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10 Easy Steps To A User Friendly Website

As a busy search engine optimization consultant, I don’t have a lot of time to manage my website. But recently I learnt the hard way about the fickle nature of website visitors and the damage that having a user-unfriendly site can do to a business. Now I give my website usability much more priority than ever before.

Here’s what happened. I had written a research report late last year and was selling it as a downloadable e-book via the site. However, I was relying on an offline press release and links from other sites to lead visitors to the specific page from which the report could be purchased. Although this report resulted in considerable press attention, much of the media coverage did not include a link direct to my report page, or in some casese, even my website, meaning that interested parties were forced to conduct a search for my site.

It wasn’t until I received an email from a potential customer advising me that he had searched my home page and couldn’t find a link to the report that I had my “Duh!” moment. I had forgotten to include a link to the report page from my home page! My old website had no site map or site search tool either, so potential customers finally arrived at my site, only to click away in frustration after not being able to easily find information on my research report. Goodness knows how many sales I missed out on due to this oversight. Embarrassed, I quickly added a link to my home page and made a mental note to study up on website usability, pronto.

Since then, I’ve learnt that improving your website usability isn’t time-consuming, it isn’t expensive and it’s certainly not difficult. It simply involves common sense and dedication to the task. Here are 10 easy steps that anyone can implement to make their website more user friendly:

1) Create a Site Map

No matter what the size of your website, you should include a detailed, text-based site map, with a link to every page and preferably, a short description of what each page offers. An excellent example of a site map can be found here: []. The advantage of using a site map is that you don’t have to link to every page from your home page, but you should link to your site map from every page. Not only are site maps useful for visitors looking for specific information on your site, but they are great “spider-food”, meaning they are a way for search engines to easily find and index every page on your site.

2) Use a Logical Navigation Structure

When designing your site navigation menu, use logical headings and link descriptions. For example, “web site design services” is much more intuitive to a visitor than “Internet services”. Use Cookie Crumbs to show visitors where they are on your site at any point. These are headings you often see at the top of websites and search portals showing what category and page you are currently browsing (e.g. Home > Travel > UK > Bristol > Bed & Breakfasts). Guide Visitors to specific pathways throughout your site. You can do this using Call-to-Action links instructing visitors what page they should view or what action they should take next e.g. “Click Here to Order”, “Bookmark This Page”, or “View Our Catalogue Now”.