Whether you already own and operate your own website or you plan to create one for the first time, you need to prioritize the site’s usability above all else. A poorly-designed website that doesn’t center the user experience can damage your brand. Even if you save money on getting the site up and running by cutting corners on quality, such a decision can ultimately cause more harm than good.
Fortunately, there are well-established best practices in place to encourage your site visitors to stick around rather than bounce away to your competitors. Incorporating these into your website design keeps them clicking around for longer.
- First impressions matter. A user-friendly website is a successful website, one that visitors will continue to patronize. Businesses who don’t keep up with shifts in usability standards risk losing customers and clients.
- Disability accessibility forms one of the core components of user friendliness, as it makes your website easy to browse for millions of people who may not otherwise be able to do so.
- Most web developer tools and website builders have user-friendly features built right into them. However, you’re still going to have to routinely check your site to ensure everything works as intended and your visitors have no complaints about their experience.
Why It’s Important To Ensure Your Website Is User-Friendly
In the early days of the internet, people were just happy with the novelty of accessing a website and finding information. The design aspect didn’t matter much, as sites back then were generally comprised of simple text boxes and images to account for slower loading times.
Today, however, users expect a positive, quick experience every time they visit a page. If your website loads slowly or proves confusing to navigate, then you run the risk of visitors getting frustrated and leaving.
Most of the time, this means they’ll land on a competitor’s page, resulting in lost customers and revenue. Taking the time to ensure your site is easily usable for everyone who comes by is well worth the effort.
How To Ensure Your Site Is User-Friendly
- Optimize your site for mobile devices
- Know and follow WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards
- Develop an interlinking strategy for your site
- Be consistent with you design style
- Create content that is easy to consume
- Follow smart ad standards
If you want to make sure that your website is user friendly, you need to examine the efficacy and structure of several specific elements. The following aspects of your site ensure good design and proper optimization for an overall satisfying user experience.
Optimize your site for mobile devices
Just about everyone today carries a smartphone at all times, so they can visit a website no matter where they happen to be. Because of this, your website needs to be crafted in such a way as to ensure it looks good whether someone is loading everything on a desktop computer at home or a smartphone while on the go.
The easiest way to make sure your site looks and operates properly regardless of the device being used is to take advantage of responsive web designs. Responsive design detects the type of device that’s accessing it and loads the page specifically for that type of screen.
The best website builder tools allow you to create a responsive website quickly and easily, without having to do any of the actual coding yourself.
Know and follow WCAG standards
A set of international standards known as WCAG were created to help web developers make sure that their sites meet the needs of the disabled community. An estimated 1.2 billion people in the world have some form of disability, so you want to do everything you can to meet their needs.
Some accessibility options include, but are not limited to, giving users the option to have the website read text out to them, larger fonts, or removing any flashing images. There are many ways to make your website easier for visitors with disabilities to use and enjoy.
Develop an interlinking strategy for your site
One of the most important things that you can do to create a positive user experience is to link to different pages on your own site in a way that’s helpful and makes sense.
For example, if you’re mentioning a topic that you have previously written an entire blog post about, make sure to link to it. Users should always be able to click over to the different parts of your site that they find most valuable or interesting at any given time.
In addition to creating a friendlier user experience, a good interlinking strategy is also great for SEO (search engine optimization).
Be consistent with your design style
Consistency is key when it comes to web design. You want to make sure that every page on your site follows the same basic layout and provides the same types of menus. If you create a unique page design for each section of your site, it causes your visitors plenty of confusion.
Website builder tools and content management systems like WordPress go a long way in ensuring you display a standard look and feel across your entire website.
Create content that is easy to consume
The content that you publish is one of the most important elements of your website. Whether it’s written text, images, videos, audio, or something similar, you need to make sure that every piece of media is simple for visitors to engage with. When creating content for your website, always keep the following elements in mind:
- Legible font: Make sure the fonts you choose are easy to read. Having you text large enough to see and positioned in such a way as to avoid any type of confusion is also helpful.
- Spelling and grammar: While you don’t necessarily have to attain absolute perfection on your site, you do want to make sure that your written content reads smoothly. Following standard spelling and grammar guidelines helps to ensure your visitors, particularly those who need screen readers for accessibility, are able to best understand what you’re trying to convey.
- Proper contrast: You don’t want to have the background of your site clash with the color of the text. Whether you opt for a simple, classic white background and black text or some other combination, make sure that it’s easy to read. Problematic color combinations can also alienate your colorblind visitors.
Follow smart ad standards
If you want to make money with your website by running ads, you need to be very careful that they aren’t negatively impacting the user experience. To start with, make sure that you aren’t putting too many ads on any given page.
You want your site’s content to be the main focus, with the ads present in case the user needs the offered product or service. While ads are always a bit of an annoyance to visitors, there are ways to run digital advertising campaigns without causing problems.
How Often Should You Check Your Site’s Usability?
Websites aren’t intended to be published once and never updated. Technology changes, and so do the trends of what your visitors want to see when they log on to a website. A site that was considered user friendly 10 years ago would come off as regrettably behind the times and inaccessible if loaded today.
In general, you should review the layout of your site about once per year to make sure you’re following all the latest accessibility and user-friendliness standards. It’s also a good idea to check regularly to see if everything on your website — such as links and media — works and looks as it should.
Frequently Asked Questions About User-Friendly Websites
What makes a website user unfriendly?
A website that doesn’t center the user experience often features one or more of the following issues:
- Broken links
- Difficult-to-read fonts
- Overcrowding of images or videos
- Poor spelling and grammar
- Text that isn’t readable against the background
- Hidden obscured, or otherwise difficult navigation
These are not the only potential problems exhibited by user-unfriendly websites, of course, but they’re some of the most common. If your users encounter any of these accessibility hurdles, it’s time to start making edits.
Can static websites be user friendly?
Static website design is the opposite of responsive website design. A static website will not adapt to the screens of whomever browses over to it. Even if you or your web designer take all the other hallmarks of accessibility into consideration, these sites still won’t provide the same degree of visitor satisfaction as their responsive counterparts because of this.
By this point, responsive websites are the standard when it comes to creating a user-friendly experience. If your visitors can’t load your pages as swiftly on their smartphones as they can on their browsers, then this could put your business at risk.
Are simple websites more user friendly?
Most people skim the websites they visit, especially their first time on a new page. Unless you run a blog or a media site where anyone who stops by knows to expect longer-form content, a streamlined layout and content strategy is going to be a big help. Learn how to say a lot with a little, and keep things simple but stylish to make your site easy to skim and even easier to remember.
Strong web design encourages even the fastest skimming eyes to flow in the directions you’d like to take them. Your visitors may be in a hurry, so they’re not going to want to hop from page to page, section to section and dig deep to find the information they need.