More and more business is being conducted online these days. Your website is a crucial marketing tool that can determine the future of your business and your ability to serve your customers. When you are charged with designing and developing a website for a business, this is a tremendous responsibility.
A lot of potential customers come from the Internet. Even when looking for a local business, most people pull out their smartphone and search online. This makes it critical that every company’s website has certain essentials that will help it gain new customers, and improve the company’s long-term prospects for growth.
Standing out from the crowd is the aim of any business, so it should also be the goal of any businesses’ website. When designing a website for your own business, or for a client if you do web design professionally, ensure that it grips the visitor’s attention by how it looks. You should also make sure that the layout and feel of the website match the services that you are providing. What might be appropriate for a retail site won’t work well for a tech company.
It’s important that visitors are not greeted by a wall of text when they come to your website. Even if you have to say a lot to sell your particular goods or services, mix it up with relevant images to break the visual monotony for the reader. Additionally, use short paragraphs and subheadings to break up longer segments of text.
People use a variety of devices to access the internet today, and they also do so with a wide array of browser software. Whatever they are using to access the internet, you need to ensure your website looks and functions smoothly on their screen. When a website doesn’t convert to mobile devices, you stand to lose a large percentage of your viewers.
Making your website convertible between devices is known as making a website “responsive.” Basically, you make it flexible enough that everything smoothly resizes to fit whatever screen size, operating system, and browser they are using. Mobile commerce has already surpassed that of e-commerce carried out from desktops or laptops, and you need to be ready for this reality in terms of the coding of your website before it ever launches.
Like it or not, we live in a world where people expect as close to instant results as possible. This is why we have microwaves in our kitchens, and we curse under our breath when the internet is lagging for just a few seconds. Having a slow loading website is a death knell for your views. If people click on a link to your website and it takes longer to load than they are expecting, chances are they will move on to a competitor’s website.
Ensuring that your website is designed and coded well enough to load quickly is important for another reason as well. It has been known for some time that search engines regard page loading speed as a factor when it comes to ranking web pages. So, not only will your site visitors not stick around if that page takes too long to load but they may not have found you in the first place due to this.
The most frustrating thing, from the user’s perspective, after a website taking too long to load, is not being able to quickly find what you’re looking for once you’re on the site. This subject of site navigation is critical, and similar to page loading speed, it affects the user’s experience and search engine ranking.
Pages need to be easy for the search engines to find and crawl in order to index the information on them when deciding where to rank them. For the site’s visitors, ensure that the navigation links on each page are for topics or products that are most likely what they were coming to your website to find. For hard to find topics, be sure to have a sitemap. You should also consider having a search bar for your website. This is important for visitors to locate hard to find pages and especially critical when it comes to search engines giving your pages a good ranking.
It is important when putting a website together to give the visitor the information they need to convert them into a lead or customer but not much more than this. Harkening back to the first factor, clutter is not visually appealing. If people have to read through a lot of extraneous information to find what they need to know to decide to go with your business, they may decide this is too much work and abandon your site altogether.
Even when you don’t have an information overload, the copy on the website must also be of high enough quality to move the reader to act. Whether the action is for them to enter their email address to subscribe to a newsletter or buy something right off the website or come to your restaurant, the content should include strong calls to action to get them to take this desired step. Search engines also like high-quality content that is regularly updated.
Standing out from the crowd is what it’s all about, so try to do something different. This can be something simple such as a memorable logo or a particularly good color scheme. You can encourage engagement with your customers by allowing customer reviews or feedback right on the website.
You may also consider using video on your site. Everybody’s website has text and graphics on it, so video is something that really makes you stand out. You might try a short, animated explanation video that tells visitors about your company, products, or services. These are known to increase visitor engagement and conversion for any webpage they appear on.
This is the most important of all the steps because the prettiest website in the world is useless if nobody finds it. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the single biggest factor to being found by people who are searching on the internet. If you’ve reached this point in the article, then a lot of your search engine optimization work may already be done. As has been previously mentioned, the major search engines look for factors such as speed of page loading, the responsiveness of the website design, information architecture and quality content. Additionally, you will want to add the keywords that you want to rank highly under on the search engines in page titles, meta tags and throughout your content.
Social media is, of course, the other critical factor today in getting a website found. As a website designer, you can assist with this by ensuring that every page has social sharing links to the major social media sites. From a design perspective, it is best to put these in the top half of the page, so people don’t have to scroll to find them.
There are several factors that can make or break your business, and your company website is certainly a major one. It needs to communicate to visitors that you are a professional in your field and that they can feel good about deciding to do business with you. It is easy to mess things up when putting together a website, but it’s also easy to get it right by knowing a few of the basics together with an attention to detail.
Web design has gotten easier over the years. It hasn’t been necessary to buy your own web design software for some time now. Online website design services are all over the place, and some are even focused on certain purposes such as e-commerce or content management. Keep the above points in mind, and you will be able to create a website that accentuates your reputation and increases your sales.