Beyond function, your website visitors expect an exceptional user experience. Your site should be designed with users and their goals in mind. Otherwise they’ll leave your site within seconds, driving up your bounce rate and killing your SEO. Keep users happy with these five tips for a user-friendly website.
1. Make it mobile-friendly.
It’s a little sad that this still has to be addressed, but it does. Not only will a non-responsive website lower your rank in search engines, it’ll frustrate your users. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, stop reading and call a web developer now.
To ensure you’re providing a top-notch user experience, you need to personally check every page of your website on a mobile device. Make sure text and images appear in appropriate sizes and content hasn’t been lost or hidden. You may decide to reduce the length of wordy pages so your users don’t have to scroll for eternity.
2. Deliver digestible text.
Many studies on user experience have shown that people don’t read web content like they do a book. Long paragraphs of dense text stretching all the way across the screen—yikes!
Keeping your text digestible will improve the length of time users spend on each page. Use headings to break up text and point visitors to the info they seek. Appropriately tagged headings will also help your SEO as search engines use them to prioritize key words.
Make sure your column widths are set to improve readability. You can imagine how unpleasant it would be to read this blog if the words ran the full width of your screen instead of a user-friendly 600 pixels across. Choose web fonts that are easy to read, especially for your body text. And, of course, keep your web copy concise.
3. Speed up page loading.
Page speed is essential to positive user experience, but it’s not entirely in your control. High-speed internet isn’t available in all areas and speeds can vary by service provider and plan. That said, it’s even more important to do everything you can on your end to ensure the fastest possible page speed.
Make sure your images are optimized for web. A typical laptop screen is less than 1,500 pixels wide, so you don’t need your background images to be 4,000. Inset photos should be sized in relationship to the column width, probably 600 pixels wide or less.
Hosting also affects your page speed. Your hosting plan needs to provide enough bandwidth for the size of your site. If your target audience lives in an area with slower internet, plan ahead and design a site that is even faster and lighter.
4. Focus on easy navigation.
Users come to a website with a purpose. They want to answer a question, find information, or make a purchase. You need to make it easy for users to fulfill their goals on your site. What page should they visit next? What’s the most likely question on their minds? What do you want them to do next? Think through these questions to improve your user experience.
Don’t fall into the menu trap. Cramming dozens of page links into your main menu and submenus doesn’t make navigation more user-friendly. Use headings, buttons, and text links to truly guide visitors through the site. Keep in mind, users don’t always arrive at your home page first. Make sure they can find their way around no matter what page they landed on.
5. Declutter your layout.
Along with thoughtful navigation cues, provide your users with a clean, clutter-free layout. (Cleaner layout is the most common request from our clients when we redesign a website.)
To create a user-friendly website, be thoughtful about the arrangement of text and images. And before you add more content, ask yourself, will anyone actually read all this? Allow sufficient white space to let the eye rest. Be consistent with your headings and typographic hierarchy to help users skim effectively.
Many sites use pop-ups to collect email addresses, offer promotions, or activate a chat. Keep user experience in mind when incorporating these elements. People don’t like being interrupted, more like assaulted, by ads and newsletter sign-ups. Work with your web developer and copywriter to create eye-catching content that doesn’t interrupt a visitor’s engagement with the site.
Is your website user-friendly? Do you need to improve your user experience? Share your questions below.