If you want visitors to stick around, keep coming back and spending more money, your website has to be one which is user-friendly. Today’s internet users have high expectations and often prefer a company whose website offers a great user experience, even if the prices aren’t as low as elsewhere. This is why, with profit margins being so tight and many competitors offering broadly similar services, user-friendliness is often the decisive factor in choosing which website to buy from. In this post, we’ll show you some useful ways to improve your user-friendliness.
1. Improve loading speed
User-friendliness starts before your visitor has even landed on your site and begins with how quickly your site loads on their device. If it does, you’re off to a great start. If it doesn’t, then you need to consider that if it takes more than a couple of seconds to load, you’re losing almost half your visitors (and sales) already.
Slow loading sites aren’t user-friendly at all. They are burdensome, especially if the user needs to browse several pages and each one takes an age to appear. Most users will abandon the site quickly and go elsewhere – many won’t even wait for the first page to load.
To improve speed, choose a web host that provides fast hosting and use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool which will show you how fast your site loads and tell you how to speed it up.
If your website isn’t fully responsive, those people who visit using a mobile device won’t be able to access the site correctly. As people now spend twice as much time browsing on a phone as they do on a computer, this means you could be losing up to 60% of your visitors and the subsequent conversions. Again, Google will show you how mobile-friendly your site is with its Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
3. Make it easy to find everything
Websites can be big, sprawling places with lots of categories and subcategories. This can make it hard for visitors to find the information they are looking for. A user-friendly site is one which does everything possible to make finding things easy.
Menus are one of the main ways people find information and these should be conveniently located, clearly labelled and have their contents organised in a way which the user would find helpful. Importantly, the menu needs to be simple to use. It the menu is overcomplicated, the user has no-chance with the rest of the website.
Another essential navigation feature is a site search, where users can type in what they are looking for. Many themes have these built-in, though there are various plugins that can be used if yours doesn’t. Site search makes it very easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, especially on very large, complex sites.
Finally, you should also consider a filtering feature. This is ideal for eCommerce sites as it lets customers narrow down their choices to meet their exact needs. For example, if a customer is searching for a dress, they can filter the results for the price, size, colour and brand they are looking for. You’ll be familiar with these user-friendly features on most good online stores.
4. Give clear instructions
Although it sounds obvious, some websites don’t give clear instructions to their visitors about what things they need to do next. This could prevent customers from adding an item to a shopping cart or checking out, it can leave them unable to give feedback or initiate online chat or it could stop them navigating to another part of the website.
When visitors feel lost, confused or unable to carry out an action, they leave. Giving them clear instructions helps prevent this. These can be done simply by putting the information on the page – often in the form of a Call to Action – such as ‘Add to Cart’, ‘Go to Checkout’ or ‘Click Here to Chat To Customer Service’.
5. Write your content for your users
A user-friendly website is one whose content is easy to understand and follow. How easy, depends on your intended audience. If your site is for the general public, then the content needs to be relatively jargon-free and written using short sentences that don’t use complicated vocabulary. If you are writing for a specialist audience, the use of jargon may actually be required. Similarly, an educated audience might expect more complex vocabulary.
The key to getting it right is in knowing who your audience is and writing in a way that they find friendly. A history website, for example, would write its content differently for primary school children than it would for those taking a history degree.
It’s not just the actual words that need thinking about, either. You should also think about the way the content is presented, such as the size and colour of the font, the use of white space and the images on display. All these need to be user-friendly for your visitors.
6. Fix broken links
If you have broken links, you’ll be sending your users to pages that don’t exist anymore. They are bad for websites because, by creating a link, you give the user an expectation and then you disappoint them when they find it doesn’t work. This has a negative psychological impact upon them as it implies you don’t keep your promises. While you might be forgiven once; if your site contains several broken links, it’s likely to drive customers elsewhere.
You can fix broken links easily with the use of a plugin. These will even send notifications if a broken link is found so you can update or amend it as soon as possible.
7. Make it simple to get in touch
Any business that puts its customers at the heart of its operations will make it easy for them to get in touch. They may have an issue with a product, a query over delivery, want to change an order or have a question that could lead to a new sale. Being able to contact you quickly is not only user-friendly; it improves customer confidence and trust and enhances your company’s reputation.
The simplest way to let customers get in contact is to have a ‘Contact Us’ page that is clearly linked to on every other page of your website. This page should display all available methods of contacting you (phone, email, chat, contact form, social media, business address, etc.) and give explicit instructions of how it should be done.
User-friendliness has never been more important for websites. With so much competition for customers to choose from, a website that goes out of its way to be easy to use is one which will attract new visitors and retain them over the long term, helping your business to keep on prospering.
If you need faster hosting for your website, visit our homepage to see our range of hosting solutions.