We’ve all gotten used to simple-to-navigate, easy-to-understand website design. We’re so used to user-friendly sites that we probably didn’t even notice that they developed over the years. But the one thing that often hasn’t changed is our small business websites. And that’s a problem, especially if your site is hard to get around, or if your pertinent information is not presented up front. So think about it for a minute: can a brand new visitor click onto your site and find the info they need before they scroll? If not, you need to update your site.
What is user-friendly site design?
Websites used to present info like a magazine, with everything listed on different pages, and you had to know where to go to find what you wanted. It’s like that today, but not. Websites have begotten their own design niche based on how people use and navigate sites (this field is known as “user experience or UX”). As a result, site visitors expect certain elements in certain places, and they expect certain behavior when they complete standard actions. My favorite bit of a UX definition is
The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother.
How will you benefit by keeping your visitors “happy”?
Why should you care if a user is happy or bothered? For the one simple reason that if they can find what they need easily, they’re more likely to stay on your website to learn more. They’ll want to see more pictures, and learn more about you and your staff, and will even look to get questions answered, which may save you time at a meet-and-greet! And the longer they stay on your website, the more likely they are to contact you. Remember, you’re only one back-click away from a new client, so it’s better to keep them happy and ON your site!
Amy’s “One Scroll” Rule
What I am presenting here can be summed up in this one idea: if your most important information can’t be viewed before a site visitor has to scroll (on mobile or on desktop), you risk losing them. They’ll back-click right out and find someone whose site is easier, or has the information they need up top. See my article on “above the fold” design for more info.
Just think about this. Go onto any “big box” store’s website and see what can be viewed before you scroll or move your cursor. You can usually see who they are, what they do (or sell), how to reach them, their locations (or a link to their finder), and a link to your account or a cart. And that’s all before you need to scroll. These sites has mastered the art of user-friendly design (they’ve had to!).
Small businesses need to do the same thing. You need to present all your pertinent info at the top of your site, and then elaborate on the good stuff as you go down. This is not to say you should have no text on each page, but it should be placed with the most important information in the first place that visitors see it, which is at the top.
How can I make my site more user-friendly?
- In your header, make sure your logo is on the left and is clickable to go to your home page. This is helpful when visitors click to other pages and need to go back to your home page.
- Make sure your phone number and email address are in your header, on the right, and are both clickable. This is great for clients who are viewing your site on mobile. It makes it tons easier for them to contact you!
- Make sure your your most important information is at the top of your site and can be seen before a visitor needs to scroll. So your header should include who you are (logo and text if necessary), what you do (if not included in logo or text), where you do it (your major service locations) and how to reach you (clickable phone and emails). Below that should be a welcome and elaboration on the above (more info on the services you provide, the locations your serve, etc. THEN below that, below the fold, tell the rest of your story.
- Make sure your URLs (your page addresses) are easy to read and applicable to each page’s content. For example, your reviews page should be similar to petsitterdomain.com/reviews. It should be easy to read and understand. This catch people’s eyes when they’re looking at you in search results.
- Make sure your navigation is easy to follow. If I’m on your Reviews page, I should be able to get back to your Home page (or any page) without fuss.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. If folks have to change the size of a page when viewing your site on their phones or tablets, that’s a pain and they won’t do it. Most sites and builders now have responsive website design, but if you don’t know about your site, check Google’s Mobile-friendly test to be sure.
Here are some more tips for achieving a nice visitor experience on your website.
Websites have developed a certain form of design that allows visitors to find things easily. We all expect to find the most important site information at the top of a site, or before we scroll. This is not optional; it has become standard. Adding user-friendly design elements to your website will increase customer interactions and conversions.