While the look and feel of your website is important, most visitors aren’t coming to your site to evaluate how slick the design is. Instead, they’re coming to your site to complete some action, or to find some specific piece of information.
Adding unnecessary design elements (i.e., elements that serve no functional purpose) to your website will only make it harder for visitors to accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish.
Simplicity is your friend. And you can employ simplicity in a variety of different ways. Here are some examples:
- Colours – don’t use too many!
- Graphics – Only use them if they’ll help a user complete a task or perform a specific function.
Having intuitive navigation on your site is crucial for ensuring visitors can find what they’re looking for. Ideally, a visitor should be able to arrive on your site and not have to think extensively about where they should click next – moving from point A to point B should be as pain-free as possible.
Here are a few tips for optimising your site’s navigation:
- Keep the structure of your primary navigation simple (and near the top of your page).
- Include navigation in the footer of your site.
- Use breadcrumbs on every page (except for the homepage) so people are aware of their navigation trail.
- Include a search box near the top of your site so visitors can search by keywords.
- Don’t offer too many navigation options on a page.
- Include links within your page copy, and make it clear where those links lead to.
In addition to keeping your site’s navigation consistent, the overall look and feel of your site should be consistent across all of your site’s pages. Backgrounds, color schemes, typefaces, and even the tone of your writing are all areas where being consistent can have a positive impact on usability and UX.
That’s not to say, however, that every page on your site should have the same exact layout. Instead, you should create different layouts for specific types of pages (e.g., a layout for landing pages, a layout for informational pages, etc.), and by using those layouts consistently, you’ll make it easier for visitors to understand what type of information they’re likely to find on a given page.