It’s a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon and you’ve done all your chores. Now it’s time to sit in your favourite armchair and indulge in a little bit of television viewing. And oooh look, there’s a new cookery show on, promising to show you how to make easy-but-delicious meals. Perfect!
The TV show gets underway, but rather than relaxing you, it’s irritating you. It’s full of zany camera angles and bizarre zooming in and zooming out. Obviously the producers have decided that their cookery show needs to be a different to all the others… but this is just making you dizzy!
You can’t focus on what’s actually being said.
In frustration, you flick over to another channel.
Websites are no different
Just as you expect a cookery programme to be filmed in a certain way, websites are created in a certain way. The internet has been around for a while now, and people have become used to websites having a standardised layout.
Deviating from this standardised layout won’t do you any favours; it’ll just confuse people. So don’t be tempted to re-invent something that’s become the norm, simply because you think it’s “boring”, or want your site to be different.
If you want happy website users, don’t make them think!
Well, don’t make your website users think ABOUT your website – make them think about what you’re saying! Unusual layouts are just too distracting, and will most likely irritate viewers. Instead of changing TV channels, they’ll go back to Google till they find a site that’s more user-friendly.
How can you make your website user-friendly?
1. Logo in the top left hand corner. That’s where people expect to see it, so make sure that’s where it goes.
2. Hyperlink the logo to the home page. This makes it really simple for web visitors to navigate back to the home page if they’re lost. Many readers expect this functionality, and it’s quite irritating for them if this isn’t set up on your website.
3. Navigation menus. On most brochure-style websites there should be just ONE navigation menu, either horizontally across the top, or vertically down the left hand side. Period.
4. Easily-located contact details. As well as having a separate “Contact Us” page that’s labelled “Contact Us” (don’t be smart and call it anything too different to that), it’s wise to put your contact details on every page, too. There’s no such thing as making it too easy for a prospect to contact you. Plus many of your existing clients may go to your website to look up your phone number – so don’t make them click to find your details.
If you follow these four steps, your website will be well on the way to being customer friendly. And don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these usability rules: it is surprising how many websites ignore at least one of these. Yet websites that are easy to use are far more likely to generate sales or enquiries – and that’s exactly what we want!
So don’t be tempted to engage the website equivalent of zany camera angles and other techniques that’ll make your customers dizzy. Stick with the recipe that works.