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Top 10 Tips for Website Functionality

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Top 10 Functional Website Elements

When planning or auditing a website, there are a number of elements to look for to ensure the best website functionality. Here are ten website functions that every website needs in regard to user interface, functionality, and design:

  1. Intuitive navigation
  2. Site map
  3. Fast load times
  4. Simple page design
  5. HTML and CSS
  6. Search tool
  7. Cross-platform capabilities, aka omnichannel
  8. Suitable color scheme
  9. Consistency throughout the website
  10. Images and other content
  11. Bonus Tip: Inclusive website functional design

1. Intuitive Navigation Is a Key Part of Website Functionality

The success of both your business and your website depends on creating an excellent user experience, which involves careful user interface design. One way to do that right away is to make sure your customers don’t get lost on your website. Creating a straightforward, logical web structure with an easy, prominent navigation bar will keep customers coming back to your site.

2. Create a Site Map for Better SEO

Customers aren’t the only ones who don’t want to get lost on your website. Search engines, too, need to be readily able to crawl your site and understand what it’s about. One way to do this is by creating a site map, or a structured list of every page in a hierarchical format.

The search engine crawlers can then easily find all the pages on your website, which is a key to getting pages indexed. Indexed pages come up in search results when users type in a search query.

3. Fast Load Times for Pages and Content

This is huge. Customers have come to rely on receiving information in the timeliest fashion possible, and they’re not going to wait around for your web page to load. This means no fancy flash, no music, no unruly images, and no obnoxious entry-point videos. It’s good design and marketing practice not to do this stuff, anyway; nobody really enjoys it.

Instead, you want to focus on creating a streamlined experience for your users. When they click on something, the expected action should start taking place immediately, and it should only take a second or two at most to load things on your website.

4. Simple Page Design = Functional Design

Page design goes hand in hand with site navigation because the two are often present together and operate in coordination. The top of the screen might show the navigation bar, while the particular webpage shows below that.

What page the user lands on should make sense with what’s in the navigation bar, and the user should be able to discern what’s on the page from both the page itself and from the navigation link (though the latter can be less detailed).

Functional design means a user can successfully navigate and use all the features of the website as the design features support and guide the user on their path. This often means getting rid of clutter and simplifying the page design. With too many things on the page, it’s hard for the user to discern what’s important.

If you want the user to stay on the page instead of bouncing, make it easy for them to get what they came to that page for. Streamline the page for just the content the user would want to see upon landing on that page and use only simple design elements that don’t overwhelm the visual space.

Use concise language and headings for different sections, especially for content like blogs or articles. Make use of negative space, or space without any content or images. Things such as quotes, images, etc. can be given emphasis by having more space around them.

There are also on-page navigation elements that can further simplify and declutter the page, such as collapsible text. Then, the user can decide if they want to expand the element to read more.

5. HTML and CSS Are Basic Parts of Making a Website Functional

Webpages implement the use of both HTML (for content) and CSS (for design). These two types of code perform very different functions yet are equally crucial in building a great website. For best results, you’ll either want to work with a website developer or spend the time to learn how coding works.

If your business is a larger enterprise or has sufficient funds, it might make sense to hire expert developers. If your business is a start-up or if you don’t have the revenue just yet, it might be worth it to invest some time into training for your team.

Another option is to hire less expensive developers who operate at just as high of a level as those who charge more. At Clarity, we ensure you get exactly what you need to build, maintain, and grow a successful eCommerce platform.

Affordable Custom Web Development

The benefit of our custom development services is that you get exactly the features you want for your business.

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6. A Search Tool Is Essential

If you perform an assessment of your favorite web pages, you’ll notice that most of them implement a search bar or other search function. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple function. This is where users can search for something on your site and find relevant pages and information.

This is part of website navigability but goes beyond the navigation bar. The search function needs to intelligently interpret what a user is typing and give them comparable results. It needs to be flexible to allow for spelling errors, typos, and alternative phrases or wording, and structured so that certain terms and phrases trigger corresponding results to come up.

7. Cross-Platform Capabilities Give Users Better Access to Your Site

Your customers will be accessing your website from a variety of browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, Explorer, etc. Believe it or not, websites are not necessarily automatically compatible with all web browsers. Make sure yours is by utilizing code that works with all browsers. It’s also a good idea to check your website on various browsers when you do audits.

Also, since many people access the internet through not just desktops but also other devices like tablets and smartphones, you need to make sure your website functions on those devices.

This means making your website mobile responsive. When a website is mobile responsive, it can respond to the different screen sizes and resize the webpage properly, and it has slightly altered page design and navigation.

For example, on desktop the navigation menu might fit across the whole screen. On a mobile phone, though, if it remained the same, the user would have to horizontally scroll or zoom in or out to use the navigation bar. This is a nuisance to many users, and most would bounce from your site.

So instead, you make the mobile version look different so that it fits on the smaller screen in an intuitive way. This doesn’t mean creating an entirely new platform for mobile users; instead, use platform software that allows for that type of adaptability. Then you can have one website that functions on all devices.

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Design Elements Are Important

Functional Design Elements for Your Website

8. A Suitable Color Scheme Makes All the Difference

The colors you display on your website convey certain ideas and feelings to your users about your business. That’s why it’s essential to pick a color scheme that fits your brand. A simple color theme is best so you don’t make webpages visually overwhelming, and users can easily discern different features.

9. Consistent Design Elements Throughout the Website

Consistency is key when it comes to the functional design of a website. Users need to know what to expect when navigating through your platform. A consistent and unique site design showcases your brand and makes your website seem trustworthy and reliable.

A simple design also makes the page more aesthetic and clean-looking, which users like. In addition, limiting the number of font variations and page layouts makes content easier to read and improves overall usability.

10. Useful and Specific Images and Content

When posting an article or blog post, images can be used to break up the text to improve readability and provide visual examples of written content. Just as with color scheme and design elements such as font, the images you use need to be consistent with the overall theme and brand design of your website.

That doesn’t mean using the same five images over and over, but it does mean making sure all your images are the same style. If you don’t have any images from your own business, you can get images elsewhere.

One method is to get images from copyright free and royalty free websites—just make sure you read the terms, so you know if it’s okay to display the image on your website for the purpose you intend it for.

It’s also important that you don’t use images that are too obviously stock photos—it’s okay to use stock photos but try to use ones that you haven’t seen hundreds of times on various other websites. Choose images that speak to your brand and that coincide with the content or pages they’ll be displayed with.

Another way to get images is to partner with a company or pay someone to design unique images specifically for your business to use. This will ensure that no other website has the same images you do, though it will require pouring more resources into this design element.

Whichever method you choose, think about the message you hope to project and choose your photos and other design elements accordingly.

Bonus Tip: Make Your Website Functional for Everyone

When creating functional design elements and other functions for your website, ask yourself: if I were a user on this website, what would make sense to me, and what would I want to view here? Would it be more intuitive for buttons to have a darker background or for headings to be larger? If I click on this link, where would I expect it to take me? Do these categories make sense for the content that lies within them? And so on.

Then go beyond that—ask yourself, is my website accessible for everyone? How would a person with physical or cognitive disability navigate through my website and interact with the pages? Is my site compatible with screen readers and other assistive technology? Is the color contrast high enough? Are things on the website keyboard navigable?

Once you design your website for all kinds of users, you expand your possible audience and customer base. More people will be able to use your website easily, which means greater potential for increased clicks, purchases, and interest in your company.

Get a Custom-Built Website

With Clarity, you can get everything you need for a website that’s tailored to your business’s needs, design preferences, and brand. Contact us for a free consultation.

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