One of the most overlooked characteristics in modern website design is how well the webpage is designed to work easily, intuitively, and simply for the person visiting the website. This is called user ability and it should be at the core of a website’s design.
A website owner will often design a webpage to look beautiful. And it should look beautiful. However, it just is not enough to stop there. How often have you been left staring at the screen wanting to do something fairly simply - like find out how much something costs or where to click the Buy Button, only to be left lost and confused at the Harry of information on the screen, unable to move forward with your research or purchase?
It happens a lot.
You can have all of the web design inspiration in the world but if your users struggle to find their way about your site easily then it is performing below its potential.
So, how do we stop this from happening? How do we design a web page that is really easy to navigate and use by someone brand new to the site? Unfortunately, the designer of the webpage will find it really difficult because they know where everything is, they know how the flow of the site works, it is really obvious to them.
The answer is to do something called “User Website Usability Testing” before your website goes live. This sounds like a long, complex, and expensive task. The great news is that it is none of those things and you can do it yourself with ease.
Take a look at what the BBC says about it.
You need just a few things to carry out this user testing. The first thing is to place someone who knows nothing about web design and nothing about your website, and better still if they are at the lower end of the technical spectrum (an elderly relative would be good rather than a tech-savvy teenager) and place this person in front of your website.
The second thing you need is a pen and paper to log their progress.
Then, ask the user to carry out one of the normal tasks that you wish your site visitors to do. So, let us say that you have a sports website selling all kinds of sports gear. Ask the test subject to buy one tennis racquet and 6 balls.
You must also tell the test user to vocalise every single though that they have in their mind as they progress through the process. Your job is to leave them to it. Absolutely leave them alone while you note done each thought they give.
So the user may say “ok, where’ the search box. Right, I’ll put tennis racquet in the search. Now, where do I click to carry out the search? Got it. Right. Ah, lots of rackets have appeared, how do I find the one that I want? They are arranged so it’s difficult to see different brands.” Keep them talking all the way through the process right through to purchase, receiving the email receipt and reading it.
Get the idea? You need a few people to do this and then you can refine your website’s layout and process. You may find that buttons are too small, the wrong colour, too close together, or completely missing. This is all valuable information and the majority of these things are probably really easy to put right.
And it will not cost you a penny to fix it.
You can find out about the history of website design over at wiki.
It is very tempting to get your website up and running quickly by using a template. After all, you get a ready-made layout and all of the colour and font scheme is sorted for you which saves a ton of time and effort. What is not to like?
Well, the fact of the matter is that there is a lot to like. Really, why reinvent the wheel if the one you have is perfectly functional? Yes, it would be nice to have a completely custom coded website that is exactly to the design that you have in your head but that puts up the cost. Return to the homepage here.
There are some excellent templates out there. They have been developed and designed for many years now and they can do a sterling job of providing your visitors with an excellent website experience. You can change colors, fonts, and possibly some layouts, too, on many of them. You can add your logo and your own images and the text will be all yours.
The real trick is to get the right template. There are tens of thousands of them on WordPress alone and many more for Joomla, Bootstrap plain old Html, and more. Searching can be quite a task so be ready for some intensive hours in front of the PC screen or tablet.
I would advise you to be realistic in your expectations if using a template. You may not get exactly what is in your mind and you may find that it cannot easily be edited or recoded to change some minor aspects that you re not happy with. This is the compromise that you are making for speed and reduced costs. A templated website will not be perfect but it can do an excellent job if you accept its limitations.
Look at your own habits when you visit a website. What do you do? Do you read every word on the page? Most likely not. The vast majority of people scan a web page to look for the information that they are seeking to structure your web page with short paragraphs and plenty of headings. Break down information into easy to find blocks.
This will also keep your website visitors reading and user engagement is great for Google rankings.
Avoid Pop-Ups. Really. They are awful and people hate them. Add a form somewhere if you want to build an email list and keep anything regulatory at the bottom and out of the way yet simple to click if you need to get permission to comply with GDPR or whatever.
Finally, use white space a great deal. Oh, and one real bug-bear of mine, make the font large enough to read on any device. Far too many sites have tiny writing that is difficult to read you are over the age of 23.
Enjoy designing your site.