We have come a long way since the early 2000s, but even in the last few years A LOT has changed. So if you haven’t looked at the design of your website recently, or it’s not creating the momentum you thought it would, read on to see a few changes that will make all the difference.
Positioning yourself online has never been more important for potential customers, clients and anyone else that may have an interest in your company. It gives them a destination whereby they can not only get the information they need, but pass judgement about what your website says about your company.
Make sure your website has the following elements and you’re off to a great start:
- Responsive / Optimized for mobile
- User-Friendly Navigation
- Great Visual Design
- Valuable Content
- Speedy Loading Times
1. Responsive / Optimized for mobile
Firstly, let’s establish what web developers mean when they say “Responsive Web Design”. According to Sweor:
Responsive websites adjust to the pixel-width of the screen upon which they are being viewed, providing the same level of user experience on every device and preserving all content necessary to maintaining such user experience.
In Canada, over half of all online traffic happens on mobile. Depending on your audience, this percentage could be lower, or much higher. But put simply, if your website works well on mobile, you will double your website traffic.
Bear in mind there is a big difference between “mobile-friendly” and “responsive”. Mobile-friendly websites function on mobile, but are basically a reformatted version of the desktop site. Responsive websites are optimized for mobile.
In some cases, where customers have a high mobile usage, it is a good idea to design ‘mobile-first’. This means, putting the user experience of your website on mobile as a priority over desktop, because the majority of your customer-base will be viewing your website on their phones.
Set yourself a deadline for the end of 2018 to optimize your website for mobile. By then, mobile devices are projected to reach 79% of global internet use. This is why “responsive” is at the top of this list.
2. User-Friendly Navigation
A good user experience is based upon whether your user can find what they’re looking for. The viewer should always know exactly where they are on the website and have easy access to where they would like to be. No one has time for guesswork, so navigating around your website should be self-explanatory. A great navigation experience is what sets a website apart from the rest. To do this:
- Limit the amount of items in your menu. Have a maximum of 7 sections to limit confusion.
- Navigation should be easily found. Users expect to find it across the top of the website
- Use descriptive and to the point titles. e.g. Products, Meet Our Team, Contact Us
- Make sure the brand logo always navigates back to the homepage. This enables your visitors to start their search over, quickly and easily.
- Clear design. This is not the place for fancy fonts – legibility comes first with navigation. Be sure to use proper spacing, this is especially important on mobile as users have to navigate with their thumbs!
3. Great Visual Design
First impressions matter. As soon as your website loads, the visual appeal of your website should make an impact on your audience. It will encourage them to stay on your website, as oppose to clicking off and going on a competitor’s site (internet users are a fickle bunch!).
Your website has about 1/10th of a second to impress your potential customer and let them know that your website – and business – is trustworthy and professional. However, it’s important not to go overboard with too much. Scrolling text, animation, and colour should be used sparingly in your web design and only to emphasize a point for maximum effect.
- Co-ordinate. Make sure all colours and typefaces complement one another so that your website looks clean, fresh, and simple. Your website should be a reflection of your brand.
- Great photography/illustrations. Make sure all original or stock images used on your website are optimized for web, of good quality and beautifully presented.
- Use white spacing between content to make it easier to read and more appealing to the eye.
- Use a hero image that is relevant to your business to help connect with your audience better. Pay great attention to your header section (the area your visitor sees first on your landing page). This is the area where you can really bring together your brand image and make a statement.
4. Valuable Content
Another crucial area that should be addressed is the content that you use on your web pages. Your website text should be informative, easy to read, and concise.
In order to create meaningful content, you will need to work out your target audience and create content that’s based on them. Another reason to tailor your content to your audience is for SEO purposes. Basically, the keywords that you use will help your website come up in the right places on Google.
The main reason people visit websites is for information, so make sure this is accessible, legible and clear. Not all visitors to your website are interested in, or have the time to peruse the entire site. They may need to access only a phone number or address, or just a certain bit of info. For this reason itʼs important to place key information in plain site.
5. Speedy Loading Times
Wonder why your bounce rate is high? It may be that your website loads slowly. If a page takes longer than 5 seconds to load it can cause frustration for your visitors and they are likely to leave. Try out a speed test now.
Follow these tips to ensure your website is super speedy:
- Removing any nonessentials; videos, images or other large documents that may be taking time to load.
- Compress images down for website quality to reduce the time it takes to load large images.
- Utilize browser caching to store cached versions of static resources. This can speed up your page greatly.
- Optimize your website for devices such as mobiles, tablet, and iPhones.
- Reduce the number of plugins that you use.