Tuesday, May 15, 2012

4 Characteristics of a User Friendly Website

When it comes to websites, user friendliness is of the upmost importance. A website is interactive, which means in order for it to be successful, it needs to offer visitors a pleasant and stress-free experience. Doing so will greatly increase the likelihood of return visits, referrals, and overall business.

So how can you ensure that your website is user friendly? There are numerous factors, but the following guidelines will give you a solid foundation:

Intuitive Navigation

The goal of every website visitor is to find what they're looking for. Therefore, it's imperative that your website menu be simple, organized, and intuitive. Make sure the menu is consistent on each page, and name your links so visitors clearly understand what is being offered.

In addition, be sure to include "About" and "Contact" pages, as these are commonplace and expected by most Internet users.

Offer The Right Information

Every person who visits your website will be seeking information. They will also have certain expectations, such as to buy a product, learn about your services, or read your articles. Put yourself into the mind of your visitor so that you can anticipate their needs.

Also be sure to include basic information such as your business' name, logo, contact information, location, and business hours.

Don't Create Barriers

A few years ago, I visited a realtor's website to learn more about a specific property. But in order to view its listings, the website required that I sign-up as a registered user. What's more, the registration form required that I give my address, phone number, and other information that I did want to disclose.

Not only did they add an unnecessary step in order for visitors to access the content they were looking for (i.e. their property listings), they asked for certain information at an inappropriate time. In other words, they created barriers and an unfriendly environment.

Just Say No to Pop-Ups!

This includes pop-up ads, as well as those pesky pop-ups that appear as soon as a site loads. Usually, these types of pop-ups ask visitors to sign-up for a mailing list. It may seem like a smart way to increase your number of subscribers, but the reality is that visitors find it annoying. Particularly because the person has to close the pop-up before they can continue on to the site.

What other elements have you run across that made a website user-friendly? Or not user-friendly?

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