How to build a user-friendly chamber websiteFriday, March 30, 2012
Think back to the last time you bought a car - when you first sat down in your new driver’s seat, did you need an owner’s manual to figure out how to start the ignition? Of course not. Instead, you relied on previous driving experience to get your new ride rolling.
Just as every car is built with certain operating standards, so too are websites. How well your website has implemented these standards greatly determines its level of usability .
What is “usability?”
The usability of your website is defined as how easily visitors are able to navigate your site and access desired content. By making usability a priority, you ensure that your website visitors will enjoy a pleasant user experience. You can optimize the usability of your chamber website by implementing some proven web standards – particularly the practices of simplicity and intuitive navigation.
To help explain usability, I am going to put the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce on exhibit.
Minimize distractions to avoid overwhelming your visitors. Eliminating excessive animations immediately creates a less-stressful browsing experience. Draw attention to your current feature story by surrounding a large central image with heavy white space. This way, users won’t have to dig through your website to find your most valuable piece of content.
Avoid content overload. Your chamber website likely contains a great deal of information. The key is to designate one section of your homepage for a list of links.
The Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce benefits from this simple and elegantly flowing design. Their navigation is legible and clearly represents the website’s content. They have a singular “picture window” at the forefront of their website, but have taken it in a different direction than the norm. Instead of one banner image displayed, Spartanburg has deployed three to display at any one time. Even when tripling the information available on the page, they have been careful not to overload the visitor with too much.
Concise phrasing is also important to providing intuitive navigation. Organize your links under clearly marked headlines. The way you categorize your content should be obvious – users shouldn’t have to think too hard about where to find a particular page.
The Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce has an excellent footer, which captures a few trendy design elements (such as its size and aesthetic appeal) and provides a wealth of useful information. You can see the clearly defined footer navigation bar, along with several ways to contact the chamber. Spartanburg also chose large social media icons and a good looking, revenue-generating banner ad.
The Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce does a great job of using commonplace web standards and intuitive design to optimize it’s usability. When striving for excellent usability, remember that the goal is to provide visitors with a stress-free, interactive experience on your website.
How user-friendly is your chamber website? Sign up for a FREE usability assessment from one of our digital strategists at Accrisoft!