Studio Giraffe

7 vital elements of a user-friendly website

Digital, Graphic DesignTulika SudComment

Your website is often the first impression a potential customer has of you and your business. Here are some simple tips to ensure they have the best experience possible.

1. Consistency

Consistency both across sites and within your site is essential. Don't expect your users to learn new behaviours—leverage on what they already know, or they will lose patience and leave your website. Within your site, ensure a clear and consistent structure by defining fixed styles for headers, buttons, menus etc so they are instantly recognisable and do exactly what the user expects them to do.

2. Clear navigation

Ensure your user can quickly get to where they want to go. Use easy-to-understand language to name your pages, so nobody has trouble finding what they're looking for. 

3. Properly planned hierarchy

The overall hierarchy of your site needs to be planned beforehand, to ensure the structure is easy for users to understand in terms of what pages exist and where. Sketch out a sitemap and test it with a few people to see if it feels like a natural flow to them.

To create an aesthetically pleasing website which is also easy to navigate, ensure the content hierarchy is well thought out. Draw the eye of the user to where you want them to look by using catchy visuals and large font sizes. Less important information can appear smaller. 

4. Responsive design

Responsive web design is the approach of adapting a site design to different screen types and sizes, to ensure the user has a smooth experience no matter what device they are using to access your site. Mobile use is fast overtaking desktop—according to January 2018 data, the global mobile population was touching nearly 3.7 billion unique users, so responsiveness is absolutely essential.

5. Clean code and optimisation

Load times are an essential part of the user experience. Images and videos must be optimised for your site to ensure your page loads quickly. Upload images at the resolution that you need, and no bigger! Website load times will affect your search engine ranking, and remember, many of your users will be accessing your site on mobile and using their data plans to do so, so you don't want to force them to download large images and wait for your page to load.

6. Accessibility

Ensure your site works for all audiences. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises access to information via the internet as a basic human right. Web designers and developers can take various steps to ensure a site is accessible to all users, including sufficient colour contrast, image text alternatives, adequately sized fonts, etc. You can test your site using the Web Accessibility Checklist here.

7. Simple forms

If you are using your website to generate leads, don't risk putting users off with endless data entry requirements. Keep your forms simple and clear, and ask for only the information that is essential to you. Clearly mark required fields and provide a dropdown or checkbox where possible to minimise manual entry.