Yesterday, I spent more than an hour looking for a post on one of my favorite blogs. There was no search bar, no easy way to access categories, tags, or other archive pages, nothing to help me find what I was looking for. I had to scroll through endless posts until I decided to give up.
One of the first things I learned about web design is that it doesn’t matter how beautiful your site is or how great your content is, if your users can’t find what they are looking for. In order to keep readers on your site for longer, I have decided to show you 10 ways to make your site user friendly:
Let them know what your site is about
If you want to gain new readers, then your should tell people that find your through Google or Pinterest what your site is about. You can do this by adding a short bio on your sidebar or at the end of each post, by writing a good about page, implementing a ‘start here’ page or a home page.
Simplify your design
Get rid of those bright colors and crazy patterns. You should use light background colors, simple patterns and dark colors for text. If you like bold colors, you can use them in your logo or to accent certain areas of your site.
There seems to be a trend lately to make text as small as possible, but small text is hard to read and you might lose readers because of it.
Clean up your navigation menu
I always tell my clients that a good navigation menu has 5-6 pages. If you want to add more, you can always make a drop-down menu. A cluttered navigation may overwhelm your visitors and it makes it harder for them to find the important pages.
What you should keep:
- home page and blog page (if it’s different from your home page)
- about page
- services or shop pages if you have a business website
- 2-3 important pages or categories
- contact page
Don’t list all your categories in your navigation, you can add them in the sidebar or footer.
Organize your content
Using categories to organize your content will not only make it easier for your readers to find what they are looking for, but it will also help you create better content.
Don’t forget to break posts into paragraphs and use headings when possible. Readers often skim your posts in order to find information that is relevant to them. Adding headings in your posts will make it easier for them to find what they are looking for.
If your articles are too long, you should think about posting them in two parts or even make a series. Posts that are over 1000 words are better for SEO, but a lot of readers prefer smaller articles of about 800 words.
Make search bars accessible
You should have at least a search bar on your site. You can add it in your sidebar, navigation bar or footer. It will help users find what they are looking for if you have a lot of posts. Make sure it’s easy to spot, like at the top of your sidebar.
How to search through a website that doesn’t have a search bar: Did you know you can use the search function on WordPress blogs even if there is no search bar? It’s very simple. Just type ‘?s=keyword‘ after the site’s URL. Just like this: https://www.elancreativeco.com/?s=photoshop
Make it mobile friendly
I can’t believe that there are still websites out there that are not mobile friendly. A lot of Internet users read blogs from a mobile device, so it’s very important to have a website that looks good on all devices. If your site’s not mobile friendly, you can buy a new theme or hire a developer to help you.
Make your content easy to share
A lot of people like to add images to their Pinterest boards or to share articles on Twitter or Facebook. They can use a Pinterest browser button or they can paste your URL on Facebook, but you should add share buttons to make it easier for your readers to share your content. You can also add a Pinterest hover button over your images using a plugin.
Declutter your sidebar
There’s nothing I hate more than a cluttered sidebar. I don’t see the point of showing your latest Facebook posts or tweets if you only share your blog posts. Blogrolls are nice if you want to support your favorite blogs, but you should only do this if you don’t have many other things in your sidebar. If you have a lot of ads, make sure you don’t have many other widgets.
Here are a few things you should keep in your sidebar:
- short welcome message or bio
- social media buttons
- search box
- categories and/or popular posts
- Instagram/Pinterest/other social media widget
- subscription forms
Create call-to-action buttons
Call-to-action buttons help you guide your readers around your site. You can add them on your About page to point viewers to your services or on your services pages to point them to your contact page. You can also use them in your posts to guide users to older posts that might be helpful to them.
If you want people to take action on your site, you should make text links clear, add CSS buttons on your services page, or even change the way your cursor looks.
Improve your website’s speed
You can do this by using a well developed theme (like Genesis themes), by getting rid of plugins that slow down your site, or by optimizing your images. You should use images that are the same width as your post area. I always upload images that are 800px wide. Bigger images will only slow down your site. You can also compress them by using the ‘Save for web’ option in Photoshop or use something like TinyPNG to optimize them.
By implementing some of these strategies, you will create a better experience for your readers, it will keep people longer on your site, and thus lower your bounce rate. And hopefully they will come back to your site.
What do you do to make your site user friendly?