Creating User Friendly Web Sites
Your website should delight your customers rather than infuriate them. They should be able to find the information they are looking for with ease. Make the effort to ensure that your site is user friendly.
Give your customers good, clear navigation that is easy to use. Don’t make your drop-down navigation so long that it drops below the browser window. Too many levels of navigation can be confusing and difficult to manipulate. If your site is large a search facility can be useful. Here is a blog listing 22 principles of good navigation
Test your navigation and links regularly, especially your external links. Things change quickly on the web and websites come and go. Test your internal navigation when you make changes to the site. Have a look at your 404 error page and check that it provides the information to help your visitors find the page they are looking for. You can check out your 404 page by typing in an extension on the end of your domain name that does not exist: for example yourdomain.com/blar. Never blame your visitor for making the mistake.
Your website needs to be easy to read. The text should not be too small or too large. Writing in capitals can be difficult to read. Some people think that if you write in capitals you are shouting at your visitors. Consider the colour of the text compared to the colour of the background. The greater the contrast between the background colour and the text the easier your page will be to read. Some colour combinations are difficult to read for some people. Some colour combinations are impossible to read for people who are colour blind.
Ensure that the information that customers are most likely to be looking for is easy to find. This includes:
- contact information
- where they can find your physical store if you have one,
- your opening hours
- what your business does or sells
- prices of your products or services
Well Set out
Important information should be at the top of the page visible to viewers without having to scroll down. Don’t be tempted to clutter you home page with too much information. Using a “read more” link can act as an enticer to lead visitors to other pages.
If you have forms on your site they should be easy to use. If you are collecting personal information you need to tell the user how you are going to use that information. Only collect as much information as you need. Try to avoid making your forms too long. Make it clear to the user what fields on the form need to be entered and check if this information is present before the user submits the form.
Your web site should be quick to open. Sites that are slow, loose visitors even before they get to the landing page. Check the size of your images, as large images can slow down the performance of the site. Optimise your images and as a rule ensure that they are under 100kb in size. Test your website speed.
When your site is ready for publishing ask your friends and clients to look at it and give their opinion. Remember everyone uses the internet in different ways so it is a good idea to offer several ways to accomplish the same task. Customers will return to a user friendly site but if your site frustrates them they will leave and not come back. Read Check your website performance for more about testing your site.
Here is a story about User Testing