A website does not only promote a brand’s goods and services. It also stands as a representation of the brand itself. So, having an attractive, highly functional, and user-friendly website can set your company apart in today’s business landscape.
According to research from GoodFirms, 88.5% of site visitors leave due to slow loading, 73.1% from poor responsiveness, and 61.5% from bad navigation. These concerns collectively point to terrible usability. The figures suggest that a website that isn’t user-friendly will drive visitors away and negatively impact your brand image and digital sales.
As such, we prepared a simple guide to help you construct a user-friendly website or redesign existing portals into websites with better usability.
What Makes a Website User-Friendly
Before we proceed with the guide, we should define what a user-friendly website is. A portal with high usability is easy to navigate, with menus and functionalities neatly organized in visible corners. The functionalities should be simple to accommodate visitors of all skill levels, including non-tech-savvy users.
The main points of improving the usability of a website are to highlight your products effectively, streamline the purchasing process, and generate a favorable impression with your target audience. Keep in mind that website design has a considerable effect on conversions.
Elements of a User-Friendly Portal
To highlight usability, you should put yourself in your audience’s shoes when browsing your website. At first glance, visitors must know how to get around the website using their desktops and mobile devices. The menus should be easy to spot, while the functionalities should work as intended with the fewest possible steps involved.
1. Seamless Navigation
A portal with effective navigation places the main menu in a highly visible area near the top or on the left side of the page. Dropdown menus are useful in portals with numerous sections and web applications with various modules and solutions. This enables visitors to access every relevant page to their interests easily. Keep the menu lean, but it should cover all the major sections or landing pages. Having too many menu items could confuse visitors.
Don’t forget to include a search bar near the menu or in a visible corner. This is crucial for retail websites. Research from Nosto shows that 69% of online shoppers immediately proceed to the search bar to look for the items they’re interested in. Meanwhile, 80% of shoppers leave eCommerce sites due to poor search experiences. These include the lack of, or a hard-to-spot search bar.
2. Compatible with Widely Used Mobile Devices
Some brands make the mistake of prioritizing desktop compatibility over mobile compatibility. Your website’s mobile browsing experience should be as frictionless as its desktop’s.
You can check your website’s mobile experience through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test or Chrome Lighthouse. If your portal is not mobile-friendly, you can build or edit your page using a website builder application. Some of these have free plans and are tailored for mobile sites.
You can build complex websites if you know how to code or hire a web team. You can also hire professionals with a graphic design online degree to apply any design scheme your company needs.
3. Accessible Forms
Forms are the screens on which site visitors enter information. They often foster interactions on the website, including sales and lead generation activities. Retail websites should make forms accessible and highly visible, especially as digital point-of-sale tools. In doing so, you can increase conversions since it enhances the process of eCommerce sales for customers.
The forms should be simple and neatly designed to be easy to fill out. Cluttered layouts could confuse site visitors, while too long forms might dissuade them from finishing the form.
4. CTA Buttons
Forms should also include call-to-action (CTA) buttons to prompt site guests to take your desired action. These buttons often direct leads or customers to forms they must fill out to complete specific actions. For instance, an “Add to Cart” button prompts customers to check their digital carts, select a payment option, and enter their financial information. This is followed by a “Confirm” button that completes the sale.
CTA buttons should be placed in visible areas, one for each product. This allows site visitors to simply click on what they want to purchase. Although many websites use green buttons, red appears to be ideal. A report from CXL features various case studies pitting green and red CTA buttons against one another. It shows the red buttons converting more by 5% to 34%.
5. Simple Design
Ideally, a website’s design should be simple, sleek, and easy to understand. It should prioritize function over style but still leave a favorable impression on site visitors aesthetically.
A simple design lets site visitors quickly identify your brand’s value proposition, recognize each website section, and find and buy items or services they want, if applicable. This is important since a website only has a few seconds to catch and sustain site visitors’ attention before they lose interest.
Building a User-Friendly Website
With the elements of a user-friendly website established, Softnix ensures these components are seamlessly integrated into a functional site. Keep in mind that your website is your brand’s digital representation. As such, it should echo your branding scheme. Softnix designs are not only reflective of your brand’s identity but are also flexible to accommodate any promotional campaign your marketing team develops, ensuring a cohesive and adaptable digital presence.
