31st May 2016 | Blog, Latest Articles

There is more to creating a great website than simply making it look good. The best websites in the world share similar traits that we can all learn from and apply to our own work.

Implementing these changes will improve the usability of your site, and provide a better service for your users.

1) User-friendly design

User-friendly design is all about predicting how users will interact with your site. Unfortunately it’s not an exact art, and might require some changes later as you learn more from users and their experiences with the site. That kind of information can be obtained from studying data from Google Analytics.

But when you’re starting out, all you can do is look at other popular, well-designed sites and learn from their work. It’s also important to note that certain design choices work well in some niches, but fail in others.

You also have to take into account what platform they will be accessing your website on. Desktop PC or a mobile device? And mobile devices differ in size and operating system, from tablets to the large variety of mobile phones available today.

Navigation

The layout of your user interface (UI) is the backbone of your site. Users need to be able to easily find whatever information they’re looking for. That’s easy enough if you have a portfolio website with only a few pages on your site, but what if you have a complex eCommerce site with thousands of products, multiple categories and more?

Mobile-friendly

With mobile devices becoming increasingly popular, you should be focusing on mobile-friendly designs for all your sites (not just for better navigation, but for SEO-purposes too LINK).

Take into consideration that mobile users mainly use their thumbs to navigate their phones. Clickable elements should be larger and be surrounded by enough space in order not to click on the wrong link or object.

You’ll find that Call To Actions (CTAs) are increasingly moving towards the top of a page as designers want them placed above the fold for increased visibility. Mobile users are on the go, and have limited time to view content and make decisions. It makes sense then to create an easier and faster experience for them, especially in terms of eCommerce websites.

2) Designing for performance

Speed is a crucial factor for any website. If a user finds a site loads too slowly, they’ll close it and move on to another site – which can be devastating if your main source of income is your website. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how quick your website is.

Break it down

Behind the scenes, websites consist of many scripts and CSS styling files. The more there are, the slower your website loads. But it’s not necessary for all these files to load at once when a page is viewed. A CSS style can consist of hundreds or thousands of lines, why not then create a base stylesheet for the main components of your website, accompanied by other CSS files that only trigger when viewing specific pages?

This breaks the work into smaller parts, and makes your website work less – all improving your overall load times.

Simplify Code

Review your JavaScript and CSS files every few months, and see where you can clear up code. You might have learnt a simpler technique to execute certain functions, or maybe some functions are no longer necessary. Duplicated code might also exist.

Media

Video and images are great visual assets that draw the eyes of users, but they might also be slowing down your site significantly – to the point that users abandon your site and go to competing sites.

Upload similar images but in varying sizes that cater to different formats, and implement scripts that identify what size screen your site is loading on, and then chooses the optimal image to load for that platform.

3) Be Visual

Images are the best way to communicate with people, as they can communicate a concept up to 60,000 times faster than text. So choosing the correct visual elements is important to draw visitors and keep them on your site.

Images

Using high-quality images is obviously important.

But in these times where stock images are readily available, paid or free, how much do you stand out in the crowd?

Yes it’s tempting to purchase stock images to quickly use on your site. The only problem is that these images aren’t truly unique, as anybody has access to them. If you have the budget, we recommend hiring a photographer to create unique assets that stand out from the rest.

Consistency

You want to create a consistent experience for your users – general formatting, typography, images or your use of icons.

Users feel more comfortable in a familiar experience.

You’re probably thinking that these points are quite obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people or agencies disregard them.

If you focusing on implementing these three techniques, you will improve user experience and draw new visitors.