One of the most important aspects of web design is functionality. This term refers to how easy it is for visitors to use and navigate your website. You can have the best-looking website around, but if your navigation is too confusing, users are unlikely to stay on your website long enough to convert to customers.
In addition, Google values an easy to navigate website and will rank you highly in searches if your navigation is intuitive. Because website functionality is crucial to the success of your digital strategy, we’d like to go over some essential steps you need to create a great user experience.
DECIDE ON NEEDED WEBSITE FEATURES
To make a plan for the functionality of your website, you need to have a clear picture of what you want your website to accomplish. For example, you might want people to give contact information, schedule an appointment, make a purchase, or click to call you.
Once you decide on the purpose of your website, you can select the features your website needs to accomplish these goals.
For example, if you want people to provide contact information, you might have a button on your website that stands out and encourages them to get in touch.
If you aren’t sure what features you will need, a website designer and developer can guide you through your options.
Common features for website functionality include the following:
- Search page
- Site map
- Section templates
- User permissions
- Client database
- Events calendar
- Survey tool
- Email newsletter
- Email forms
- Products database
- Shopping cart
CHOOSE A WELL-DESIGNED HOMEPAGE LAYOUT
Easy to find menus and buttons are essential components to website functionality. Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and get a feel for what they are looking for when they land on your website and where they are looking when they get there. A clear and well-designed layout that is consistent throughout your website is key to highly effective functionality. The layout is where a great website designer really shines.
The average user will focus their gaze on your website in specific patterns. One such pattern is called a “Z” pattern, as most people tend to view images and text from left to right and top to bottom. A web designer can help organize your website to draw attention to the vital information and features you want the user to find.
A skillful web designer will also know how to make effective use of “white space,” or the blank areas on a page where there aren’t buttons or text. Navigational keys and important graphics need to stand out for users to find them, which means you can’t have a lot of clutter making it difficult for these important objects to be seen on a page.
Including the right amount of white space ensures that everything is well organized and easy to understand.
PRIORITIZE ESSENTIAL ITEMS INTO YOUR WEBSITE FUNCTIONALITY
For users to navigate around your website the way you want them to, you need to organize objects on a page in order of significance. The most important information should appear above the fold, meaning the user can see it without having to scroll down. Your navigation bar should appear at the top or left side of each page, followed by a headline or promotional text.
After that, it’s up to you to decide what is important and what visitors need to see first. Just make sure to include navigation to help them get back to specific sections if you have them scrolling down a lot on a single webpage.
INCLUDE A SMART RESPONSIVE DESIGN
No matter what features you choose your website to have, you will definitely want your website to be responsive. Responsive website design ensures that visitors will be able to navigate it easily no matter what device they are using.
Responsive website design also provides a quicker load time for your web pages, which will make the user experience that much more enjoyable. In addition, Google values a quick load time because they know this contributes to a great user experience. They will take this into consideration during user searches.
UTILIZE FEATURES WITHIN YOUR CONTENT
Your website content does more than just provide the meat for your webpages; it also helps guide visitors to the desired action you would like them to take. Be sure that content, such as blogs and photo galleries, are correctly displayed and include desired features to guide visitors toward conversions. These features might include a contact form after a blog post or an “add to cart” button beneath a product image.
OTHER ESSENTIAL FEATURES
There are a lot of things you can do to make sure the visitors to your website have a good experience. The aforementioned steps are very important, but you will also need to do the following to optimize website functionality:
- Have an easy to remember URL
- Update content consistently (Google loves to see freshly updated web content)
- Include SSL encrypted pages for transactions
- Look for essential plugins for your content management system (CMS)
In addition to things you want to include in your website’s functionality, there are also things you want to avoid. As you build your website, don’t launch any pages with incomplete features that don’t work yet. Broken links or buttons are infuriating and will almost always ensure visitors won’t return.
FIND A STRONG WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT TEAM AND MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
In the end, you will need to have a strong website design and development team to ensure your website has the functionality it needs to be successful. If you don’t have a team of your own, you can always look to a website design and development company.
Whatever your team looks like, it will be crucial for you to manage expectations and only utilize essential elements for achieving your website’s purpose. If you try to have your website do everything, it will not be very successful.