When it comes to designing your website, there are many options to consider. Most people think about the visual things; colour scheme, images, text font, layout and the information they want on there. If you want to ensure that your website gets a lot of traffic, though, you have to think deeper about what you include, so that search engines can find you and people are more likely to purchase from your website (or make contact with you to do so). Here are seven must-have things to include in your web development, right from the very start.
Google likes detail. It is important to give Google what it wants because it determines how many people will see your website in search results. And detail is one of the things that Google wants. For all of your pages provide as much of it as you possibly can; each product or service that you offer, your About Us section and your Contact page. The more times that you can write that you are a hairdresser on the Gold Coast, the more likely Google is to show you to people looking for a hairdresser on the Gold Coast!
Detail is also critical for the people who visit your website. If you can tell them what they want to know, they are more likely to engage with you. If you are vague about what you offer or how much things cost, they may be tempted to click away from your site to find someone else. Let them know in concise and clear ways that you can help them, and why they should choose your company over anyone else.
Mobile Friendly Sites
There is a large proportion of internet users today that rarely ever turn on a laptop or computer; everything is done from their mobile phone or device (iPad or Tablet). It is critical, then, when putting your website together, that it is mobile-friendly.
Just because someone can access the internet from their phone does not mean that whatever website you create will be good on that device. Mobile devices have a different way of displaying content, and if your site is not compatible, it will miss sections off the side or bottom, images will not display properly, or the page may take too long to load. All of these things can contribute to the visitor leaving your website to find an alternative; one that is much more user-friendly for them.
Most website platforms now offer an option to make your site mobile-friendly, but if you are employing a web designer make sure that this is at the top of the list of requirements. If it isn’t, you could potentially miss out on thousands of new customers each year, simply because of one tiny, fixable issue.
Fast Load Times
Consider each time you search the internet. What happens if the website you click through to takes more than 6 seconds to load (and not because your internet is struggling)? Do you always sit around and wait for it to load? Or are you tempted to click back and find an alternative site, one that loads faster?
It is really important when developing your website to use services that do not have any lag time, that load within 3-4 seconds so that your audience is likely to stay with you. This comes from choosing software, or platforms, that are experienced and supported by technical teams who make regular updates. It is also important to consider what you put on your website, as this can affect the load time. Large images and long videos will contribute to slow loading, so avoid them wherever you can. Keep videos short and only use those that are necessary to captivate your audience. Reduce the size of all images, too. They can still be included, just keep them relatively small in the context of the website.
In today’s society there is, unfortunately, the need to ensure absolute security, for both yourself as the business owner and the people who visit your website. If you are using a web hosting platform (like WordPress or Wix) make sure that they include SSL certificates. If they don’t – find someone else. If you are having a developer build your site, tell them that this is non-negotiable and must be included. You do not want other people to be able to steal your visitor’s information, or yours for that matter.
Security is particularly critical if you sell products or take payments through your website. You must have an encrypted payment system that fully protects the payment details of your customers. There are many people who will quite happily steal credit card details from across the globe, and use them for their own purchases. Customers are also aware of this now and are not likely to complete a transaction unless they are sure that their information is safe. It is better for both you and your customers if this security is in place right from the start.
Social Media Integration
Every website should have its social media pages linked to it. The benefits of this are two-fold for your business. The first is that you can increase your audience. When new visitors come to your website, they will like your brand and may want to be updated with information in the future. One way for them to do this is to follow your company on social media, so they can like your Facebook page or follow you on Instagram, all without leaving your website. It will increase your follower base on those platforms and allow you to follow up with them at a later point.
The second benefit is that if you have your social media newsfeeds streaming on your website you can help to increase your Search Engine rankings. You will potentially rank higher when people search for a business such as yours on search engines (like Google or Bing). Because you are more likely to update content on your business Facebook page or Instagram profile than you are on the website, having the feed on the site will allow fresh content without you having to do it manually. So, every time you post on Facebook it will also be new content on your website. And the search engines like this.
Did you know that 80% of website visitors will not scroll down to find more information? (Statistics thanks to Fusion360.com). Because of this, where you place important information on your website is crucial to getting people to stay engaged with your site.
It is important that you put the most relevant and engaging content of the page at the top so that visitors do not need to scroll down, unless they really want to read more. You will need to consider the layout of your site for this; sites that have large images at the top will not be any good, nor will those that have thick navigation bars.
Consider, when writing the content of the site, what the most important thing that someone should know is. It will differ from page to page, so reconsider for each new page. You can include more information below the initial viewing area, but this should be information that is not necessary to the potential customer and what they want to buy.
Clean, Clear and Consistent
Websites that have too much going on are a big deterrent for visitors, and there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, if you have a mix and match of colours people can become visually overwhelmed and struggle to find what it is they are looking for. Studies have shown that high-converting websites are those that have two or three colours in the scheme, and they are consistent throughout every page.
Secondly, having too much information can not only overwhelm visitors, but it can hinder the load time of the website, which, as we have already identified, can deter people from staying on your site. Aim to keep the use of images and videos relevant to the page they are on and in context of the page it is on. If they do not provide benefit to your visitor, consider removing them to help with load times.
Thirdly, clean and consistent design means that the audience will be able to understand your content better because it is not hidden behind random images and unnecessary colours. Your branding and message will be clear to them, and they will know what type of company you are, and what it is that you have to offer. Don’t take their focus away from the important things; make sure that they have every opportunity to discover what your business can do for them.
While these things are easier to implement at the development stage of your website, they can be easily changed if you already have your website up and running. Unfortunately, you may need to go back to your developer and have them make the changes, which can be costly. If possible, incorporate these elements right from the start so that the second your website goes live, your audience is getting the best possible experience from your business.