What is the single most important website design element? Hint: It’s not stunning visuals or a slick interface.
In a survey by HubSpot, 76% of the respondents indicated the most important element is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.”
Why is that number one? Almost certainly because so many websites are difficult to navigate. They make visitors leap over hurdles and jump through hoops to find what they want.
Here are six tips to help visitors easily navigate your website:
(1) Be intentional about the information hierarchy. The most important text and visual elements should be large, high up on the page and surrounded by plenty of white space. This immediately draws visitors’ attention, giving them a clear starting point on the page. Less important text and visual elements should be placed lower on the page and can be smaller in size.
(2) Use a descriptive, keyword-rich headline. The headline tells visitors they’re in the right place and helps with SEO. Clarity is better than cleverness here. If your nonprofit focuses on childhood literacy, a good headline would be: “How ReadingForKids improves childhood literacy.” If you still want to show your clever side, get creative with a subhead, but make it smaller and style it correctly: Heading 1 tag for the main headline; Heading 2 tag for the subhead.
(3) Provide content for both kinds of visitors. Many visitors will skim your content, hoping to find what they want with minimal time spent reading or watching a video. The most interested visitors have questions and will read text and/or watch videos until their questions are answered. So don’t be afraid to include in-depth content or to make a long scrolling page. But always put a quick synopsis at the top — and remember that most U.S. adults read at a 7th to 8th grade level.
(4) Ruthlessly rid your pages of clutter. Every bit of clutter is a barrier between visitors and the information they are trying to find. Force yourself to delete every non-essential text block and visual element.
(5) Use common navigation words. Visitors are used to certain terms in a navigation bar because they see those same terms on most websites. Don’t make them pause to puzzle over or guess at the meaning of an unfamiliar term.
(6) Keep your page designs familiar. While originality in general is a good thing, trying to be “different” with your website’s design can backfire. Visitors are accustomed to finding page elements in their usual spots:
- Logo at top left
- Horizontal navigation in the header
- Search bar at the top
- Social media icons at the bottom
- Mobile-responsive design
By following these six tips, you’ll ensure visitors quickly find what they came for.