What Does a “User-Friendly” Website Look Like?

November 18, 2016

Building a website takes skilled craftsmanship. Web developers spend years tapping into how markets operate and the way consumers absorb digital information. After all, a good website isn’t just about compelling written copy, slick professional images, high-tech graphics or striking design; ultimately, it comes down to how user-friendly the website it.

How can I tell if my website is user-friendly?

First things first – one of the best ways to test whether a website is user-friendly is to check out the bounce rate. In the digital sphere, the term ‘bounce rate’ essentially refers to the percentage of visitors who have opened your website and left without spending what Google deems to be an ‘adequate’ amount of time on it. A high bounce rate therefore means users are clicking on your website but then navigating away in search of something preferable. Not only is this obviously bad for business; it also places you in a poor position on Google as the search engine won’t view your website as valuable to users.

What are the common characteristics rendering a website user-friendly?

Without any further ado, let’s take a look at what typically renders a website satisfying for users:

Mobile compatibility. We already know how fast the mobile craze is surging, with recent reports stating mobile devices will drive 75% of all internet traffic next year, therefore it is paramount to user-satisfaction that you ensure your website has been optimised for mobile. To give you a hand, Google has created a handy mobile site tester so you can find out whether your website is mobile-friendly or not.

Logical information architecture. Organising the layout of your content takes learned skill. You need to effectively look at it from a user’s perspective, especially if you have loads of information to convey, and carefully plan your website sections and categories. Take it as a general rule of thumb to prioritise your information from left to right, up to down.

Scannable content. Speaking of information layout, users don’t want to wade through chunks of useless drivel. While maintaining a certain word length is critical for search engine optimisation, digital users are likely to only scan parts of a page rather than read the whole thing from top to bottom. Make sure you break up your content cleanly with relevant headings, sub-headings, bullet points or lists.

Fast load times. We’re talking between four to six seconds; anything slower than that and users are highly likely to ‘bounce’. Furthermore, slow load times will have a negative impact on your search ranking. While you certainly want to grab your audience’s attention, refrain from throwing too much stuff on each page – things like website plugins, widgets and oversized images are often sure-fire ways to slow down your website’s speed.

Effective navigation. Just as a brick-and-mortar store should be easy for customers to work their way around, website creators need to ensure digital users can traverse their site with ease. Simple HTML or JavaScript menus are the best way to ensure a smooth navigation experience for users, plus they are most likely to appear consistent on all browsers and platforms. Another hot tip is to ensure your navigation menu remains clutter-free. Limit your menu items as much as possible, and employ the use of drop-down menus to categorise your sections if you are working with a lot of information.

By ensuring your website is clean, easy-to-navigate, quick to download and ultimately appealing to users, you can seamlessly turn those visitors into customers who are ready and willing to invest their time into your product or service.