Most User Friendly Websites’ Qualities
The elements of a website with good usability are woven into the features used by visitors to the site. For example, navigational features, typography and images are all a part of what make a website either great, or not-so-great.
The first rule of usability is to remember that websites, though online, still read in the traditional left-to-right format. Placing your logo in the top left-hand corner is a plus, and enabling it to link back to the home page of your website is even better. You will notice this on practically every website. Well, at least every user-friendly website.
Navigational features contribute greatly to usability. Think about what you like and dislike when you are visiting a website. Invite your users to engage with your website by offering clear directions around it. It’s also important to keep the navigational system the same on every page to avoid losing users.
Consider these examples of strong navigation features:
Johnlewis.com: The menu bar runs across the top, their sub-menus appear swiftly, and all the options are presented clearly with clarity of what users will find in each section.
Trunki.co.uk: With a wealth of child-friendly products, each one is featured in a left-hand menu column with a corresponding image. These links take the user to a page dedicated to each product with easy access to every subsequent product in that category. Plus, the products are for children so the website is, naturally, aimed at children (and their parents), with bright and cheerful colours.
It seems obvious to most people that a website should be pleasing to the eye… but you’d be surprised how many people seem to disagree with what “pleasing” means.
Consider the overall look of everything you include on your website. Your navigational system could be phenomenal, but if you choose clashing colours or distracting characters, you will likely discourage users instead. Aim to make your website look professional but interesting. Background images, icons and colour palette will all contribute to strong usability.
Typography (or font) is also a crucial element. Users can spot a cheap MS Word font knock off miles away. Pay attention to the style and size of your font. Older users will generally prefer a larger font while web-savvy users will like a concise but clear font.
You can even add a function to allow text to be resized by the user in order to be accessible to everyone visiting your page. Make your headings stand out and your links obvious, whether links are in a different colour or simply underlined. Make sure users know where the links are on your website.
Check out these websites that offer both a pleasing visual appearance and functionality and they are good example of a user friendly websites:
Nowness.com: A great example of clear and interesting use of font. The headings are interesting to look at and the size of text is appropriate. Starting each written feature with an oversized letter is pleasing to the eye and engages the reader.
Wonderwall.msn.com: Wonder Wall is a celebrity gossip website that keeps the engaging look of a tabloid but incorporates functionality. The user is greeted immediately by images of celebrities in a grid-like layout with clear tags and story previews so the user can easily choose where to navigate to.
Sundance.org: Images are a key element of this website. Images are used to promote, rotating through film stills to encourage interest in the film festival’s features. Along with clear navigational elements, this website uses a site map and information bar along the bottom of the website to provide the user with easy access to information.
There are some really beautiful and well thought out websites on the internet. It’s easy to engage your users by providing a clear and functional website that is pleasing to look at. Put functionality first, then work on the aesthetic, and you’ll be on your way to stronger usability.