All businesses can benefit from an accessible and easy-to-use website. Online customers who find your website intuitive are much more likely to purchase from you and revisit your website in the future.
When planning your website, you should think about how your users will want to interact with your site. Attractive and accessible design, ease of navigation, well-written content, clear 'call to action' and well-designed e-commerce functionality will all make a difference to how effective the site is.
User-centred design for websites
The process for developing a user-centred website will typically include the following steps:
- Understand your business objectives and how this will affect your website - eg are there certain requirements that will have an impact on the usability of your website?
- Model different user journeys based on your customer insight and segmentation - you can use this to help define your site map and information architecture.
- Build 'wireframe' models of the website and other mock-ups – you can use these to test the 'look and feel' of the website prior to full development.
- Think about 'persuasive design' and how your website will support the customer to achieve certain goals on your website - eg a purchase or online registration.
- Design, build and test - this should be an iterative process that moves towards more functional prototypes and the final 'live' website. At this stage, you should aim to use expert evaluation alongside further user testing to ensure your understanding of the user all the way up to launch.
After launch, you should continue to collect user feedback as an on-going process. You can use this to benchmark performance and refer to when making future changes to the site. You can also assess the site's effectiveness after launch using web analytics tools to show how users are navigating the site.
If you have limited resources, you may want to consider using a well-designed template website rather than developing from scratch.
Making sure that a business website is accessible to people with disabilities is not only good design practice. It is also a legal responsibility and a vital consideration in user-centred design. See more on best practice in web design.