Is your website user friendly?
How you can improve your websites usability
I'm a freelance Web Designer and created this lens to help you improve your website so it can be more user friendly. The more user friendly, the longer people will stay on your website and the more likely they are to bookmark it and send to their friends.
The are several things you can do on your site to make it enjoyable and accessible for all. For a business this is crucial as it gives people a better opinion and appreciation of your product and/or service.
Is it inviting and comfortable? Are you considerate and leave everything they need like shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, hair dryer? Is it clean with fresh sheets, vacuumed carpets and a sparkling bathtub? Did you take the time to decorate with pretty artwork, fresh flowers and a pleasant colour scheme? Did you invest in a good mattress so they have a comfortable sleep? Are you thoughtful and leave a guide to restaurants in town, numbers for taxis and bus schedules? Do you always keep your guest bedroom nice expecting to have visitors?
Or is your guest bedroom dusty, dated, wallpaper peeling off the wall, bed piled high with papers books and other junk? Is the closet so crammed full of crap they can't hang their clothes? Does the mattress have busted springs sticking out? Does the bathroom have a broken toilet you never bothered to fix? Do you make excuses to your guests like you plan to fix it up but you've just been so busy? Is your guest room this way because you didn't expect any visitors and therefore didn't invest any time or money into fixing it up nice?
Your website also needs to be inviting and comfortable. It should look like you made an effort to ensure it's functional and aesthetically pleasing. That you are thoughtful of your customers and created a website with useful information and made it easy to find what they are looking for. Your websites should look like you expect a lot of visitors, are professional and proud of your business.
This is where users will decide whether to look further into your website or hit the back button. A visitor to your website should be able to know exactly what your business is and what they can find in your website just by your homepage. This should all be accomplished in a short, precise paragraph of text, a good header and meaningful images.
Avoid using "welcome to my site" it is meaningless. Sum up your website in that welcoming heading. For example; I designed a website for a company that delivers farm fresh blueberries to offices. So for their main heading it reads "farm to office blueberries in under 32 hours"
The homepage content should be freshened up on a regular basis, feature a service or product, let them know of an upcoming event or sale, give them a reason to keep coming back to your site to see what new things you have to offer.
Examples of great homepage design - Get inspired
Provided are links to a few website I feel have excellent homepage design. Not only do they look great, they are clear, uncluttered and sum up the site well.
Smart design and navigation. They allow users to click the video instead of auto playing it when you load the homepage.
Beautiful design and simple layout. This link provides a great example of using your headline to sum up your websites product or service.
- Illiana's Chihuahuas
Clean layout, cute design and simple navigation.
Simple layout, good design and easy to see what the site is about.
It's important for your navigation to be organized, easy to use and clearly labeled. Menu's usually go on the top of the page under your logo and header or on the left hand side. It doesn't have to be on the top or to the left however that is the place most users look to find the main menu. Regardless, your navigation needs to be consistent on every page.
If a main page has subpages, the first page users see should be treated like a homepage, brief, concise text that explains what is there and each subpage should be easy to see and click on.
It is a good idea to have a different colour for visited links so your users know where they have been. The title of each page should have the name of the page they are at, so if it is services at the top it should say services. If your site is very large with many subcategories then it is a good idea to let them know where they are for example: products>books>fiction>new releases.
Learn common mistakes made in websites so you can avoid them in your own.
Get to the point, remove the fluff
Resist the temptation to use hyped up marketing language or "marketese". It is meaningless and says nothing of real value about what you do. Make your content meaningful, concise, clear and to the point.
People scan websites quickly to find the information they are looking for so keep your paragraphs short (up to 5 lines). Use bulleted lists and subheadings to break up text. There is no need to go into lengthy descriptions, only include relevant content.
Use laymen's terms
Try to use laymen's terms when describing your product or service so anyone can understand. I recently visited a technology website for my father, he wanted me to explain what they do. I spent 20 minutes going through their site (it was only 5 pages) and I couldn't figure out what service their business provided even in their services page! They used a lot of "marketese", vague descriptions and industry terms only an expert in the field would understand.
When describing your product and services be specific and clear. Remember not everyone knows what you are talking about so use language everyone can understand.
Declutter your website
Each page should be clearly laid out and easy to read. Cramming as much information, images and ads as you can into your site will overwhelm and confuse people. Have a focus and stick to it. Although Google ads and other affiliate ads are a good way to earn extra money from your website, don't let them take away from your content by stuffing as many in as you can.
Don't make me think - Excellent book on how to make your site more user friendly.
Accessibility in your website means it accommodates those with disabilities whether it be visual, hearing or mobility. If you feel it's important for your site to be accessible then consult your Web Designer to make the necessary changes. If you manage your website yourself there are several online resources and books you can read to improve equal access to your site.
Some simple things you can do to make your site more accessible:
- Font size - Avoid using tiny text that is hard to read. Also use relative font sizes (such as %)instead of absolute (pixels). Relative font size allows the user to resize the text using their browser
- Consider those who are colour blind - avoid colour coding your navigation
- Use greater contrast between text and background colour - for example; avoid using light grey text on a darker grey background
- Subtitle videos for the hearing impaired
Contact and F.A.Q
Allow your customers to contact you, provide an email address or phone number that is easy to find on the site. Have you ever visited a site and had more questions but couldn't find an email or any way to contact them? It can cost you business if clients can't easily contact you at any point in your site.
Frequently asked questions are a great way to answer anything a client might need to know about your business. However do make it actual frequently asked questions!
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