Is Your Website User Friendly?

7 questions you can ask to determine your website's user friendliness

Smiling woman using a tablet
A website that is easy to use makes for a good user experience.

There is a very simply truth when it comes to website success - if you want people to use your site, you need to make that site easy to use. This is why one of the most common requests I hear from clients when discussing plans for their new website is that they want it to be “user friendly.” This is clearly a logical goal, but being able to determine whether or not your website is, indeed, user friendly is often a difficult task. Making this even more of a challenge is the fact that what may qualify as "user friendly" to one person may not be so to another. 

The best way to establish a site’s user friendliness is to conduct professional user testing. This is not always possible, however. If budget, timeline, or other constraints are preventing you from doing actual UX testing on your site, you can still make some high-level assessments to determine if it meet the basic standard of user friendliness or not. Let’s take a look at 7 questions you can ask during this assessment.

1. Does It Work Well on All Devices?

On today’s Web, visitors are using a wide range of devices with a staggering variety of screen sizes. In fact, globally more traffic comes to website from various mobile devices  that the traditional "desktop" computers. For a website to be user friendly, it must accommodate each of these devices and screen sizes with an experience suitable for each.

Multi-device support means much more than just having the design “fit” on smaller screens. A website that was designed for large desktop screens can scale down for the small screens of mobile smartphones or scale up to accommodate larger, oversized screens. Just because the site appears on those different screens does not mean it provides an acceptable user experience. however. A site that is built with a responsive approach and which focuses on delivering the best possible layout and experience for users on the device that they are using at that moment is a key step in establishing user friendliness. After all, since you cannot control which device a user will have, your focus should be on ensuring that the experience works great regardless of which device choices they make.

2. Does It Load Quickly?

No one wants to wait for a website to load, regardless of which kind of device they are using or what kind of site they are visiting. As sites become more and more bloated and weighed down by different resources (images, Javascript dependencies, social media feeds, etc.), their loading time is impacted negatively. This makes for sluggish, slow loading websites that frustrate and often drive away visitors. This can cost your company real business and have a negative impact on your bottom line.

Access your website on various devices to see how quickly it loads. You can also use third party testing tools to evaluate your site’s overall speed and performance. Once you have a picture for how your site stacks up currently from a performance standpoint, you can make the necessary adjustments to improve that download speed and performance. If you are working on a brand new site, make sure that a performance budget has been created for those webpages and that you are adhering to that budget.

3. Is The Navigation Intuitive?

A website’s navigation is like the control panel for that site. That navigation is how visitors will move from page to page or section to section and how they will find what they are looking for. Navigation that is clear and easy to understand and which prioritizes what is most important to a site's visitors allows people to orient themselves quickly. This is important, because if a visitor does not know what to do next, you introduce confusion into the experience. This is bad and it usually leads to a customer leaving the site to look for a competing website with a more intuitive, easy-to-use navigation scheme. Make sure you navigation is clear, consistent, and as streamlined as possible.

4. Does It Have Quality Content?

There is a popular saying in the web design industry - "Content is king." While every web designer working today has heard this mantra, very few people consider content quality when they assess a website’s user friendliness. That content is absolutely an essential ingredient in a site’s success and how users perceive the site.

People come to a website for its content. Whether that content is the products you sell from an Ecommerce store, the news or articles you are publishing in a blog, or something else entirely, content must be relevant, timely, and useful if it hopes to support a good user experience. If the content is weak or worthless, not much else will save that site and make it a success.

5. Is The Text Easy to Read?

The quality of a site’s typographic design is another factor in determining site friendliness. If the content on your site is hard to read, you can all but guarantee that people will not make the struggle to read it. Text should be an appropriate size and contrast to make reading it easy. It should also have adequate spacing and use fonts with letterforms that are easy to distinguish.

6. Does it Have An Enjoyable User Experience?

Too often people focus only on making a site easy to use. They ignore the benefits of creating an experience that is both intuitive and enjoyable. A website that creates a fun, enjoyable experience is often a memorable one, which is a positive for that visitor and for the company.

When evaluating a website’s user friendliness, understand that ease of use comes first, but do not discount the benefits of adding a bit of delight into that experience as well. That bit of "fun" will elevate a site from merely being usable to being memorable - which will, in turn, encourage people to visit again or share the site's URL with others.

7. Is The Site Search Engine Friendly?

Most people equate a site that is optimized for search engines as being a benefit to the company for whom the site is for, rather than the people who will use it. This is not true. Of course, a site that ranks very well in search engines is a boon for that company, but it also benefits visitors to that site by making it easy for them to find content that is relevant to them through that search engine query.  You help your site by helping your customers find it more easily. That is a win-win for sure!