User friendly web design is as the name suggests – friendly or easy for people to use, navigate, find information, and know where to go. Today’s users have high expectations when it comes to website design, functionality, and performance, as they should be. With so many new remarkable web design and development trends emerging almost daily, landing on a so-so website is just plain disappointing.
It’s no longer a suggestion that you invest in a user-friendly design to keep your viewers on your website and encourage them to return – it’s a requirement. We’ve gathered a list of ten proven tips for maximizing the user experience by building an intuitive and user-friendly website.
1. User-Friendly Web Design: Designing With The Viewer In Mind
There is a very big difference between what you want your visitors to see when they come to your site and what they want (and expect) to see when they come to your site. Of course, you have conversion rates and KPIs that need to be met to reach your goals. Meeting these goals will be much easier when you cater to your target audience and guide them through your site in a way that is intuitive to them.
Before you start any planning or design project, you should take the time to gather information so you can make educated decisions. You can do this by creating a Customer Journey Map, adding a heat mapping tool on your current site, and reviewing your Google Analytics. When you look at your site through the eyes of your users, you might be surprised when some areas “made sense at the time'' but are, at the end of the day, very confusing.
2. Regulatory Compliance Is The Law Of The Online Land
You definitely want your website to be user-friendly to the end user (your readers), but what about user friendly to all the rulemakers that are out there? What we mean by rulemakers is the regulations; the governance; the law of the online land! Be sure you can answer “yes” to the questions of:
- Are my cookie consents available right away?
- Is my SSL Certificate up to date and reflecting HTTPS?
- Is my content original and not directly copied from another site?
- Am I adhering to all of the privacy protection acts such as GDPR and CCPA?
- Am I compliant for accessibility according to the ADA?
- How about compliance for my specific industry? Have I posted all necessary disclosures and statements?
3. Build A Responsive Website With A Mobile-First Mentality
With 62% of all website traffic coming from mobile devices, having a responsive site is a no brainer. Google will often rank sites that perform well on mobile devices higher than those that do not, which is why we recommend taking a mobile-first approach when designing your site.
The mobile-first approach ensures that you identify the most important elements that your site can’t live without, and make that your mobile screen cornerstone to build around. This method also helps your developer build the site as efficiently as possible, as they will know how the pieces of content will need to stack on top of each other when viewed on a smaller screen as opposed to a desktop.
4. Keep Your Navigation And Layout Simple
Simplicity in web design and development is not a new concept. Today’s users want (and need) things to be as simple and intuitive as possible. However, this desire is often in competition with the urge to cram as much information as possible onto the screen as possible. This can lead to visitors feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to go next, so they move onto another site that is easier for them to digest.
So where do you start to provide a great user experience? When building out your site map, your goal should be to keep it as intuitive and simple as possible; avoid coming up with complex page names and multi-level navigations. Instead, we encourage you to name each page appropriately and clearly, and keep sub navigations to a minimum. Wireframes can help with this tremendously because they provide a clean layout with no fancy distractions. This helps you establish what the most important elements are before you start adding the graphics. Finally, when creating and evaluating designs, do not be afraid of white space which can help break up information and help visitors focus on the important information in front of them. Just don’t have too much white space which can sometimes make a site seem unfinished or unnecessarily long.
5. Prioritize Page Performance
Slow loading websites just don’t cut it today. If your website doesn’t load within 3 seconds, you’re going to lose visitors. Statistical data shows that an average of 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if a page took longer than 3 seconds to load. Sites loading within 3 seconds had approximately 70% longer sessions, 35% lower bounce rates, and 25% higher ad viewability than sites taking nearly four times longer at 12 seconds.
There are a variety of factors that can affect site speed and performance. It’s vital that you optimize your site for performance by putting a strategy in place during planning and continue to monitor and adjust accordingly on a consistent basis. Not sure how your site measures up to your competition?
