How to Make a Website User Friendly
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - July 20, 2020
Here are some scary numbers:
- On average, visitors to a web page will read 28% of the words on the page.
- On average, a visit to a web page lasts less than a minute and visitors usually bounce in 10 to 20 seconds.
With depleting attention spans, it is difficult to keep users interested in a website. To maximize the chances of getting high traffic and high revenue, a user friendly website is absolutely non-negotiable.
At first thought, user-friendliness may be subjective but there are certain features that certainly help to ensure better user experience. Think of these five features as absolutely mandatory for any website to be considered worthy of visitors’ attention. In other words, don’t release a website that does not include these qualities.
Now, let’s begin with the list of must-have elements to make a website user friendly:
After landing on a homepage, a user will naturally look to the navigation to get a sense of the site structure. A good website ensures that the site is structured for easy navigation, and gives users a clear sense of what they can access, and from where. Additionally, the navigation bar should be constant throughout the site, on every page. Ensure that it serves as a tool that guides the user’s journey through the site.
However, take care to not clutter the navigation bar with too many categories or items. An overly bulky bar is harder to operate and doesn’t look too great either. Also, the bar should be in the same location on every page to minimize user effort.
The best way to implement user-friendly navigation is to conduct A/B testing with different menu locations, tab arrangements, and content. Find out which version users prefer and implement that in the final release.
There are currently 3.9 billion unique mobile internet users worldwide, which is 51% of the global population. More people use their mobile devices to access the internet than desktop devices. Additionally, Google uses mobile-first indexing, which means that the mobile version of a website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their index. It is also the baseline for determining search rankings. The lack of a mobile-friendly site could negatively impact site rankings. Any site offering a better mobile experience would potentially receive a rankings boost even for people searching from a desktop device.
Once a mobile-friendly version of a site has been designed, it needs to be tested for bugs when accessed via real mobile devices with real mobile browsers.
Cross Device Compatibility
More than 4 billion people access the web through combinations of:
- 9000+ distinct devices, shipped with
- 21 different operating systems (vendor + version), along with
- 8 major browser engines that power hundreds of browsers
To maximize its chance of success, a website should be optimized for access from as many unique devices as possible. This can be challenging since new devices are being released with increasing frequency. Unless testers have access to a constantly updated device lab, it is best to go for a cloud-based option offering real browsers and devices on demand.
BrowserStack does exactly this, by providing 2000+ real browsers and devices available for testing via a functioning internet connection. Sign up, log in, pick the device-browser combination required, and start testing for free. This applies to both manual and automated testing.
Fast Load Times
- 53% of website visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.
- 40% of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to load before abandoning it.
Needless to say, website speed is a major factor in user-friendliness. The faster web page loads, the more it contributes to user satisfaction. And there is plenty one can do for the purpose of website speed optimization. Refer to this article on How to Increase Website Speed for ideas.
After implementing measures for website speed optimization, one has to check on website speed to ensure that it is actually worked as desired. Furthermore, a website might not load at the same speed on different device-browser combinations. To determine accurate website speed on different devices and browsers, use a tool that accurately measures the same by using real browsers and devices.
BrowserStack’s free tool, SpeedLab allows users to measure website page speed with a single click. Simply enter the relevant URL, click Start, and get a detailed report of how the page renders across a multitude of devices. Run a Free Website Speed Test on SpeedLab to evaluate how a website performs in real user conditions.
A website should render perfectly and function flawlessly, regardless of the screen size or viewport of the device accessing it. This calls for responsive design, which ensures that the website reorients itself to adapt to the current screen size – text and images automatically reformat and resize themselves so that they are easily viewed and spaced correctly.
By implementing responsive design, developers ensure that users can view a site in optimal conditions, no matter what device or browser they are using to view it. Much like the real device testing mentioned above, responsive design should also be tested on real devices because the site is made public. BrowserStack’s responsive design checker allows them to monitor how a website renders across the screens of the latest and most frequently used devices. Enter the relevant URL, click Check, and check how a website’s responsive design fares across viewports.
Clear Calls to Action (CTAs)
Actionable websites are the most powerful. CTAs should be upfront, combining a clear point with the right link.
Have a look at WWF’s page on “Why should we save the tigers?” The CTA (Donate) is placed in three different locations on the page, one of which moves as the user scrolls. However, none of the CTAs are obtrusive, and they do not disrupt the flow of content or try to divert the user’s attention away from the content.
CTAs should be easy to find, well-placed on every page (as necessary) and be part of an easily executable end-to-end user action. Additionally, the CTA must set clear expectations. No one should find themselves on an event registration page when the CTA might have led them to believe that they would be donating. The text should be readable, and in a contrasting colour as opposed to the button. Don’t overwhelm visitors with multiple CTAs on a single page.
A website has very little chance of keeping users happy without the aforementioned articles. User-friendliness is absolutely non-negotiable because no matter what it offers, it will have thousands of competitors offering the same product or service. Each site has to strive for providing the best possible user experience, and this article offers five pillars that would help developers, designers and testers offer the same.