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Is Your Website User-Friendly?

22nd March 2016
Frog sitting on a question mark

A potential customer has found your website! Hurray! So, ideally they'll browse your site, like what they see, and decide they want to buy your product or services, right?

Sadly even if you're selling exactly what they're looking for this isn't guaranteed. Your website is a window into your business. It doesn't just show customers what you're selling, it gives them a flavour of your business culture, your professionalism, and your values.

Every element of your website sends a message to potential customers. Here are a few considerations:

1) Low quality, skewed images – Message: I'm not very professional or concerned about my brand image.

It pays to include some quality photos that portray your brand well. Avoid out of focus shots, poor lighting, or stretched and skewed images.

2) Spelling/grammar errors – Message: I don't pay attention to detail or proofread my work.

Your writing should be as painless to read as possible. Use sites such as readability-score.com and Grammarly to make sure your writing is polished and accessible. Make sure your font is easy to read, use headings to help readers scan the text, and try to avoid jargon.

3) Subscription form with no privacy policy – Message: I'm not transparent about how I store contact details or what I do with them.

Inspire confidence by including a privacy policy if you expect people to fill in web forms or subscribe to your newsletter. Include a cookie policy if you have enabled any tracking software on your site.

4) Difficult navigation – Message: I'm not well organised

You can make life easier for people by making the content they're interested in easier to find. If they have to look through six different tabs to find out how to subscribe to a mail list they'll probably lose interest. Ideally, they should never be a more than a few clicks away from where they want to be.

5) Covered in flashing 3rd party ads and banners – Message: I'm spammy and may give you malware.

If you decide to monetise your site or blog, make sure the ads are relevant and likely to be of interest to your visitors. Make sure too, that your ads don't outweigh your own content.

6) Doesn't render properly on mobile screens – Message: I've not considered my mobile customers.

Don't alienate mobile users. Ofcom figures from 2015 show the proportion of people who use their phones to access the internet as 61%. The chances are a lot of your site visitors will be using mobile devices, so make them feel welcome.

7) Social sharing icons that cover the page content – Message: sharing my content is more important than reading it.

Writing content that people enjoy reading and want to share is great. Social sharing icons that obstruct that content are not so great. This simple design concept will stop you from frustrating your readers.

8) The site takes an eternity to load unless you have superfast broadband – Message: who cares, all those fonts I installed look awesome.

Cool features come with a cost. When browsers load web pages, they load HTML, style sheets, scripts, images etc. Fonts, JavaScript plug-ins, images, and embedded video, all add to this loading time. If your target audience lives in more remote areas where superfast broadband is unlikely, then bear this in mind.

9) The site hasn't been updated in 10 years – Message: I may or may not still be in business.

An out of date site doesn't do much for you. The chances are it isn't mobile friendly and it may contain content that is no longer relevant to your customers. Search engines favour sites that are updated regularly and visitors will be reassured that you're still operating.

10) The colour scheme is terrible - Message: I don't think things through.

White text on a light yellow background will be physically painful to read. Think through your colour choices. If you want to have a background image, take into account how the text over it will appear as the image scrolls. The text might look fine over a dark landscape until the user scrolls and the text sits on top of a white sky.

In short, websites shouldn't put people off. They should inspire confidence in your brand and make people want to 'call now', 'book now', or 'add to cart'.