Monday, December 20, 2010
Cross-posted on the Google Grants Blog
In our previous post, we did some source code maintenance —just in time for the holidays. But once users have landed on your site, how can you make sure they'll know how to get around?
As it turns out, easily accessible content on your site can make a big difference. Users tend to have a better experience when a site helps them find and understand its content. Having an accessible site not only empowers users, it also helps search engines understand what your site is really about.
So if you've resolved to boost your site's user experience and online presence for the new year, improving your content accessibility is a great way to start. Thankfully, there are tons of features you can add to make your site more accessible. In this post, we'll highlight three of them:
- Intuitive navigation
- Concise, descriptive anchor text for links
- Unique, accurate page titles throughout the site
Help users avoid confusion by providing them with intuitive navigation, so that when they arrive at your site, they'll know where to click to find the information they're looking for.
Here are three features you can implement in order to lead your users down the right path:
- Navigational menu: Having a menu with links to the site's most important pages is the fastest, easiest way to show users where to click next.
- Text-based links: While drop-down menus, image-based links, and animation-based links can be appealing, keep in mind that users on text-only devices and some search engines may not be able to see or understand these links. Thus, many users prefer text-based links, which are also easier for search engines to crawl and interpret.
- User-viewable site map: 59% of our submissions did not have a user-viewable site map. By providing one, you display the structure of your site and give the user easy one-click navigation. If users are having trouble finding specific pages on your site, a site map can help them find their way. Don't send your users into the wild without a map!
Let's explore how these features can make a site's navigation more intuitive by looking at one of our submitted sites, Philanthropedia.
Thanks to this site's clean navigational menu, users can find all of the site's important pages within a few clicks. Wherever users end up on the site, they can always click on the "Home" button to return to the main page, or on any of the links in the menu to return to the site's important subpages. Like all of the links on this site, the links in the navigational menu are text-based links, which make it easier for both search engines and users to access the site's content. Finally, Philanthropedia has included a user-viewable site map, shown below, in case visitors are looking for a specific page not listed in the main menu.
Concise, descriptive anchor text for links
Anchor text—the clickable text of a link—can help users quickly decide which links they want to click on and find out more about. Meaningful anchor text makes it easier for users to navigate around your site and also helps search engines understand what the link's destination page is about.
20% of our submissions could improve their sites by improving the anchor text used in some of their