In last week’s video, I talked about one aspect of creating a user-friendly website, and that was having a mobile responsive website.
As a reminder, when I use the term “user friendly”, it refers to the experience you are creating for visitors to your website.
It’s the art of making your website simple and easy to use, and it’s incredibly important because the research shows that making it easy for your audience to find what they are looking for is the most important factor in a website.
Specifically, HubSpot reported that:
76% of consumers say the most important factor in a website’s design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.”
Let’s look at another component of creating a user-friendly website, and that is your website’s readability.
What is readability?
A website’s readability is a measure of how easy it is for visitors to read and understand text on a website. That readability depends on both how your text is presented (for example your chosen fonts, spacing, colours, contrast, etc), as well as the actual words and sentences that you use.
If you have provided your website visitors with:
- huge paragraphs of text
- a pale coloured font on a white background, and
- using overly complex language
Well friend, you’re going to get a failing grade on your readability, and it’s likely going to translate into lower conversion rates on your website.
In other words, poor readability equals fewer people reaching out to you to do business.
Content should be easy to see
Ensure that your fonts are large enough, that you have enough (but not too much) breathing room between your lines, and make sure that you have enough colour contrast for your text to be easy to see and read.
If you have a white or light-coloured background, you want to ensure that your text is sufficiently dark enough that it requires no eye strain at all to read.
For example, you can see in the image below how much easier it is to read the text on the left side than on the right side.
A white background with dark text is always going to allow for the most readability.
Content should be easy to scan
People don’t read, they scan.
You need to keep that in mind when presenting your website content by writing scannable content. In other words, you’ll want to pay attention to sentence length and line length, and use headers and bullet points wherever possible to facilitate at-a-glance understanding
In his groundbreaking web usability study from 1997, Jakob Nielsen showed that 79% of web users scan rather than read.
So, how should you adjust the presentation of your website text to allow for this?
Here are some ways to make your copy more scannable:
- Minimize your text and use images and other visual content to support your content.
- Use short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Use headings, subheadings and bullets to present your content rather than just big chunks of text.
- Keep your subheadings simple and meaningful – this will help your website visitors locate key points.
- Allow for white space in your content.
- Choose fonts that aren’t too small, and
- Choose font typefaces that are easy to read. Do not use script fonts for your main website content!
- Highlight key words and phrases in your content – for example, you could make them bold or perhaps link them to other relevant pages
Finally, you need to optimize your content for reading on mobile devices.
Given how many of your website visitors will be browsing your website on mobile, short sentences and paragraphs, and using headings and bullet points are even more important for readability on a mobile device.
Be sure to check over all of your page copy on a mobile device as well as looking at it on a desktop browser.
That paragraph you think isn’t ‘too long’ on a desktop browser may feel like a huge, difficult-to-read chunk of text on a smartphone.