Are you wasting your website users' time?

Are you wasting your website users' time?

Tue 13th May 2014

People hate having their time wasted, with constant demands on our time we are constantly under pressure to get things done as quickly as possible. The internet is a great tool to find information, services and products quickly, but it can also be a massive time vacuum. Every minor inconvenience on a website adds up to more time wasted, or worse for you if it is your business website, your user becomes fed up and goes elsewhere.

Slowly, slowly...

Poor website performance or slow loading pages is an obvious example of wasting your users’ time. If a website is slow, your user will quickly get fed up and go elsewhere. Increasing broadband speeds made it easy to be lazy about website performance, but now that increasing numbers of users access the web through mobile devices through 3G and 4G it is an issue with a new set of rules altogether.

Content and information architecture

This is something that I find myself talking about a lot, both on this blog and to clients when I meet them. Your website must make it easy for users to find the information, products and services that they are looking for quickly and easily. Nothing will send them elsewhere quicker than navigation that doesn’t work and vast blocks of text that they don’t want or need to wade through.

The navigation or information architecture of your website should be planned offline, before any coding is started. Often the most complex and sprawling navigation is the result of a website that has been added onto multiple times with out consideration of the existing content, a series of quick add ons or amendments because time or money is limited. Think of a product or service and work out how a user might find it, what categories it might be listed under for example, whether it could be linked with similar products or to articles and services elsewhere on the site.

Get to the point!

Written content is increasingly important to search engines and can be a valuable way to make you look like an authority on a subject or to show that you are a proactive business or organisation out and about doing interesting things. But writing reams of text that will simply never be read is a waste of your time and your users’ time too. Presentation becomes key here, make content scannable by using headings, lists, pullout quotes and relevant images.

Spam bot prevention

If you have ever filled in a form online I’m sure you have come across CAPTCHA forms and other systems that are built in to prove that you are human and not an automated spam bot. This is often a source of frustration, blurry and distorted images of letters and numbers that you have to decipher to submit a form. Your website should not be designed around spam bots, - simple, elegant and unobtrusive methods can and should be used that require no interaction from your genuine, human website users.

False economy

Many of these problems are caused by websites being built under a tight budget or time restraint, lack of planning from the start or lack of planning as the website grows. Your website gives you the potential to compete with the biggest businesses out there, but if your website can’t be found, performs poorly and drives users away it won’t. Even the smallest businesses should view their website as an investment, a professional impression and a good user experience for your customer from the first interaction is priceless.

by Rachel Watson