Tag: branding

Is Your Website User Friendly?

Questions to consider to make a website friendly for your users

Banner-with-clearcut-logo and text: is your website user-friendly?
Is Your Website User-Friendly

 

When building a website, we all tend to focus on content and functionality, and that’s great! On the other hand, we can’t let functionality come at the expense of the experience of our users. If users leave your site feeling confused or frustrated, that will resonate with them, and that’s not how you want to be remembered. Every now and then, it’s important to audit our sites and make sure that they work from the user’s perspective, the way we think it should work from ours.

Now I know auditing our sites is never very fun, or at least it isn’t for me, but it’s a vital step to make sure that our users are leaving our sites both feeling great, and having done what we intended them to do while visiting.

Do you have any broken links?

Broken links that lead to dead pages, old content, pages with removed images, or just outright don’t do anything when you click them, arer your worst enemy in user experience.

It’s easy to end up with broken links on most sites, things change and update, content becomes irrelevant and is removed, and we all miss some of the links that lead to that content.

My recommendation is to make a checklist, something you go over every time you remove content or pages from your site, that helps you keep track of all the parts. This list is something you should make when you set up the content to start, what assets did you use, where did you put them, etc. If this isn’t something you’ve done from the start of your website process, fear not! Audit for broken links now, and start fresh.

Is your content up to date?

Content is the most important thing to your users, it’s why people come to your site, and why people stay or return. Content can be anything from articles to photos and videos, to products in your store. Make sure that content that dates your site, is removed at the appropriate time. For example, if you have a sale, make sure that sale banners and markers on your products are all removed the day the sale ends. Nothing is more frustrating to a potential buyer than clicking a sale banner and finding a page with no products on the other side.

If you want to have evergreen content that remains on your site indefinitely, make sure not to include references to dates or events that will clue users into the age of the content.

This is also a good place to look at the back end of your site. Do you upload versions of banners/photos/articles etc.? If so, you can keep your site tidier for yourself, and faster for your users by deleting superfluous copies of files once the project is complete and posted.

Are all your keys and certificates still valid?

All websites have keys and certificates that they use to function. Many of these you set up and forget when you build your website. However, things like google maps keys, RECAPTCHA keys, and others, frequently expire or age-out and need to be updated. If these certificates expire, it can result in broken maps, inability for users to log in, and many other issues that you may not notice immediately. Try to keep a list of certificates like this that your site uses, and when they expire. If you work with a web developer, ask them to give you a list of functions that require time-limited certificates and their expiration dates.

How does your site work for mobile and tablet users?

It’s now a reality for most websites that more than half their users visit the site via mobile device. Another approximately 15% of users will visit from tablet devices.

In truth, many templates for websites now come out of the box being compatible to these devices. However, we cannot trust that once our content and functions have been added to the site, that there will be no errors with viewing on smaller screens. Content flexes and reshapes our websites, and both while we’re building them, and when we add new content, we need to make sure that every user sees the content exactly as they’re intended to.

This can become especially important if you have advertising on your website. Many templates make themselves mobile-friendly by moving sidebar content to below the main content segment. If all of your ads are placed in the sidebar, they may only be displaying at the bottom of your site!

How does your site work for users with slower internet speeds?

We all like to do cool, interactive, polished things with our websites, but the reality in North America, and around the world, is that many places still only have access to mobile or modem internet connections. Perhaps you don’t have a global audience, and may not know that outside cities, there are still many people who do not have access to the internet speeds most of us in the web world are familiar with.

When it comes to serving these people, we need to consider optimization key. There’s no need to have that cover photo be 5000 pixels wide just because that’s what the graphic designer gave you. Make sure that all your images are at 72dpi, and that you’ve optimized any video and audio content for the web. In some cases this may be as simple as embedding something from YouTube rather than hosting it yourself. YouTube already has quality and speed options that the user can control, for example.

You can also use online tools like https://gtmetrix.com/ and https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ to analyze the speed of your website, and where you can make improvements. You don’t have to make a simple, boring site, but we can be intentional about where we spend resources to keep the experience smooth for everyone.

Does your user need to login? If they do, where does your site send them once they have?

This can be a simple consideration, but if your user needs to log in, make sure you know where the site redirects to once they do. Where you want this to be will depend on what you want users to do. Are they signing in to purchase something? They should be led to the main store. Are they signing in after already clicking into a product? They should be returned to that product rather than a main page. This applies to all sorts of login needs, but make sure there’s no pause in action or need to find their place once a user has signed in.

