Vital elements of a user friendly website
A user-friendly website is often the difference between your users staying or leaving. If a website is too difficult to navigate or understand, the user will either give up and leave or find the information they are looking for elsewhere. The art of creating a user-friendly website is called ‘User Experience’ or UX for short. The beginning of this practice usually starts with a process called wire framing, which is visual guide that assists with layout and information hierarchy.
It is also important to understand the customer. Creating multiple personas is a great way to do this; you must imagine that you know nothing about the content and even less about technology and the web. “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug is an extremely informative book when it comes to usability and the thought process of a user when using a website, it is well worth a read if you are designing a user friendly website.
Keep It Simple
One of the most important things about designing a user friendly website is making it simple and easy to read and navigate. Information Hierarchy is important and navigation must be obvious and easy to follow. Keeping the navigation to the top or the left of the page is usually a good start. Research shows that over 75% of users value ease of information as the most important factor of a website. One way to do this would be to keep the content clear and informative. Also having highlighted navigation or linked headings help the customer understand where they are and keep them from feeling lost and confused.
Function VS Usability
Functionality at the expense of usability will always have a negative effect on user experience and returning users. One of the best examples of this case would be Apple products vs. Microsoft or PC products. Generally your basic PC products have better value for their specifications and more functionality than their Apple counterparts. But Apple are constantly on top in sales and profits, this is mainly due to one thing, usability. Apple products are very simple and work extremely well for what they are made for. Another example is content management systems (CMS) Joomla and WordPress. Whilst Joomla enables a whole lot more functionality, the ease and simplicity of WordPress keeps them at a steady 60% of market share over Joomla’s 9%.
Having multiple platform-enabled websites is essential for reaching users today, which makes usability on these platforms or devices even more important. Now days most people search the web on the run using their mobile or portable device, so you need your website to be compatible for these lower resolution devices. One of the best ways to do this is to design ‘flexible’ or ‘fluid’. This generally means not having a set value in your design, but rather designing in percentages so your design will adjust to the size of any screen and setting maximum and minimum widths and heights to avoid distortion. This will also assist in stopping buttons from becoming too small to click, or text too small to read.
Other notable elements
Connection and loading times
If the loading time of a website exceeds 6 seconds, there is a good chance the user will become frustrated and give up. One way to improve the loading time of your website is to cut down on large plug-ins and widgets that use website tracking. Having clean code will also help increase loading times. If you have exhausted all these means you might want to look at finding a local server with better speeds to host your website from.
Consistency among browsers
This somewhat falls under responsive web, but sometimes gets overlooked. Different browsers can sometimes read code differently, and what works in one may not work in another. Always be sure to check your site in all browsers to ensure it works correctly for all your users.
Having usable and clear forms allow the users to successfully interact with your site. They are also very useful in generating leads for business, especially contact forms. You will want these to be clear and easy to use.
The idea of a user friendly website is to provide a seamless experience for visitors and to improve the chances of returning users. User experience is definitely a factor that sets a professionally designed website from the rest.
If you would like to know more about how to make your online presence a positive and effective for your potential customers, contact us today. theroom can assist you with some great ideas and also conduct an analysis of your current website presence and how we can boost your online rankings. Be sure to check out nifty websites we have done HERE