Why SEO Is So Important for SMBsMay 26, 2015
Nine Web Design Fundamentals for MarketersJune 19, 2015
Business websites need to be more than just pretty; they need to be user-friendly. But it’s not easy to create and maintain a website that’s easy to use and meets the needs and expectations of your target audience. The best websites use a combination of design, content, navigation and functionality.
As an experienced website designer and marketer, I’m used to creating aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly websites that meet the needs of my clients’ target audience. Here, I’ll look at what usability means and why it’s important, and then highlight ways to ensure your website users have a productive and enjoyable experience on your site.
What is “Usability”?
Usability is about making sure your website is as user-friendly as possible. Put simply, it means everything on your site must be easy to find, read, and use. But a user-friendly site involves more than just readable text and clear navigation buttons (although they are a crucial element). For the optimum user experience, you need to focus on the details and design it with your target audience in mind.
Why is Usability Important?
Today’s web users no longer tolerate websites that don’t meet their expectations. Websites must be easy to navigate, load quickly, and look professional. If you fall short, users are likely to look elsewhere, which will ultimately impact your sales. But if you invest in a design that fulfills the needs and motivations of your target audience, you’ll keep visitors on your site for longer and convert more people into loyal customers.
How to Make Your Website More User-Friendly
There are numerous things you can do to improve your website’s usability, but I’ll focus on some key issues surrounding design, content, navigation, and functionality.
When a visitor lands on one of your website’s pages they scan the page quickly, so it’s crucial they understand its purpose within a few seconds. Here are some tips to improve the overall design of your website:
- Use strong calls-to-action that are relevant to the surrounding content, using large colored buttons that contrast clearly with the background
- Use consistent colors and fonts across your site, and place navigational links and buttons in similar positions
- Use sans serif fonts such as Helvetica and Arial as they are easier to read on computer screens, and make sure there is a high color contrast between text and background
- Use a minimum font size of 14 pixels for main content
- Use visuals (photos and graphics) to clarify the meaning and context of content
- Use instructive icons and text to clarify the meaning of calls-to-action (for example, a “Contact Us” link could have a picture of an envelope and the words “Email Us”
Original, clear, and useful content is one of the best ways to reduce bounce rates. Here are some tips to improve your content:
- Write clear and descriptive page titles and subheadings. Can you tell what each page is about within a few seconds?
- To help users scan a page, use subheadings, shorter paragraphs, bullets, and lists to help break up the text. Using more white space around content also helps scanning and it looks more professional
- Show your most important content above the fold (before users have to scroll down)
- Use descriptive anchor texts for internal and external links, with keywords that are relevant to the page topic
User-friendly websites help people find what they’re looking for without difficulty. Here are some tips to improve the navigation of your website:
- Limit the number of menu items to as few as possible
- Link your main business logo to the home page
- To avoid confusion, use familiar words like “Home,” “About,” and “Contact Us”
- Place your navigation at the top or left-hand side of each page, and make sure it’s all above the fold when viewed on any device
- Include a sitemap to help users find specific pages
- Include a search box to help users find the information they’re looking for
When people land on your website, you need to make sure they don’t hit any roadblocks. Here are a few functionality tips:
- Perform regular checks to make sure links, buttons, and page URLs work
- Check your site’s speed. Google has a host of resources in its PageSpeed Tools section to improve page load times
- Remember mobile users. In some countries, there are now more mobile online searches than desktop searches. What’s more, Google now downgrades sites that are not mobile-friendly
- Avoid uploading large images that slow down your site. Compress larger images beforehand
The Bottom Line
The usability of your website can impact your credibility and your bottom line, so it’s important to keep these suggestions in mind if you’re running a business website. Above all, keep it simple and intuitive. User-friendliness is not only important for people, but also for search engine optimization (SEO).
If you need help with building a great-looking website that is user-friendly and SEO-friendly, contact me at StevenMilanese.com and we can talk through your options.