6. Create A Great Experience With Self-Service Options
Sometimes, even the savviest of website users can’t find what they’re looking for, and they’ll be expecting your site to have a quick (and working) search functionality. (Bonus points if your search pulls up relevant FAQs!) If it doesn’t, ain’t nobody got time for that, they will likely leave and find a site that is easier to navigate. It’s a simple design feature that shouldn’t be neglected.
If your website has login functionality for users to manage their accounts through your customer experience portal, the navigation through their steps should be clear and conspicuous, and the ability to contact you in case they cannot self-service should be painless. Chatbots can help with this, and even chat services can help your self-service area go that extra mile to help your customers.
Sometimes visitors need to be encouraged or reminded of what your business wants them to do on a specific page. While it may seem clear to you what action is recommended on a particular page, there’s no reason to let your visitors wonder. By adding a clear call-to-action on every page, and in the most clickable areas, you’ll drive visitors to take the actions you want them to. A few examples of clear calls-to-action include:
- "Click Here to Order"
- "Download Now "
- "Contact Us"
- “Get a Quote”
- “Learn More About X”
- “Get your Free X”
7: Images Should Reflect Your Brand, Be Clear, And Load Quickly
Just like on company letterhead, people expect your logo to be in the top left corner of your website, so give them what they want. This allows users to identify your brand easily. Your logo should also be clickable and should direct users back to the home page from wherever they are on your site.
Today’s website visitors are reading less and expecting more photos, videos, and other visual components. At the same time, it’s important to create the right balance between text and images, and not to go overboard with stimulation. Use high-quality images that enhance the text, but don’t overcrowd your pages, and use real photos whenever possible.
Note: Image size is very important when it comes to your page loading speeds. Follow this guide to keep your images at as small of a file size as possible without compromising quality.
8: Quality Over Quantity
Both human readers and bots are looking for quality content. Written content, photos, videos, and guides should all relate to the subject at hand, and provide value. No one wants to read a bunch of fluff or gibberish. When you provide original content that tells a good story, quickly answers the questions your users are asking, and really proves you know what you’re talking about, you and your readers can benefit together.
Think about if you have ever looked up a recipe online. More often than not, the search results will direct you to recipe blogs that have a huge long story full of ads you have to scroll past before you even begin to get to the recipe. Whelp, this is the ultra-frustrating exception. Unless you have a recipe blog, please – never do this! Instead, provide your users a short intro, tell them what the current page is about on your site, answer common questions related to your industry specifics, and then provide additional information to back up your bottom line. Trust us. Your readers will thank you.
9: Make Content Easy to Digest & Share
Use language that is simple and concise and include headers, subheads, bullets, and other formatting techniques to make it easy for readers to skim your content. Also, avoid using industry jargon whenever possible. While it’s okay to use words that show you’re an expert in your field, it’s important to understand the knowledge level of your audience and to write first and foremost for them, but be sure to use plain language whenever possible. Write to answer questions and think of how you would verbally tell people about your business.
To get the most out of social media today, you must create content that is engaging, valuable, and easily shareable. In addition to including social icons on each page of your website, you may also want to explore social share plugins or modules which allow users to seamlessly share specific pieces of content on your site across their multiple social media platforms.
10: Don’t Forget to Test, Test Test!
Absolutely test! Most of us wouldn’t commit to buying a car without a test drive, and the same should be said for your website’s functionality. Before it goes live (the commitment– the moment of truth) we encourage you to test test test! Test EVERYTHING from your links to your forms to your secure connection. Open your site on ALL the devices. Sign into your customer portals, sign out, sign in again, and perform all of the functions you would expect your visitors to perform. Use Google’s suite of website tools to help audit all of your links and connections, and load times. Use any number of SEO tools to gather your readability scores, and make sure everything is up to snuff.
Ready to Build Your User-Friendly Website?
For best results, implement as many of the above tips as possible. And don’t forget to test the functionality of your site before it goes live. A broken site isn’t user-friendly, and it won’t help your site rank high in the search engines, either. You can check your site speed using Google’s Page Speed Insights, or have us perform a full site audit and pinpoint exactly what could use improvement. Heck, maybe it’s already perfect! Let’s find out on this handy website performance comparison report and go from there!