The evolution of Web design has seen many trends come and go. However, usability has always been the main goal of an effective website design. If your users can't find what they need, they will likely move on to another site that is easy to navigate. No matter how you approach your website's development, make sure that you always test your changes on a pre-production site first. If site speed or usability is affected, then the change is not worthwhile.
You've likely heard the old adage that 'Content is King.' However, once you have good content it's time to start focusing on usability. Usability is Queen, and it will affect every aspect of how long your users will stay on your site. Your bounce rate is mostly affected by your content, but if people don't find what they need easily. then they will likely click the back button and visit another site.
HubSpot conducted a survey that showed that 76% of responders felt the most important factor in a website design was how easy it is to navigate. Only 10% of respondents felt that the website's appearance was important. A further 9% wanted to see an interactive experience. The other 5% cited miscellaneous factors as most important such as membership options and search functionality.
Every page on your website needs to be accessible within one to two clicks from the home page. This may be a challenge on some sites that have a lot of content, but there are a few ways to go about doing this.
- Search: Using a search function can make it easier for people to find exactly what they want. If your site doesn't make it easy for people to search for content, then you need to integrate a search function.
- Navigation: The main navigation menu should direct to the most important areas of your site. This could vary based on your industry. If you're running a business, the contact page should be accessible from the main navigation menu. If you're running a blog, you can bury the contact button toward the bottom of the page.
- Graphics: Large images are not as important as you think. Don't use flash, lots of graphics or video on your website. If your website is an artist's page, then you may want to include a separate section where you host the artist's portfolio. But, keep the home page clean and fast.
- Limit Innovation: Don't get crazy with your website design. Use a basic layout that people understand. Have a top menu, a bottom menu and possibly some side menus. Overly creative layouts are going to cause confusion and will likely reduce your return visitor traffic.
Plan and Test
The secret to an effective website is proper planning. When you release a new
version of your website, you should have already been testing it for issues for
several months. If you're a small company, test your website on a
pre-production server and let your employees or friends provide feedback. Don't
worry if someone says the site isn't pretty enough. Concentrate on usability
first and then once you've got the layout down, you can begin to add visual
When you design your website, it's a good idea to pay attention to the laws outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is a section that is devoted to Web Accessibility, and this can help you design the website to match the needs of every user. Subtitling companies can often help you provide an extra layer of accessibility for certain demographics. Following these guidelines will help you improve your website and get it ready for the traffic your blog, organization or business deserves.
Don't make any changes to your website without asking yourself how the change will help your visitors get a better user experience. Design your website around what your customers need, and test your sales funnels to make sure that visitors are arriving and leaving on pages that help them get the information they need. These simple policies will help you design a useful and effective website.