to make a purchase within one hour of conducting research on their smartphone, according to Google/Nielsen.
- Local marketing service Localvox says 87% of people who search for a local business call or go to that business’s location within 24 hours.
- 80% of smartphone users use mobile phones for shopping research.
- And 93% of people who use mobile to research go on to complete a purchase (most happen in physical stores), according to Google/Nielsen.
- More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers.
- Research has shown that 61% of mobile visitors who go through a bad mobile browsing experience simply move on to a competitor’s website.
You’ll lose visibility on Google if your website isn’t mobile-friendly. You’ll also lose many potential customers. The pages should be clean, simple, and very easy to navigate. The speed of loading is critical to a mobile user so don’t use too many images on your pages.
Get rid of anything that isn’t directly related to what users want or need. You should cut content down to reduce the word count and defer secondary information to secondary pages.
Where users have to type in information, make sure they’ve got enough space to do it easily.
If you offer a separate mobile website, make sure to offer a clear link to the full website (and call it ‘desktop’ rather ‘full site’ to make it completely clear what you mean).