Making a Website User-Friendly
Automatically user friendly
Very often website owners believe their website is somehow “automatically” user-friendly because of their
website designer when in reality it's not. Or they think they have a lot of experience, or “know” how users think,
or even that it’s just “common sense.”
In my experience “common sense” is a rare
At its simplest there are 3 stages to the process, Investigation, Design and Auditing.
This is the initial planning stage where you should research, analyze and understand the requirements of your
web business and web site, determine the user requirements and establish any assumptions and constraints.
This first stage is one many site owners skip over in a rush to get to the design stage. In doing so they miss
out many crucial steps in the process which often leaves them with an unworkable web business and poorly designed
The early investigation stage is the one I have concentrated on in the Website Health Check which if you take it you will
hopefully see just why this stage is so important in the creation of your website and web business.
In this 2nd stage the aspects learned in the investigation stage are used to produce a web design that satisfies
the requirements established during stage 1. Many of the essential design aspects that need to be considered are
covered in How user friendly is your website ?
When designing your user friendly web pages you need to constantly ask the question:
"Can the page be simpler without losing what it's designed to
In addition you should think about every element on the page being there for a reason:-
- Does it convey important information ?
- Does it contribute to the marketing message or branding ?
- Does it help your visitors to know they are in the right place ?
- Does it help your visitors to know they can get what they want ?
If any element of the web page does not contribute to 1 or more of the above 4 reasons for its existence, it
should not be on the web page.
The success of any user friendly web page can be summed up as:
Success = Attention divided by Distraction
For a web page to be successful in its objective of getting a visitor to take the action you want it first needs
to get the visitors attention. The visitors attention is distracted by stuff on the webpage that has no reason to
"The more "Distractions," the more "Attention" is divided and
"Success" is reduced"
At this 3rd stage you and/or your web designer should carry out web usability testing to validate your web pages
are user friendly and so is the website design as a whole. Any problems and issues discovered should be used as
feedback into the investigation stage to result in a rethink and redesign of affected elements.
The process of web auditing, web usability testing, redesign and retesting can be repeated several times as each
aspect of the design takes shape. The web design analysis includes the navigation, error message checking, form
design, payment processes, help and contact pages and all other key aspects of the design.
You should also keep in mind web evaluation and web auditing should not be done just at the end of the
"Most value and benefit is gained in the early stages of the site’s
Resolving web design issues on paper before a line of code is written or a web page created can be done in
minutes or hours rather than days or weeks. Things often take longer to remedy if left to a later stage in the
development of the site.
In my experience it can be difficult to get website owners to understand the value of this web evaluation and
web auditing stage because they want to see the end result quickly.
The failure to invest enough time at this stage often means the web site has to be revisited and redesigned
after it’s built and launched.
This becomes a much more expensive option for the site owner, both in terms of the cost of rework and time but
also the loss of revenue that comes from a less than optimal web site.
More on this can be found in user friendly web pages make more sales
More about website auditing can be found in taking a website audit
Website Audit Expert