The Importance of User-Friendly Website Design & Functionality
The term "user-friendly" may be a term you can get tired of hearing, like Adele’s music. In the business of web design, however, it is a term that can never be overstated. It is perhaps the most important element of web design. It is the ultimate goal of all web pages and it is the main reason we at The Rusty Pixel have jobs and clients. There are some very important aspects to remember when designing your website in order to maximize the ease of overall functionality.
So let’s get this out of the way – All web design companies stress their websites are user-friendly but lets be honest; who designs anything to NOT be user-friendly? Yet it has become a statement over used ad nauseum in the Florida web design world and just like M. Night Shyamalan directing career, has become absolutely meaningless. So what does user friendliness actually mean?
First, you must be in touch with and have a great understanding of your site’s primary demographic. For example, if you’re redesigning AARP.org you would want to use a larger font and text and your navigation should include larger buttons with high contrast. If you’re designing a website for young children you can could a wide variety of bright colors and include playful font styles and animated navigation help. A website for a sports team should include scores, schedules, stats, and Dallas Cowboys’ mugshots right on the home page.
Since your clients’ instructions for how they want the layout of their site to be is your first priority, communicating with them about their demographic is key. Sometimes companies may even overlook their own key demographic – like what the Cleveland Browns do with Browns fans – so it’s up to you to find this out. You always want to give your clients what they want because it’s just going to make you look good and lead to more business for you, right? Well, if you help create an aesthetically pleasing site that your client loves but ultimately ends up getting few hits, the client’s business suffers and that won’t look very good on you and could decrease your business just as quickly. So, communication with your clients on this matter is key.
In an article on WebsiteMagazine.com Velly Angelova wrote "3 Tips to Make Your Website More User-Friendly." Velly stresses Concise content and readability. This part speaks for itself. Your site should be easy to scan and your font and text should be easy to read. The next tip is to improve navigation. Be sure to clean and strategically place your layout. Top or left-hand side is common. Adding a search bar can not only help your site’s visitors find the information they’re looking for, but it can also help you get a better understanding of what visitors are most interested in. The last tip is to speed up your site. Like it or not, we live in the "Instant Age." Everyone wants everything right now! The average person only views a website for less than 30 seconds so you do not want to waste most of those seconds loading your site. It should be loaded in 5 seconds or less. Avoid any large videos, photos, Flash and other files. If you have to use them, be sure to compress them in order to minimize load time.
The bottom line of a successful, user-friendly website is going to be ease of use and speed. Your visitors’ patience is the ultimate test. Beta testing for your new website design is only going to help. The best thing to remember before getting started on a new website design is while you, yourself, may be an I.T. wizard and a tech geek, you must always assume that the primary visitors to the site are not. Please contact us at The Rusty Pixel for more information on building a better, more user-friendly website.