By Matthew Beck
Your users are the reason for your website's existence, so it makes perfect sense to gear everything around them. If they find it easy to use they are more likely to stick around, more likely to get in contact or more likely to purchase something. There any many little things you can do to make your site more user friendly so let's run through some of the more important ones.
www. has become a relic of the past and is no longer needed on a modern website.
While most visitors will be hitting your site from a search engine, some might rely on their browser's history to find it again by typing the first few letters of your domain name. If your site starts with www., there's a good chance it won't show up.
www. is just a subdomain like any other and is treated as an entirely separate website to non www. by Gooogle.
If you already have www. in your domain name it's a good idea to remove it it, but don't rush into that without taking a precaution. For the sake of catching all possible visitors, it's best to add a redirect from www. to non www. so that they see the page they were expecting no matter how they try to access it.
Plain text is very well catered for on the web. Users on small screens or with bad sight can increase the text size. If your font is hard to read, a user can switch it to a default one. Dealing with huge desktops and tiny mobiles isn't an issue, text can re-arrange itself accordingly.
There any many tags text can sit within that give a clear description as to what sort of writing it contains.
Some tags might declare their content as 'top level heading' or 'paragraph', which is great for us humans make things nice and easy to read.
It's great for computer readers too. Search engines need to know what's being said as well as how each bit of text is used.
Those 'top level headings'? Perfect for a title in their search index.
This all gets completely ruined when text is placed within an image. Your search engine now has no idea that any text is even present.
Want to cater to different screen sizes? Chances are your text within an image will get blurry or cut off.
To summarise: never include text within an image.
It's always tempting to include a carousel on your website. On paper they sound great, including loads of content without taking up much space.
In reality though there's a problem. According to studies, users just don't have the patience or interest to stick around to see your carousel.
In other words, the only slide that gets any attention at all is slide 1. Every slide after that is wasted content that only serves to distract from your first slide.
The alternative? Spread that content out vertically. Modern web users love to scroll, so let them scroll their way through everything you have to offer.
A recent trend in web design is to throw users off their focus by having a pop-up appear while they browse the website. Normally these pop-ups have some sort of call to action such as a newsletter sign-up or displaying a new offer.
While these pop-ups might increase newsletter sign-ups, they really go against you when it comes to making your website user friendly.
As the user's attention has been disturbed, unless they were really interested in what they were reading there's a good chance that the pop-up will make them immediately leave.
There's another issue with having these pop-ups too - Google really doesn't like them. Expect a negative impact on your search engine rankings too if you decide to use them!
Modern web users are well aware of how to scroll through web pages to the point where even a slight change is easily noticed.
Adding any sort of 'scroll jacking' will be picked up on quickly and most users really aren't a fan.
Scroll jacking is where the speed of scrolling is changed, normally through some sort of plugin. Sometimes it will speed up or slow down the scrolling rate but in other cases can trigger an auto scroll, creating a system of 'pages' that must be seen all at once.
If you need to implement this type of page system then do so sparingly, consider releasing those scroll limits as soon as a user has been through them the first time!
I'm Matthew Beck, web designer, developer and owner of Lightspeed Digital. I create bespoke websites from scratch, working with any industry. To find out what I can do for you, call 01273 421702 or send me message at: lightspeed-digital.com/contact
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