We hear a lot about website usability and how important it is to create a site that is user friendly, but not too much on what that means. Sure, “user friendly” is rather self-explanatory in that your site should be friendly to the user (right?), but how do you make a site user friendly? In other words, how do you increase the usability of your website?
5 Simple Ways to Boost the Usability Factor of Your Website
To help you increase your site’s usability, here are five quick and easy ways that you can make your website more user friendly, to increase traffic, SERP rankings and your conversion rate:
Make Sure Your Site Loads Quickly
A site that loads quickly is user friendly, why? Because nobody wants to wait around for a site to load up! When you want answers or to buy something online, you want to do it as quickly as possible. Think about your own browsing habits: if a site takes more than 3 to 5 seconds, chances are you are going to click “back” or go to another site. We have very little patience for slow internet speeds and if a site isn’t loading quickly, we tend to think that it’s either broken or mismanaged. Don’t put large files on your landing pages and your site will load much quicker. Overall, a site that is between 60KB and 100KB is ideal for loading time because for every second over 3 it takes your site to load, figure on losing 10% of your viewers.
Have Enough White Space
White space is essential to making it easier on your viewer’s eyes. White space is simply the amount of background showing on your site that isn’t covered in media, text or other content. The best contrast is black on white, but you can play around with this a little—just keep your viewer’s eyesight in mind and make the core of your copy’s contrast high. You don’t want a reader to click away because they are getting a migraine and you don’t want them getting confused or lost in the message from distracting background images. Keep it simple and have enough white space on your site.
Get the Right Font and Size
Your text is what is going to inform your users what your site is about and what you want them to do, so if it isn’t user friendly, it isn’t going to get read. Boost the readability of your site by increasing the ease of reading through font size and type. Choose a font that is simple to read and adequately spaced, making it easier (or more friendly) on your viewer’s eyes. Verdana is a great font as is sans serif. Stay away from fonts with “feet” as they tend to make the eyes tired. Once again, remember tip number two: white space, white space, white space.
Keep Important Content Above the Fold
When you read a newspaper, it is generally folded in half. The top half is what the viewer sees first so naturally, that’s where the headlines and important information are as well. Use this technique for your website—put all the critical info “above the fold.” Above the fold on a website simply means what you see when you land on the site without having to scroll down. If you don’t capture the viewer’s attention right away, there’s nothing to say that they will scroll down to see if there’s something more interesting—put the info above the fold and make them scroll down out of interest, not because they don’t see anything. For a standard screen measurement, use 1024×768 as your guide.
Navigation Bar is Familiar
Do you know what happens when a viewer gets to a site and can’t figure out how to navigate through it? They feel inadequate, old and stupid. They feel like they didn’t keep up with the times and that they should just back out of the room slowly—not very friendly of you, is it? To avoid this, stick with the plain and simple navigation menu that either runs across the top or down the left side of your website. This makes the viewer feel comfortable, like they are at home and they know what to do—like a friend!
With these tips, your website will be more “usable,” but you still have a long way to go to really get that “user friendly” rating Google keeps harping about.
This article is written by Dan Mill working for LiveCity.com, a sought after free website builder to create professional websites in minutes.