Important characteristics of a user-friendly website

Thanks to various modern digital solutions, almost everyone should be able to make a website today. But, if you are making a professional website, there are rules to follow if you want your visitors to return. A part of the entire philosophy about what makes a website good, or not, is its usability. It’s simply not enough that your website is just functional. There are important characteristics of a user-friendly website that are easy to distinguish. Sometimes, even at first sight. From visual design to content structure, you need to be sure everything is aligned with user expectations.

There are several important characteristics of a user-friendly website you need to know

An attractive website that is easy to navigate, understandable, and highly functional is the mere example of what user-friendly means. That’s why many companies are paying special attention to user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) on their websites. In fact, the entire teams are working on finding the right solution so their visitors can have the best possible experience while browsing its pages. If you can’t internally deal with wire-framing or prototyping, then hiring professionals is the only logical solution. Only with knowledge, you will be able to achieve a high level of user comfort and ease of usage. And in long term, increase the traffic, increase the number of returning customers, and improve conversion rates.

A design wireframe for a website.
Every design starts with good planning.

Here is the list of some of the most important characteristics of a user-friendly website and the best practices:

  1. Visual design
  2. Accessibility
  3. Website structure
  4. Navigation and menus
  5. Clearly recognizable elements
  6. Easy-to-scan content
  7. Technical performance
  8. Browser consistency
  9. Responsive design

1. Visual design

The first thing you notice when visiting a website is its visual design. There are many themes, styles, and industry-specific trends you can identify on the internet. But, no matter what layout you choose, user experience should be your priority. That why you need a close collaboration between designer and UX expert to get this right. An appealing design that’s not overwhelming to the eyes, clear, and concise. Also, without too many shiny effects that can be more confusing to the visitors. In general, a unique feature that will separate you from others is alright, but nothing too extravagant.

2. Accessibility

One of the major characteristics of a user-friendly website is its accessibility. Usually, it’s a set of instructions you need to follow so everyone can use the website without much effort. Especially, people with disabilities and similar constraints. For example, here is what to pay attention to:

  • Use alternative text for images
  • Subtitles in videos
  • Transcripts for audio
  • Keyboard navigation
  • Clear and scalable fonts
  • Proper formatting of the content
  • Convenient color schemes

There are millions of people who require your site to be accessible so they can use it. And you should focus on understanding their needs because both you and visitors benefit from this.

3. Website structure

Besides visual design, the content of the website should be properly structured. Headings should be clear, informative, and understandable. And the following text should be optimized and evenly distributed. If you have a text without structure, you are risking that your visitors will lose themselves in the content. Which often results in them leaving a website and searching for another one. Easily readable paragraphs of appropriate length with smartly implemented video material is a good practice.

4. Navigation and menus

When it comes to navigation and menus, their purpose should be simple yet effective. The entire interface should be intuitive enough so everyone can browse through your website with ease. The structure that allows your visitors to immediately recognize the functionality of your menu is the goal here. Usually, one main navigation bar, including sub-menus should suffice. Unless you need the additional navigation for a specific purpose. Also, the usage of hover effects is now a standard because it improves the feel of interaction. And, in some cases, even icons in the menu can prove to be useful and user-friendly.

5. User-friendly website with clearly recognizable elements

The user-focused design applies to other elements on the website as well. Before you place elements like buttons and links, it’s useful to define its usage first. Just like navigation, other elements should help in users’ decision making and learning about what specific element does. It’s not enough to be intuitive but they also need to be descriptive and recognizable.

For links, you will need a descriptive anchor text, often underlined or in a different color. Avoid generic descriptions. For Call To Action, it’s good if they are nested in a convenient and distinguishable button. You should also use a short and intuitive description. Additionally, don’t forget about the forms. Make them quick and easy to complete and submit without asking for information that you don’t really need.

A clear registration form on a user-friendly website.
One CTA per page is just enough.

6. Easy-to-scan content

When you pack all the content and elements on the page, they should be eye-friendly and memorable. Most visitors just need to quickly glance over the content quickly to find what they need. Not to mention that the attention span is short today. In just a few seconds, visitors will decide if the page contains something useful or not. Keep this in mind when formatting your content and designing the layout.

7. Technical performance

The loading speed of the website is an incredibly important factor for user-friendly website planning. If it takes too long for a page to load, visitors will probably lose interest and leave. Optimize your entire website to speed up the loading time. You can do it by reducing the number of widgets, plugins, and unnecessary scripts. Large images can also be a choking point for your website loading speed. Additionally, loading speed also important because it’s one of the ranking factors for search engines.

Testing a website loading speed.
Optimize your website for the best performance.

8. Browser consistency

Every website should be thoroughly tested for browser compatibility. Even though browsers are slowly balancing their differences, there are still potential problems when displaying certain elements. If you don’t test your website for this, it can negatively affect your overall website usability.

9. Responsive design for your user-friendly website

Today, mobile devices are taking over the internet. And this trend will only increase. People are spending more time browsing pages from phones than ever before. This means, that static websites are already a matter of history. Your website should be able to adjust to different displays for better usage. Even Google is using mobile-first criteria when scanning for ranking signals. For that matter, a responsive design, as one of the important characteristics of a user-friendly website, is an absolute must. 

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