User-Friendly Websites: 4 Essential Components

In a world where 53% of mobile visitors will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load, you can’t get by with a site that’s slow, challenging to navigate, or full of content that’s hard to read.

The more user-friendly your site is, the more your website will stand out from the crowd, helping you generate more traffic and keep existing visitors around longer.

Nail the Basics of Good Performance

Optimizing web page load times is an art and science unto itself—things can get very technical very quickly. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a network engineer to nail down the basics and “big wins” to help ensure your website loads as quickly as it can.

Hosting Considerations

Are you paying for the cheapest hosting you could find? If so, your website is likely sharing network resources with many other sites, which means your load times are probably not as fast as they could be. Investing in higher-quality web hosting can provide your site with its own dedicated network resources, which in turn results in faster load times.

Images and Media

Speaking of network resources: Do you have an image-heavy website? Or lots of audio, video, etc.? Media format and size both play a big role in load time, so it’s important to optimize where you can. Proteus Themes has an excellent article on image optimization to help get you started.

Another option to speed up load times for media-rich sites is using a “Content Delivery Network” (CDN). Although the name sounds complicated, CDNs are relatively simple to set up. Cloudflare is one of the most popular and has a great write-up covering the basic benefits of using a CDN.

Great Navigation Goes a Long Way

Is your site’s navigation menu organized and easy to read? How about on a mobile device?

Think about your site’s “greatest hits”—the pages folks visit the most. Whether it’s a page of contact info or a specific category of blog posts, make this content easier to find and accessible right from your site’s main navigation.

And don’t be afraid to use sub-menus when appropriate. Just make sure you’re using them thoughtfully so you don’t overload visitors with too many options.

Make Your Content More Scannable

Scannability is a huge factor when it comes to bounce rate: If your content isn’t structured well and easy to scan, visitors will abandon your site without reading.

Fortunately, making your content “scannable” is simple. Start by looking at how you use headers in your content:

  • Are they well-designed and sufficiently different from the body text?
  • Are you using them appropriately, with a logical, consistent hierarchy?

Next, take a look at the body text of your blog posts and pages to identify areas where you can use bold text, italics, pull quotes, bullets points (like the ones we just used above), or media to break up large blocks of content and make them more scannable.

For more detailed advice on structuring your content for readability, check out Yoast’s guide to using headings on your site and Hubspot’s comprehensive list of tips to improve scannability.

Don’t Annoy Your Visitors

We’ve talked about things you can do to increase the user-friendliness of your site. But don’t forget about the things you shouldn’t do—especially things that annoy visitors.

Don’t auto-play videos or audio (not even background music). Avoid pop-ups or alerts unless truly necessary, and even in these cases, go for the least invasive options possible. It should be easy to dismiss any popups or modal windows on every potential device.

Use your best judgement here. If you’ve been annoyed when seeing something on another website, odds are good your visitors will be annoyed if they see it on yours.

The Secret About “User-Friendliness”

User-friendly sites give you a massive advantage over your competitors—if your site is an enjoyable place to spend time online, people will be more inclined to purchase your products, inquire about your services, and share your content with others. Not only will this impact sales, it’ll also help boost your search rankings in the process.

So the secret about “user-friendliness” is this: It’s not only about the users. Making your site more user-friendly is good for you, too.