Building a User-Friendly Website

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Considering Basic Usability Elements

Just because you build a website doesn’t mean it will attract visitors or customers. And if it does get gobs of traffic that still doesn’t mean your visitors will find it a very valuable experience.

We talk a LOT about SEO and traffic-getting when it comes to websites, but what is less emphasized and just as important is the usability aspects of your site. Basic usability includes the following elements:

  • Clean and lean design
  • Intuitive navigation patterns
  • Simple and straightforward copy and content
  • Consistency

 

Usable Website Design: Clean and Lean

Make sure when you set out to design and develop your site that you focus on keeping it simple. Fanciful designs and artsy effects may be cool to look at, but they don’t always make for a useful website. Leave this type of experience to the ultra-creatives-the artists and graphic designers-and, instead, stick to lean and clean designs. This extends to the code and style sheets that make up your site’s framework.

Think clutter-free when laying out the pages. Whitespace when used sparingly is a valuable tool. Try and jam too much on a page and you lose and confuse your visitor.

Intuitive Navigation Patterns

If your site has more than one page, you’ll have some form of site navigation. Common navigation that makes sense to users:

  • Breadcrumb navigation
  • Left or right sidebar navigation
  • Utility links at the top of the page
  • Footer links
  • Primary and secondary navigation near the page header

 

Users are accustomed to looking to these areas of your web pages for navigation-a way to logically move around your site. Tip: your site’s header should always be a clickable way for users to get back to your home page.

Keep Language Simple

Don’t expect visitors to read a thousand words of text unless there is an absolute need for this. Keep your content as brief as possible, scrubbing it of any fluff or unnecessary words. Users have less and less time to spend deciphering wordy pages.

Use text links carefully, making certain that it’s clear what type of content is available once they click the link. Links labeled “click here,” by the way, are not a valuable user experience. Make them match the destination and you automatically create a much more useful interaction.

Clever phraseology, nonsense language, and attempts to deceive customers will only backfire.

Test Website Usability

One of your best sources for feedback on your site’s usefulness is your visitors. Offer a feedback tool, a survey, or poll that enables them an opportunity to comment on the site. These comments will likely be the best way to find out what works and what you can improve.