A User's Journey To Your Website
In order to build a user-friendly website, you need to understand what a user has been through before he ever arrives at your site.
In the vast majority of cases, a user didn't go directly to your website. Hours or maybe even days were devoted to researching your field before he stumbled upon your website. Many Internet searches were performed. Many other sites were visited that didn't have the right information but perhaps had a link to another site that had a link to a 3rd site that eventually got him to your site. A lot of time and effort was invested in arriving at your URL.
This journey through the Internet wasn't just time consuming, it was also full of frustration and disappointment. Many of the websites the user found through search engines didn't turn out to be what he thought they would be. Some sites were no longer working. Many were so cluttered with poorly organized information that it was impossible to find anything of value. Quite a few were what they call "SEO pages" – web pages specifically designed to rank highly in the search engines but lack any valuable content whatsoever. The majority were perfectly good sites but for one reason or another didn't quite have what the user was looking for.
On the plus side, he has learned a great deal about the service or topic he is searching for. He can now recognize almost immediately if a website is trying to sell him something he doesn't need or if the price is too high for what he is getting. When he arrives at your website, he is already a very knowledgeable consumer.
Several hours into his web search, the user has grown much too impatient to waste any time on a site that doesn't immediately appear to address his needs. If the information doesn't jump out on the first page he hits, then the website navigation had better clearly indicate where he needs to click next. Otherwise, he is gone as quickly as he came.
There is an endless sea of websites for users to wade through before they find one that addresses their needs. Your best strategy is to create the best content you can, and make it as easy as possible for a user to find what he is looking for. Try to view your site from a typical user's point of view and respect the journey that got them there. If you do this, your site will be the destination, rather than just a brief stop along the way.