What Makes a Website User-Friendly?
They say content is King, and if that’s the case, then usability is Queen. To prove it, you only have to think of your own experiences online. Have you ever left a website because you weren’t able to find what you were looking for, and you got frustrated?
A website can have a very aesthetically appealing design and well-written content, but that doesn’t mean that visitors can easily understand its purpose or find the information they’re most interested in. The first step in convincing them to stay on your platform and therefore help you achieve your goals is to make your website as user-friendly as possible.
There are a lot of factors that go into website usability, and most people believe that they involve a lot of difficult to understand technicalities. We’re here to tell you that that’s not true, and to help you understand what it means, why it matters and how to achieve it.
What Is Usability?
Usability refers to the art of enhancing user experience by making your website simple, easy to navigate, and user-friendly. To gain insight into what works and what doesn’t, you’ll need to understand your customer’s online behavior, but the most basic rule is that if you make your platform effortless to navigate, they will stay, if it gets too difficult they will leave.
You can use taglines, concise content and strategic visuals to make your website more intuitive, and it’s best to stay away from confusing features and functionality. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when looking at your website:
- Does it flow logically?
- Are your links and buttons obviously clickable?
- Is it clear where you can find what information?
Why Does Usability Matter?
According to a survey done by HubSpot, 75% of their respondents stated that they consider ease of finding information the most important factor when evaluating a website.
When you create a website in a way that can’t be navigated intuitively, with difficult to understand content and cumbersome features, you’re failing to achieve what you set out to do, and you’re losing business.
How Do You Design a User-Friendly Website?
Proper planning and testing are crucial. Most companies that offer web design services make the detection and correction of potential usability issues an important step in their project flow. This is called wireframing or prototyping. A website wireframe (also called page schematic or screen blueprint) is basically a visual guide that shows the skeletal framework of the website – what interface elements will be where.
The wireframe doesn’t have any design elements or colors. It focuses exclusively on structure, flow, and functionality.
Government and non-profit websites follow accessibility guidelines. This means they focus on a design that can be used by visitors with varying levels of ability. Many web design experts agree that their simple and easy to use design is a good source of inspiration for any type of website.
Consistent and Easy to Scan Look
As we already mentioned, internet users don’t like to spend a lot of time looking for information hidden on a website. Besides being easy to find, a user-friendly website provides information that’s straightforward and easy to comprehend.
You’ll want to use headings and lists to break things up and write the content in small paragraphs. The most important information should be on top of the page, and you can go into more detail towards the bottom. Allow for plenty of white space. A clean design is more relaxing for the eyes.
The Website Should Be Mobile-Friendly
Most internet users and especially younger generations, use their smartphones to look for information online, so you want to make sure that potential customers can navigate through your website regardless of what device they’re on.
Google also takes this into account when ranking your website, so this feature is no longer just a nice extra, but a necessity.
According to a study by Google, if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 53% of visits are abandoned. Google also considers loading speed as an important factor when ranking your website, but in all honesty, slow websites just don’t cut it nowadays.
Websites that load in under 3 seconds have 70% longer sessions and 25% better ad viewing rates.
Even the savviest website users will sometimes have trouble finding the information they’re looking for, or they’re simply in a hurry, so they’ll expect your site to provide search functionality. This is a basic design feature you shouldn’t neglect because there’s a very high chance that visitors will move on to another site that has it.
Links Should Be Easy to Recognize
Anything clickable on your websites needs to also look clickable. Visitors should likewise know where that link is taking them. You can make your website more user-friendly through links that help visitors move easily through your content.
For example, rather than writing a block of text with all the details you need, you can use descriptive clickable anchor texts that take visitors to a more in-depth explanation of a concept. These anchor texts should be in a different color or underlined, so their purpose is obvious.
Since it’s your website, you’ll tend to think that it’s clear what actions you want visitors to take in various sections of the page, but that’s because you’re familiar with it, and it creates a bias. People will often get confused about what they’re expected to do, so using a clear call-to-action will better serve your interests.
A few good examples are:
- “Contact Us”
- “Learn More About X”
- “Download Now “
- “Click Here to Order”
When designing your website and even in later stages, feedback from multiple users will be invaluable. If hiring a company to manage usability testing and focus groups doesn’t fit into your budget, you can get this sort of service on online platforms or ask your customers for a quick review of their website experience.
You can then use this feedback to identify what features are causing usability issues and decide what adjustments you need to implement to make your website more user-friendly.