Online Marketing Blog

Web design resources and news for small business owners in Snohomish and around the world.

A DIY test of your website's user-friendliness

A DIY test of your website's user-friendliness

We see a lot of websites that put customer experience on the back burner. But if you're a business owner in a service industry, your customers don't care about you-it's about what they can get from you.

Is your website bout you or about what your customers can get from you? You don't need technical savvy or marketing experience to put a critical eye on it. Here's a quick test for your site: does it easily answer the most important questions of your visitors?

A potential customer comes to your site with a specific question in mind. If the answer (or click to an answer) isn't obvious, usually the verbiage or the design of your site is at fault. Check out the symptoms below to further clarify the picture.

Symptoms of a design problem

Here are a few signs that your design is the culprit:

Your site feels busy

A site feels busy when too many things call for attention at once. Simple, right? Anything that your brain will try to process (colors,words, shapes, etc.)will divide your thinking power. A customer should be able to focus on their question. Anything else? Unimportant.

Lack of space can also cause the same overloaded feeling-a bit of breathing room goes a long way.

Your site feels random

A site feels random when visuals aren't used consistently or for a good reason. Good design clearly distinguishes between different areas and features of a site. A visitor should intuitively recognize where everything big (such as different topics) or small (such as buttons) begins and ends, like walking through rooms of a house.

There is unnecessary  "pop"

"Pop" has a place, but probably a smaller one than you think. If someone's on your site, they're already considering you. Make it easy for them to choose you by keeping things simple. A homeowner wants their plumber to be competent)–they don't care whether their plumber is artsy.

We see a lot of pointless pop through:

  • extra motion
  • busy background graphics
  • color overload

Symptoms of a content problem

You have to think when you read it

Your customers shouldn't have to ask what your statements mean-especially on the homepage. You should have bite-sized statements that the reader can easily process and act on.

There is a place for more depth of info-you provide more as a visitor asks for more(clicking into new pages, opening expandable content, etc)

You only read part of the text

If a skim of the text gives you what you're looking for, the rest of the text simply slowed you down. Page content needs to be concise and also avoid dividing the reader's focus.

Here are a couple common examples of what not to do:

  • Extra fluff: "Call us for a service you can trust".
  • The "you can trust" bit adds nothing. If the visitor's about to call, they don't need that extra (and flimsy) bit of reassurance. And if they want to validate your legitimacy, they'll look at your portfolio or testimonials, not the contact section.
  • Too many offerings: "We're your experts in interior and exterior remodel, home design, and new builds."
  • Compare to "Let's build your home". This second statement insinuates all of the first with just a few words. Is it as technically informative? No. But it's strong enough to cast the same net and it's much easier to read. It also discusses one thing instead of dividing attention by 3 or 4.

Go for it–the web is less cryptic than you may think!

While not a catch-all, looking for these common mistakes can help you get a good feel for the experience your website gives your customers. Don't discount your personal ability to assess; after all, you're a customer to someone else.