The web used to be a great land of “build it and they will come” options. However, the proliferation of websites for every business venture means that your customers have many more options than ever before. A simple search for the topic of choice will direct an interested party to hundreds of websites. If yours is on the list, what is it about your site that will encourage users to stay longer, to look around more and, possibly, to buy your products or engage your services. Below are a few things that you can do with your website to make your website more user-friendly, and increase your odds of visitors hanging around a bit longer.
- Consistent Navigation – Having consistently placed and ordered navigation on your website makes it easier for visitors to find their way around your site. Navigation that’s always in the same place on your site, and links in the same order allow the user to feel comfortable in their surroundings. Navigating a foreign place is always stressful – eliminate that stress for visitors to your website.
- Well Organized Information – Most people agonize about the look and layout of their website but many people forget to consider how the information the site will present is organized as well. Also known as Information Architecture, carefully planning the organization and presentation of your site increases the ability for users to find the information they are looking for on your site. Make sure each page has a clear topic – and only one. Trying to fully inform a visitor about several topics on one page may confuse them and encourage them to leave, quickly.
- Clear Call to Action – Do you know what you want the user to do when they’re on your site? Let them know! And make it easy for them to do what you want them to. Do you want users to sign up for your newsletter? Have the newsletter sign up form located at the top of your page (preferably on the right side). Do you sell products on your website? Make it easy for users to add products to their cart, and easy to checkout.
- Use Common Terms for Common Actions – If you have a shopping cart, call it that. Or shopping bag or basket, or some other term that the average person will recognize. It may be tempting to come up with some cute or witty name for your shopping cart, newsletter, or other features on your site but if your visitors don’t know what they mean, it doesn’t do you any good.
- Write with the user in mind – Who is the target audience of your site? When you (or your copywriter) is writing to copy for your site, make sure you keep your audience in mind. What is their technical or educational level? Writing too simply may turn off highly educated or technically skilled visitors, while writing over the heads of less skilled or knowledgeable users could cause frustration and leave them searching for a website they can better understand.