Improve Your Website With A Few Specific (& Easy) Changes

If you’re pretty sure your website could use a makeover, but aren’t ready to undertake a complete redesign, there are some simple changes you can make in the meantime to enhance things.

Today’s post is all about improving your website by aligning a few key things:

  1. Navigation
  2. Page length
  3. Bread crumbs
  4. Consistency
  5. Copy

To sum it up, today we’d like to give you some tips to improve your website’s user experience.

User experience design sounds kind of technical and like something you would need to pay a specialist to implement for you. And make no mistake, you certainly could.

However, their are some basic principles that are easy to understand and deploy right away, to correct website issues that might be working against you.

A pretty website is useless if people can’t figure out what to do or where to go.

To help you understand how user experience design works, consider this:

Have you ever watched a toddler easily master using an ipad or smartphone without asking questions or reading instructions?

It’s amazing, right? That’s because the thought and engineering behind the placement and flow of every button was considered from the perspective of the user—the most basic, uninformed user.

Incorporating user experience design into your website will help visitors easily and efficiently find the information or product they came for. It makes your website pleasing and effective; and it will help you take full advantage of the hard work you are putting into your blogging, SEO, and social media campaigns.

How user experience design can help your business.

Your website is the online equivalent of meeting someone in the real world. It’s a digital introduction between you and a potential customer.

Let’s say you invited a new friend to your home for dinner. The minute they arrived at your doorstep you wouldn’t start rambling about a bunch of random, witty, shouty things would you?

No, I imagine you’d welcome them in and show them around—to help them become comfortable and find what they need like: where to put their purse, a comfy place to sit, or the bathroom down the hall.

Your website needs to be just as welcoming and goof proof.

Improving the user experience of your digital home has the potential to attract new visitors, decrease bounce rates, increase engagement, turn newcomers into subscribers, and subscribers into customers.

Keep your website simple, be upfront, and make it easy to find the most important things.

This might feel a bit depressing, but studies indicate users simply don’t read web pages. They quickly skim from left to right for the information they are looking for—especially within the first five seconds of arriving at your site.

It sounds selfish, but when we look at any website—whether we’re aware of it or not—we want three main questions answered right away (because we’re busy and don’t have time to dawdle or dig):

  1. What do you do? (Does it match what I’m searching for?)
  2. Who do you do that for? (Is this for me? Or another type of person?)
  3. What will I get? (Specifically how will this benefit me?)

If you disregard answering these questions with clear graphics, copy, and page flow, your viewers will bounce.

A good user experience will help you answer those questions promptly, so the right people for your business will instantly feel interested and ready to explore more pages on your website

Here are 5 easy ways to improve your website’s user experience right away:

1. Simplify your navigation.

Your navigation titles should communicate exactly what is on those pages. Don’t overcomplicate your website by trying to come up with unique and novel ways to name your blog or work with me pages. Visitors who want to read your blog are most likely looking for a page titled blog. Don’t risk confusing someone by trying to be clever. Keep it simple.

You should also organize the tabs in your navigation in the exact order you want your potential customers to go through your site starting on the left.

Also, avoid tons of tabs and keep navigation drop down to a minimum. Less is more. If you have more than seven tabs in the main navigation of your site, you have too many.

Try to evaluate your navigation from the perspective of someone who has never been to your website before. What would they want to see, learn, or check out to get them more interested in working with you? Create your navigation tabs with that in mind.

Get the main navigation items in the top nav bar and place additional navigation in your footer if you need to.

2. Place your most important information above the fold.

If you want to engage new visitors quickly, don’t make them scroll to understand what you do, who you do it for, and what’s in it for them. It’s critical to convey this above the fold (the part of the page that appears in the browser before your visitor is forced to scroll down).

Your homepage banner is the spotlight of your site so make sure it contains relevant information to help people quickly understand they’re in the right place.

In the top area of each page on your website (above the fold) get right to the point.

3. Leave a trail of breadcrumbs.

Every page on your site has a specific purpose and your goal is to help people move effortlessly from page to page without needing to find your navigation bar to do so.

At the end of every page, make sure you have a clear action step or breadcrumb that indicates where the viewer should go next.

If you do have a long page (like my Happy Clients page), break it up by adding the same breadcrumb in several places. Give viewers the opportunity to expedite their exploration by directing them to the next page you’d like them to see, without depending on them to scroll to the bottom of a long page to click a button or link.

A simple rule I keep in mind when it comes to page flow and breadcrumbs is:

One page = One purpose.

The purpose of one page is to guide the viewer to another page without asking them to make a decision.

When visitors get confused about where to go next, often the easiest thing to do is...leave.

4. Be consistent with your design throughout your site.

In our well-intended efforts to appear interesting and impressive, often we over-complicate things by making each page on our site feel like a completely unique experience.

Consistency feels good, comforting, and easy.

Keep the tone, aesthetic, and layout of each page very similar. This will quickly educate people about how your content is arranged—which will help them find things easily.

5. Your copy needs to be easy on the eyeballs and quick to absorb.

Remember, people are skimming—especially when they’re new to your site. Your blog is a good place for longer copy. The rest of your pages should be simple and to the point. Of course weave in your personality, but don’t get overly clever.

Here are a few specific improvements you can make:

  • Avoid long paragraphs. Use bulleted lists where you can.
  • Script font is nice as an accent, but don’t overuse it. What you think is lovely, might be annoying difficult to read for someone else.
  • Stick with 15 or 16 point font size for your body copy. This is a readable size.
  • Try to keep your copy at about 50 to 60 characters per line. Big, wide stretches of copy overwhelm the eyes.
  • Use italics sparingly as it can make words hard to read. Bold text provides better emphasis when you need it. (I’ll admit, I struggle with this. I love using italics to add inflection to specific words within phrases).
  • Don’t underline words, unless they’re links. People are trained to associate underlined words with something they can click on. It feels frustrating to click on something that does nothing.

So there you have it! Our list of easy-to-implement user experience suggestions to clean up each page of your website.

All you really need to do is put yourself in your visitors shoes. Guide them exactly where you want them to go and let them know—as effortlessly as possible—what you do, for whom, and how it helps.

If you’d like us to look at your homepage and make a couple recommendations, let us know in the comments below! Be sure to include your url.

Deana Ward

Simple & Soulful Creative, Lincoln, Nebraska

Simple & Soulful Creative is a Squarespace design studio that helps solopreneurs + small businesses clean up their messaging + launch gorgeous (easy-to-manage) websites.

About The Author

Deana Ward is a Squarespace website designer, copywriter, and consultant who helps soulful entrepreneurs align their brands and set up efficient business systems—while guiding them to take simple, tangible steps toward their professional goals. Her warm, personal approach goes beyond website design. It includes one-on-one training, accountability, and idea decluttering—which empowers her clients to get up and running so much faster than going it alone.

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