Pretty much anyone who is involved in business is likely aware of just how important it is to have a digital presence in today’s business world. While there technically is the possibility that you could get by without a website, building a digital presence is certainly a lot easier if you have one. It’s not just enough to have a website today, however. You need to have one that is high quality. While there are a ton of different factors that play into having a high quality website, how intuitive your website is for site visitors is definitely one of them. Without an intuitive website, site visitors aren’t going to stick around for long. So what can you do to make your website more intuitive for visitors?
Make It Fast
So the very first thing you need in order to make your website more intuitive is to make it fast. Websites that take too long to load are never going to reach their potential. The longer you make visitors wait, the more of them will leave. If they leave, chances of them coming back later are slim to none unless they’re already familiar with your site, love it, and it’s just experiencing a technical glitch. If not all those factors are there, it doesn’t matter how awesome anything else you do on your site is. They won’t be around to see it. Optimizing your website for speed is up there on the list of the most important things you can do to improve it.
Create a Clean Look
You can have the best products and awesome site features, but if your site is too busy visually or if it breaks too much from convention, it’s not going to be intuitive. The best websites have a clean look and are consistent in regards to established convention. Think about it. Most of the time people spend on the internet is not spent on your site. The more you go along with established conventions, the more naturally intuitive your website will be. Consider some basic organizational elements. Logos should be located in the top left corner of the screen and should redirect to the home page. In navigation menus, “Contact” should be the last button on the right or on the bottom, depending on how the list is oriented. Contact information should be located in the footer, and text should be aligned left.
Make Navigation Easier
The search for information is what drives a lot of people to websites. Not every page a site visitor initially lands on is going to have the information they’re looking for, which means they’ll need to poke around your site a little more to find what they’re after. A huge part of making your site intuitive is making it easy for them to navigate. Start by making sure your typeface is easily readable. Don’t get too crazy with fonts and colors. From there, pick a navigation menu format and stick with it. Divide things into categories that make sense and make each element a clickable link.
Make It More Accessible
Part of the challenge of making a website more intuitive is taking into consideration users with different needs. In order for something to be intuitive, it must first be accessible. Hearing and vision disabilities can make sites that haven’t focused on accessibility much more difficult to work with. Given the sheer number of people who have disabilities that make internet use more difficult, making your website more accessible can make a huge difference, especially if you become known for being friendly to those with disabilities. Be sure to take that into consideration when making your website more intuitive.
Optimize Across Platforms
In today’s digital age, having a website and exploring the e-commerce side of doing business means that you need to keep in mind that not everyone is going to be viewing your website on a desktop computer or laptop. About 87% of users browse on more than one device in the United States. It’s pretty frustrating to use a smartphone to browse the web only to come across a website that isn’t formatted for mobile use. As you design your website to be more intuitive, make sure you take into account how it will look on a phone or tablet, and how intuitive to use it will be from that perspective.
Scroll Vertically or Horizontally – Not Both
In many instances, keeping things simpler is better, at least if your goal is to make your site more intuitive. It may seem like a small thing, but picking one direction for site visitors to scroll is important. Either have them scroll vertically or horizontally. It’s generally more in line with convention to scroll vertically, if for no other reason than that’s what’s easiest to do with a mouse. Horizontal scrolling can work, but should be done with care.That said, whichever one you choose, avoid using both. It’s not as intuitive. Once you’ve made your decision, make sure that the scrollbar is visible. This is an obvious signal to visitors that they should scroll down the page.
Keep the Design Consistent across All Pages
Creating a clean look isn’t just about keeping the design visually appealing (e.g. avoid clashing colors and use white space correctly). It’s also about keeping the design of your website consistent across all of the pages on it. If you’ve done a good job of making your website consistent on every page, it doesn’t matter what page a site visitor goes to next. They’ll already have an understanding of where things are and how to find what they’re looking for. All it will take is a visit to one, maybe two pages to get a feel for what to expect. In short, consistency is integral to intuitiveness for websites.
Add a Search Feature
Sometimes even the best planning doesn’t account for human error. Whether a site visitor is just having an off day or they’re tired enough they aren’t quite thinking clearly, even the most intuitively organized sites aren’t intuitive enough for everyone to always be able to find what they’re looking for just by poking around a page or two. People aren’t going to stick around if they can’t find what they’re looking for. You can circumvent that problem by adding a search feature to your site. That way it should be easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for on your site by just typing in a few keywords. At a minimum it ought to narrow down the places they have to check to find what they’re searching for.
Think about Who You’re Designing It For
It’s important to remember that what is intuitive for a web designer or someone who is intimately familiar with your business may not necessarily be intuitive for the average site visitor. In other words, what is intuitive to you may not be intuitive to those visiting your website. You must keep that in mind when designing or making improvements to the website. It’s also an example of why it’s such a good idea to have other people test your site out before you make the changes or adjustments live.
Making your website intuitive for site visitors is certainly something that can be easier said than done. Just about anything worth doing in life takes work though, and that’s definitely a philosophy that applies to designing and running a successful website. Even if it takes some trial and error, invest time and effort into making sure your website is as intuitive for visitors as possible. You’d better believe that your bounce rate will thank you for it.
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