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Why Your Website Must Be User-Friendly

User-friendly. User experience. User-focused. These basic elements of good website design all reflect the grand principle of usability: the idea that every website should be built with the user in mind! Sadly, it’s easy to lose sight of our visitors’ interests and goals, especially with the amazing technology we have at our disposal. With websites, though, it’s okay to go simple — and you’ll likely see better results if you do it. Here are the benefits of emphasizing usability in your website design and development. 

Web development is now so affordable and versatile, it’s tempting to go all out as we design our websites. Multi-image carousels? Sure! An infinite scroll of content? Why not? But the more excited we get about our design, the more likely we are to become navel-gazing. In other words, we forget the people our website is supposed to serve: the users! 

A good user experience (UX) is crucial to a website’s success. Without it, users will gladly leave for greener (read: simpler) pastures. Here’s why you need to prioritize your website’s usability and make it friendly for everyone who stumbles upon it.

A User-Friendly Website Clarifies Your Message

We’ve all seen those sites that are epic feats of coding, with animated splash panels, shifting page elements, and headings that shimmer and swirl. These sites are beautiful, yes, but are they really doing anything besides showing off? Don’t make your users wait for massive images to fade into view, and don’t bury your content in bells and whistles. With rare exception, most users are looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. If they can’t instantly see that in your site, you’ll lose them.

Keep your site simple: design it from the user’s point of view. What types of content do they want to see? What’s their chief concern when they land on the site? Will they know how to navigate your page? Like it or not, there is a predictable pattern for the world’s most successful websites, and it does no one any favors to deviate from this pattern.

Place important content at the top of the page and down the left side. Include a search bar in the top right corner. Use a single-column layout if possible. Don’t include tons of page elements or images. These choices may seem boring, but there’s still plenty of room for creativity — and you’ve met most visitors’ expectations of how to navigate your site.

When you keep it simple, your core message is much more accessible. 

Usability Boosts Visitors’ Length and Engagement

Ever stumbled onto a blog from a Google search, then found yourself clicking around the host website for more goodies? Perhaps the list of related posts in the sidebar drew you in. Perhaps the word “Freebies” in the menu caught your eye. These are examples of how good usability encourages visitors to spend more time on a site. This, in turn, tells Google that the site is valuable and should be ranked higher.

This isn’t to say you should pack your headers and menus full of links. Quite the opposite! When making your website “usable,” think about how to make it convenient. Each page should make it easy for a visitor to find relevant content. Clean, streamlined layouts are important here: eye-tracking studies show that most users read content in an F pattern. They also tend to skim content, which is much easier with clear backgrounds and legible headings. Treat your UX like an art gallery: good lighting, white walls, and lots of space between each piece of content!

Good UX Leads to More Conversions

Even if your website is not an e-commerce site, you probably still want visitors to take some action, whether that’s booking your services, subscribing to your email list, etc. These actions are called conversions, and your site’s overall design and content should be geared toward them.

A site that is not user-friendly does not inspire consumer confidence. If people can’t figure out how to navigate your site or if it crashes their browser, it’s safe to say they won’t convert. Your primary goal should be to build trust with your visitors. Good UX is crucial to doing so, because it shows that you’ve prioritized your user’s needs over your design fancies. 

Finally, a clean, efficient UX ensures that your visitors see relevant content at the right time. Think of it this way: someone who has their heart set on connecting with you will be willing to poke around your site a bit. Those who don’t know you from Adam will leave as soon as they feel confused. But those in-between need some encouragement. If the UX delivers the right messages as they scroll your homepage, affirming their thought process along the way, they’ll be much more likely to convert than if your UX seems random and disorganized. 

Wrapping Up

All that said, website usability is more than UX and user-friendliness: it’s the overall focus on your visitors’ goals and intent. From the look-and-feel of your site to the content and its underlying structure, a highly usable website is one in which everything is at your users’ fingertips and nothing forces them to break away from their natural patterns. So don’t be afraid to use a classic website layout with a simple theme. After all, your message and value are what matters — not the flashing banners and spinning animations!

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