Let’s say you’re searching for a topic on Google, then you click on one of the results. You’re so close to finding what you need — maybe it’s information for a project you’re researching or the perfect lamp for your new home. The website is immediately disappointing, though. The page isn’t loading quickly, the font is way too small to read on your phone’s screen, and you can’t seem to click any of the links. You don’t waste another second; you’re already checking out a competitor’s (much better-designed) website.
Today, savvy designers approach the various elements of website design in a way that maximizes the user experience. In order for a website to be appealing to users in a way that attracts and keeps them engaged, the aesthetics and functionality of the site have to be intuitive. Content is important, but even the greatest content can’t shine if the user can’t navigate to it. Here’s how to create a user-friendly website to impress your visitors.
Understand Where the Website Will Be Viewed
Website designers should consider the context in which users are most likely to interact with the site, then design specifically for that environment. Not everyone views a website from their desktop or laptop. You have to be prepared for people viewing your website on a mobile device, like a smartphone or a tablet. That means making sure the site is responsive for different-sized screens and ensuring the text isn’t too small to read on a small screen. You may also want to create an app for a more engaging experience on a smartphone.
Think About the User’s Natural Workflow
User-friendly design means creating a website that flows in a way that makes sense to the user. Also, the website has to respond appropriately when the user goes through that workflow. For example, if you go to a website and the top of the homepage promotes a certain product, the assumption is that the user will want to learn more about that product. There should be a button that links to the product, and that link must work. Otherwise, you’ve interrupted the workflow of the website, and an annoyed user will look for what they need elsewhere.
Similarly, you should keep the most important information above the fold, which means the portion of your page that will show when a visitor goes to your website. Assume that the visitor is never going to scroll down or explore the rest of your website. What do you need them to see first?
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What your website contains and what the user sees are two different things. You want your visitors to find certain pages. You likely have:
- Core pages published and linked on your main navigation bar.
- A blog with several articles published.
- Description pages for each of your products or services.
- A knowledge base so customers can find info and troubleshoot issues on their own.
These pages are all fine to make public. However, you may also have a number of landing pages that you use for marketing purposes. You link to them from your social media platforms, and they’re designed to get traffic to your website and convert a visitor into a subscriber or customer. Those pages shouldn’t be findable on your website. First, they likely reiterate some information you already have there. Second, they can be confusing for a user who stumbles upon them because they look and function differently than a regular page.
Consider Adding an Auto-Play Background Video
Some companies can’t get across pertinent information through text or images alone, especially not quickly. If your business is the kind that needs a video to explain what you do and why the customer benefits, consider adding a background video to your website. Make sure to follow video best practices, though. The video should:
- Be understandable without audio, even if you have an option to turn the audio on.
- Auto-play without audio — it can be jarring to unexpectedly hear audio.
- Not slow down the page-loading time.
Also, remember this: A low-quality video is worse than no video at all, so if you’re going to include one, make sure it looks professional.
Businesses that build a user-friendly website and keep it safe from data loss don’t just improve the customer experience, they also increase their bottom line. You wouldn’t create a product that customers hate, would you? Think of your website as one of the products you put out there. Treat it with the same care you give the items or services you sell to customers. After all, a well-designed website can most certainly lead to sales and returning customers.