1. Know the Target Audience
Before designing and developing a website, a brand should know who the portal caters to. Otherwise, it won’t deliver the desired results. If you have a social media page, you can check the analytics section to see which segments most interact with your brand and products.
In addition, you can create user personas based on data and research that account for their buying behaviors and trends online. Make these as comprehensive as possible since the design and content of your website should be based on their interests and unique characteristics.
2. Produce Engaging Content
This stage requires you to know your identity as a brand and what you bring to the table for your target audience. After all, it’s your job to effectively relay your brand’s value proposition through your website content.
By knowing your brand and your target market, you can determine the types of content and tone of communication needed to spark interest in site visitors. The content types include text-based product descriptions, blogs, photos, and videos. You can also develop creative ways to present your products’ strong points concerning competitors and foster loyalty among your customer base.
To ensure that your content plan is aligned with your vision, you can create a conversion funnel that outlines the activities and KPIs for the following stages: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. After this, using a spreadsheet, create a content calendar that contains the following information:
- Dates of each month
- Content type
- Content text or description
- Visuals used
- The person responsible for posting
- Due date
- Posting date
In creating a content calendar, you can monitor your website’s content and ensure that your team members do their jobs. You can also do the same for your social media content. This enforces order in your web design and content marketing solutions.
3. Outline Visitor Journeys
With the content team now forming a content plan, you can direct your attention to mapping out the journey of visitors on your brand’s website. List down all the pages your website needs. Include the landing pages like your homepage, the pages for your different product lines, an About Us page that describes your brand, and a Contact Us page for customer inquiries. Create a sitemap from these.
To properly categorize your pages, consider them as magazine sections. Pages that contain general information can lead visitors to several subsections with specific information, depending on the number of product lines your brand has. These general information pages can be your site’s main sections, appearing on the main menu.
To arrange the order of the pages, you can think of the sequence of pages a site visitor will encounter when browsing your website. Do this for all site visits, be it buying an item or knowing the products more, to have an idea of your website’s navigation. Apply the ones that make the most sense for your target audience, especially regarding conversions and support.
4. Establish A Consistent Design Scheme
Regardless of the page visitors browse, your website’s design should always remind them they are interacting with your brand. Create uniform designs that reflect your brand’s identity, including key elements like buttons, menus, fonts, icons, images, banners, and other visuals. You can have your designer do wireframing to get an idea of how your website’s pages will appear.
Keep in mind that functionality and usability should be prioritized when creating designs. In some cases, designers alter customer journeys to give way to more picturesque visuals. This is okay for brand-centric portals, but if you aim to enhance the experience of site visitors, the design should work around established customer flow elements.
Moreover, be specific when requesting revisions to the wireframes and entertain sound suggestions from your designer to reduce guesswork. This speeds up the web design process considerably.
5. Website Development
You can create or have your developer prepare a specification document that outlines your website’s technical requirements and functions. This will serve as a guide for your development team as they construct your portal’s framework. For instance, you may want to highlight the major functionalities of your website, how its forms should work, and the desired user experiences in browsing the interface.
Websites should adhere to certain accessibility standards set by governmental bodies. You may want to look up the following legislation and perform necessary adjustments to be compliant:
- Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
- European Accessibility Act (EAA)
- Section 508
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
When the technical requirements have been set, your development team will begin constructing your website. This stage involves a series of tests that will monitor your portal’s security, functionalities, speed, UI, content, and compatibility with different hardware and operating systems.
When the website has passed all tests, you can schedule its launch and promote it on social media and other relevant channels. Devote around a few days before the launch so your development team can check for bugs and other concerns they might have overlooked. This way, when your website goes live, visitors will not encounter any trouble accessing any of the sections and purchasing your products.
Grow Your Business with a User-friendly Website
Having a user-friendly website benefits your brand in more ways than one. Positive experiences while browsing its sections or purchasing goods are attributed to your brand, not just the website. This can inspire customer loyalty. In addition, an online portal extends the reach of your business, allowing people to transact at any time and any location with a stable connection.
Building a user-friendly website can be challenging for individuals without a programming and design background. The same goes for brands without dedicated web design and development teams. If you don’t have the resources to hire in-house staff, you can do business with third-party providers that can construct and design your website. Work with a reputable web solutions provider to ensure the creation process is worry-free.
Soon, you will have a bankable digital revenue stream that can significantly increase your sales.