We all strive for our websites to be popular and bring us a substantial income. However, in our pursuit of rich income, we often overlook the comfort of an average website user. As a result, our online projects lose popularity and fail to meet our expectations.
This is the year of usability and user-friendly Web design. If you look into the Web design trends of 2017, you’ll see they are centered around the user and their experience on the website. And this is not a coincidence. Multiple studies have shown that user-friendliness correlates with conversion rate, which is vital to every website owner.
What is Usability?
Usability can be simply defined as comfort of the end-user on a website. If a website is overcrowded with ad banners, pop-up windows and random content, no one will want to visit the site.
Common aspects of usability include:
You should account for website usability in the early stages of your website creation. Present your information in a clear and concise way, place important website elements where they are easily accessible and make sure the look of your website is consistent on different devices — do this and you are bound to have a website that will be a pleasure to browse.
Usability and Conversion Rate
There is a strong link between usability and conversion rate. The more convenient and well-thought out your website is, the more likely its visitors will take an action that you want them to take, be it a sale or a lead generation. The fewer clicks it takes to get to what people came for, the more people will choose your site over a competitor.
In this post, I will cover the 10 most important elements that make a website user-friendly. Check to see if your website has them all or take them into consideration if you’re just about to start a new website.
1. Make Your Navigation Easy to Follow
Website navigation is a paramount element that ensures usability. Your navigation should be simple and lead the site users where they want to go. Give every page a speaking name, so its purpose is clear. Make sure your submenus stand under the right menus.
As a rule, you should limit yourself to three-levels of hierarchy. If you have more, this will hardly be usable. Go for widgets to display categories if you need to, but do not overcrowd your main navigation.
If you have a lot to cover in your main navigation, a smart modern solution to resort to is MegaMenu. MegaMenu is a drop-down interface that shows all the navigation options in one large mega-panel, where you can group related topics into subcategories. MegaMenu is different from a regular menu in that you can include not only pages in it, but also categories, single articles or even widgets. This gives you extra freedom to feature only what you need.
2. Smart Placement of the Navigation
In pursuit of originality, some website designers, place the main menu on the right, in the middle or even at the bottom of the homepage. But this is not a good idea. Navigation is such an important element of a website that it should be right where you expect it to be. The optimal placement of the navigation is at the top in your website header.
One more placement that you can afford yourself without harming your website usability is on the left. Go for this option if you want to emphasize your creativity and unconventional thinking. Left-hand menus are often seen on photography, art and personal portfolio websites. Check out the example of the photographer portfolio website home page below:
3. Make Your Navigation Handy on Mobile
Top navigation looks awkward on mobiles if it has the same look as on PCs. It falls down into several lines and often occupies a large portion of a mobile screen. A user-friendly way to present a menu on mobile screens is to create an accordion that unfolds after pressing the ‘Navigation’ icon next to the website logo.
In this case, someone who just wants to get to know you can simply scroll down your home page, while someone who needs navigation knows where it is and can just simply press the corresponding button.
4. Add Search Functionality
Even if you’re just launching your website and have only a few pages to start with, strive to grow bigger. That is why search functionality is a must, no matter how simple or complex your website is.
You don’t know who will land on your website and how much time they have. Let people save their time by including a search function to your website pages. The best placement of the search bar is on the top right, so spare this space for it.
To implement live search functionality go for plugins and extensions, available on the net. For example, if you have a WordPress theme, search for a plugin on the inbuilt Plugin Market.
Search functionality is extremely important for large e-stores with vast catalogues as well as for real estate websites. On such websites, you can go not only for a search bar, but for a search widget that offers extended live search and let’s you find the needed product quickly. In the example below, a real estate template by TemplateMonster provides extended property search. Once clients find the property they like, they can leave a submission online and be contacted for visiting the property.
5. High Loading Speed
High loading speed is one of the most important criteria of your website popularity. This factor influences not only people, but also your ranking in search engine results. The longer it takes for a page to load, the less likely a user will wait. If your page takes more than 10 seconds to load, it is a catastrophe. Your page needs to load in at least three seconds.
To increase the loading speed of your website, decrease the number of HTTP queries, optimize images and CSS styles and don’t use large scripts and plugins.
To entertain your website users while your website loads, use a fun pre-loader that fits your identity.
6. Present Your Content in a Simple, Concise, Visual Way
Remember that you’re not writing a novel. No one is going to peruse long paragraphs. Use informative captions, highlight with bold, italics or underline. To present information in a smart way, use different types of content display: Tabs, accordions, post carousels, timers, graphs, diagrams and timelines. To create such content types, find plugins and extensions available on the Net.
For instance, this website uses counters to represent achievements of your company. Website guests are more likely to pay attention to dynamic content rather than to a static one.
Also, never hesitate to use iconic fonts on your website. They brighten up your content presentation and serve as informative bullets in a bulleted list. Many free icons are available on the FontAwesomeCheatsheet page.
7. Take Your Website Responsiveness Up a Notch
Responsiveness is a key priority for 2017 Web design. Many technical improvements come in line with this trend. A responsive website adapts to different screen resolution and delivers information with equal effectiveness on small (mobile), medium (tablet) and large (PC) screens.
A good reason to care about responsiveness is the fact that Google now ranks the websites that are not responsive lower in search results.
To improve your website responsiveness, do not disrupt the functioning of the Bootstrap grid, do not go overboard with CSS positioning and make sure the plugins you use adopt to different viewports.
8. Make Your Contact Information Easy to Find
Clients should not spend their time in search for contact information on your website. Make it simple to contact you and your website guests will be more apt to trust you. Include the following information:
- Full name;
- Phone number;
- E-mail address;
- Physical address (If you work from home, make sure to provide at least the city/town and country of your residence).
Place your contact information in website header to be open to your clients. It’s wise to include a click-to-call button to be user-friendly for mobile users.
Repeat your contact information in the footer and on the Contact Us page. This won’t be too much; this will ensure that the clients can find this information handy.
9. Add Social Login to Your Website
Registration and log in are the things that take extra time and site guests are often reluctant to register. The less time it takes to register, the more clients are likely to do this. Allowing clients to authorize with social networks, such as Google+ and Facebook makes registration at least 1.5 times more likely to be completed.
To allow social registration on your website, use additional plugins and extensions that are available online for every major CMS.
10. Use Industry-Specific Extensions
You can make your website even more user-friendly if you add some additional functionality to it. This functionality depends on the branch of industry that you work in. For instance, for a hotel or travel website, include an online hotel booking form. For classes or courses include an interactive schedule. For medical and beauty websites include appointment booking functionality. In this case, your clients won’t have to contact you to get the services from you, and will have all the information they need handy.
For incorporation of such functionality to your website, you’ll have to resort to additional plugins, some of which may be pretty costly. Consider acquiring a modern website template that comes with a number of pre-built industry-specific plugins that you get for free. Check out these bestsellers of the template world to see how many feature-rich plugins they include.
Usability is important for every modern website that targets high conversion. To improve your website usability, think of convenience for your website visitors. Take care of logics and positioning of your navigation, make sure that all the elements of your website are responsive, improve your website loading speed and use extensions that create convenience for site guests. If your website is user-friendly, your site guests will convert into your loyal clients and will choose you over your competitors.
Have I missed something? If you know some more usability tricks or have any suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments section below. I’m always happy to participate in a discussion.