If you have a shop component, how does it work, have you done a transaction yourself?

When asking your users to purchase something on your site, you need to know that the process is both accessible and smooth. It’s not enough to just check your settings, when we expect users to trust us with their purchasing information, we need to know the exact process they are going through when they spend money with us. Are all their options for payment clear and understandable? Is anything in the purchase form in the wrong place? Do all of our menus work as intended? If you’re integrating with PayPal etc., is that transition smooth? Go through the process yourself, make a once cent test product and experience what your user experiences!

 

User experience is an ongoing project on all websites, don’t let users run into issues and complain before you find the problems! Keep your content fresh, and ultimately just make sure you know what your site looks like for a user, and you’ll have happy, satisfied, and returning users.

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5 key factors to consider when building your website

5 key factors to consider when building your website

Are you planning to build a professional website for your business, online store or personal brand?

This post breaks the process in to 5 chunks that you can plan separately to help direct the course your project.
You have probably heard many times how important a professional website is for your brand, on the other hand, researching “how to build a website” can lead to a healthy dose of information overload. This breakdown helps you categorize all that new information you are learning.

If you’ve done any preliminary research, you have discovered some of these advantages to owning your own website.

  • It lends credibility to your brand
  • Makes you easy to find and contact
  • Helps you engage directly with customers and your audience
  • Enables you to automate your marketing.

 

What’s my domain name and where should I host?

Your domain name is your digital address. This is the first step to getting the ever-important online presence. Follow this rule to choose a domain name, make it short and simple, because it is then easy to share and remember.

Your host sets up a web server for you, think of this as a computer on the internet that stores all the information used by your website. Your host provides the space and resources you need, like a landlord, to easily communicate and be reached online. These resources include storage space, email capability, some even provide backup and security management. It is the basic infrastructure that supports your website.

Hosting services usually provide you with an option for purchasing your domain name.
You can find a list of good hosting services in this review: https://www.hostingadvice.com/reviews/

Additional details to remember:

a. A hosting service sells domain names that easily connect with their own plans even though you can connect pre-owned domains to new hosting plans. If you already own a domain name, find out if it will connect well with your new host
b. Hosting services optimize for certain technologies For example, Bluehost has hosting plans will improve the chances of a great web building experience while using WordPress.
c. As with the domain names, if you are already using an email service like GSuite or Zoho mail, make sure your host supports integration.
d. To receive payments directly through your website, include an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate in your hosting package. For more information on SSL, read our post that explains it in detail.

What kind of content will I produce?

Think about the information you want provide to visitors. Is it mainly text, are you planning a blog, will it be images or videos? This information varies depending on the purpose of the website. If you plan to market a product/service or compel your visitor to do something, consider hiring a copy writer. If you need to sell or rent properties, hire a professional photographer or videographer.

What information do I need to collect?

Think about all the information you require from your users. This could be their contact information, their project information and budget or as simple as answers to a survey. To collect information of any sort from your users in a safe and responsible manner, you will require a privacy policy. This explains to your visitors, what information you collect, how you use it, how you secure it and how you share it (if you do).

What functions do I absolutely need?

A website is a powerful tool which, like any good tool, is most effective when designed to perform a specific task because it is focused towards resolving a singular issue. Determine the core purpose for your website. This helps to control the process and channel your resources when building your web project. In this step you want to consider all the ways your visitors might use your site and how it should help you serve them. Will they register for a service, book an appointment or just buy a product? More complicated functions include things like geolocation and cart tracking.

What is my brand identity?

Your design works with your content to send a message about your brand. You can design your website by drawing influences from your industry, target audience, and content. Decide what the colors, styles, fonts and backgrounds should be. This could be determined by details like your industry, audience or personal preference.

This is a simple approach to planning your next website project. It is a broad overview but a great starting point if you are stuck. These are the questions that I have found need to be answered when building a website. The answers can be very different depending on the size and complexity of your project. Whether you plan to do it yourself, use a web builder, or a professional, answering these 5 questions will make it an overall easier process. There are many services online that will help you build and manage a professional website. Not all services that handle these different aspects of a website work well together.

At Clear Cut Communications, we are professional website designers, developers and all-round technology enthusiasts, we understand every step of the process and enjoy fitting the pieces together. Whether you want to be involved in the build process or just want an elegant and efficient website within your time-frame, we would help to create a digital home for your brand that brings you results.

Contact us today to get started!

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