When designing your website, making it user friendly is one of the most important things you need to consider. Your website is your main marketing tool and it represents you and/or your business for all to see.
Everybody has visited a website that was most definitely not user friendly. How long did you stay on that site? 20 seconds perhaps? This is certainly not how long you hope to keep visitors on your own site.
To stop this from happening you need to ensure your website is user friendly otherwise it will completely fail at accomplishing whatever it is you aim to use it for, be it sell products or merely give out some great free advice.
To succeed in making a user friendly website there are several things you need to look out for.
The easy way to avoid anything visitors will not like is quite simple, just think about what it is you would hate to run into on a website and do the opposite.
If I were to use three words to describe what I want from a website I would say easy, fast and informative.
A user friendly website means easy navigation, easy to read, easy to find what it is you are looking for and easy viewing.
Do not build a cluttered website.
Keep all tabs in a structured orderly format. For example if you were to have a website that sold or merely gave information on computer components, you would not have everything from graphics cards to network cards in one big list which would take a day to scroll through in order to discover what it was you were looking for.
No. You would have set categories, graphics cards in one tab, then a separate tab for network cards, processors etc.
Easy to read means nice size fonts, not too small but neither too large as this may be easy to read but really does not look good at all.
Easy to find is connected to navigation again. Everything should be where common sense dictates. You should not have to look around for 2 hours to find the checkout button on a site that sells things for example, or your basket which shows everything you have ready to buy.
A good 'search' function is always advisable for all websites, to help people find exactly what they are looking for without having to search through the entire site.
Easy viewing refers to the look and feel of the site. It should be smart and tidy with an appealing design and color scheme, but also representative of its function. For example a site giving medical advice should use clean neutral colors.
Loading times are important on a site. You want a quick load speed so viewers are not left watching a loading bar for 10 seconds or a message that says "downloading now, please be patient", or better yet a black screen that seems to take too long to refresh.
It should be immediate! You click a tab and you are taken to its content in under a second. The thing that typically slows down the loading speed are the very large images that are used on blogs or websites. Do your best to optimize the size of your images before adding them to your site. Once they are added, always double check your site to see how fast it loads with the images you just added.
I came across an excellent site the other day that did a post on how to optimize images for the web. They include lots of cool tools that you can check out. If your site is slow to load then you really need to try their optimizing tools. Most are free downloads.
Secondly, nobody likes getting bogged down by one pop–up after another when they visit websites, especially ones that are difficult to close. Consider your audience and the intent of your pop–up before installing them on your website. Whether pop–ups are a good feature or not is a highly debated topic on the Internet. I personally don't mind when there is one pop–up at some point throughout my visit on a site, but when I close it and it keeps coming back with every page I visit, then I tend to look for the nearest exit.
Keep advertisements to a minimum. Some ads are fine and are expected on websites but there is a thin line between well placed ads and those that will ruin the whole aesthetic of your site, even cheapen it.
Content is key with a user friendly website.
There is nothing user friendly about Googling for something just to be taken to a site that was supposed to contain what you were looking for and end up drowned in Google ads and pop–ups with not even the smallest bit of helpful information pertaining to what you needed in the first place. Another thing that can be annoying is to click on a website page, expecting to see useful content, but instead you see "coming soon" or "under construction". If you have published your website but are still working on some individual pages, then do not add those pages until you have your content on them because people expect your pages to have content, not messages saying "coming soon".
Be sure to fill your site with the kind of content that your target market is looking for. A helpful site is a popular site.
A truly user friendly website is all about its design and content. A well designed, aesthetically pleasing website with all the content you require, laid out in an easy to navigate manner, is perfect.
Keep the ads to a minimum, remove any annoying pop–ups and make sure the website is hosted with enough bandwidth so that loading speed is not an issue, and you will have yourself a truly user friendly website.