Make your website easier to use
Give users what they expect
Create a familiar website experience
Make your website a better experience for users and watch your online business grow. The technique of making a website easier to navigate and read is called “usability”.
The most important guideline of usability is to write and design a website that’s close to the experience of an in-person transaction. It can also mean conforming to standards, such as putting the login in the upper right-hand corner of your website.
When you break from common conventions, you make users do more work. This might be a good tactic occasionally, but most visitors to your site want to find the information they need quickly. Make it difficult for visitors to get what they came for and they may leave your site quickly. Break too many of the rules and you may harm your connection with potential buyers.
Write a website for mobile-first
Most small business owners will get approximately half of their business from customers on a mobile device. Don’t miss out. Pay attention to the mobile experience of your site. Follow a for-mobile-framework and you’ll make the desktop version of your website easier to use as well.
Guidelines to make mobile content scannable:
- Lead with important information
- Link to in-depth details on other pages, for people who want to go deeper into the topic
- Use short headlines or sub-headlines to highlight content that follows
- Divide copy into small chunks, short sentences and bullet points
- Require the least amount of data in fields that you need such as contact forms
- Make text at least 14 pixels
- Use a plain web font such as Arial
- Use high–contrast colors for text
- Put bold call-to-action type in buttons and leave space around them
Make it accessible
One in four adults in the United States has some type of disability according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When you follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), you’re not only making a smart move from a sales point of view, you’ll also be doing the right thing. Web standards that don’t discriminate against people with disabilities are being widely used around the world.
Usability also has an impact on your search ranking
Many of the practices that are required by the American Disabilities Act (ADA) will also make your website work better for search engines. For example, when you organize text in a logical order with a big headline, sub-headlines, and then body text. This format lets technology understand your meaning. Search software that “crawls” your site to catalog information and screenreading software that assists the blind, are a couple of examples. A logical order will help these tools detect what concepts belong together.
Improve user experience
Here are top elements that will draw in and keep many more visitors to and on your website:
- Readability – Adjust word choices and sentence construction so that someone with a fifth-grade education can understand what you’re saying. Many free, online tools do the work for you such as the Hemingwayapp.com. Readability checks are also integrated into Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
- Color coding and contrast – Older people and those with visual impairments can’t see the information that is strictly organized according to color choices. Be sure that color-coding options also have a text counterpart. You can use a browser plugin such as Contrast Checker to test color contrast.
- Functions – Many people with limited motor skills browse websites without a mouse. They use the Tab key on a keyboard to jump to the area of the website page they want to focus on. You can learn more about keyboard accessibility here. This step may require you to hire a web developer, but it’s worth the effort because adding “schema” coding will also improve your search ranking.
- Add descriptive “alternative” text to images – “Alt text” is also called a tag. It’s simply the text you use to describe an image. If you add a simple title to your image files, people with visual disabilities can hear your short description using special software. Alt texting also improves your site rank in search.
Good navigation saves time
Make sure that your menu is organized in a way that makes sense to someone who is new to your site and knows nothing about what your business does. When you organize your small business solutions into a natural structure, it will lead to better results. Submenus should go into further detail and fall under the correct menu heading. Website maps are also called “wireframes” and if you’re a business startup, it should be at the very beginning of your website development process. You don’t have to get fancy. A wireframe is like those outlines you made in school before you set out to write an essay.
Follow the famous three-click rule
If users can’t get what they want in three clicks, they’re likely to move on. Make the journey to every page a quick route. Users tend to abandon the effort when the task is difficult rather than taking time to figure things out. A successful website should help users achieve their goals without much thinking.
Choose words carefully for your navigation.
According to this Smashing Magazine article, using “Stores” instead of “Store Locator” is a small yet substantial tweak when users are deciding if the website’s pages relate to their goals. Check if your wording in navigation is clear enough to guide your targeted users.
Take advantage of fresh eyes. If you need a mentor, check out our Request a Mentor page.
Bottom line: Make your site more user-friendly to improve performance
Today, new website templates are designed to conform to recommended user-experience (UI). Older sites should consider reviewing their sites to see if improvements can be made. If pages on your site have a high bounce rate, it means that people aren’t getting what they expect or need. This can be solved by following the steps in this blog.
Make your website a useful and easy experience, and you will see better ranking and sales.
Aileen Ghee, NYWIB Director of Marketing
Kun Yang-Tokachev, NYWIB Copywriter
Macollvie J. Neel, NYWIB Senior Editor
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