We all know that websites are an important business tool and one of your most important business assets. But often how to optimise website design is a key element often overlooked.
Technology guru and founder of Apple Computers, Steve Jobs, points out two key factors that can make or break design which really relates to winning websites. "Some people think design means how it looks but of course if you dig deeper it’s really how it works."
When designing your website it is important to make sure that it not only showcases your business in a clear manner but what benefits the clients can expect to receive when using your business and all in a pleasing, engaging manner. Does it catch their eye, convey credibility and engage them into action?
Here are few golden rules to follow to ensure your website is the best it can be:
- Get responsive design – the latest and greatest in design which is all about allowing your site's design to be fluid across any screen size. Whether mobile, tablet or PC, your site will automatically be sized according to what the user is viewing it on to create a better user experience.
- Who are you talking to – have you got a clear picture of your target market and how they use websites? What information will they need to see or read to make an informed decision? Do they like to purchase directly or use it for background information first? Make sure your goals of your website integrate with who you’re talking too. Businesses to business clients require more information and logistics, end point consumers require easily understandable and uncomplicated purchase process, security and quality assurance.
- First impressions count – You’ve got 7 seconds to impress before the user goes elsewhere so use professional images and consistent headings and font styles that suit your corporate brand. A well designed and good looking website can have the advantage of promoting the image and professionalism of a much larger organisation. Tip: Avoid using a font smaller than 11 points in size and black or bright coloured backgrounds with white text, as it’s difficult to read.
- Optimise your site for search engines – commonly referred to as SEO, it involves applying page titles and key words (search words) and images to each page of your site as well as (you guessed it), key word content that is regularly updated. This allows Google, Bing and Yahoo to rank your site content so it’s easier to find you online against user key word searches.
- Make sure you have a call to action and user-friendly navigation – be clear with what you would like your client to do, call, email, purchase… Put your contact details or call to action (‘Buy Now’, ‘Contact Us’) in the easy to see header or top right corner of your site. Avoid footer for main navigation as it can get lost.
- Update your site! – Very important Content IS King – out-of-date sites are boring and suggest that you don’t care about your business enough to proactively promote it. It also decreases your search engine ranking, so keep it updated! Is the content on the site in a language that is understandable and consistent with your other mediums? Can you say it simpler with fewer words, how about with images, diagrams or maps to describe the information easier?
- Integrate social media – “Advertising on the web is less about just hitting someone with a message. It’s about engagement” Mark Zuckerberg. Social media is a great tool to push clients to your website for further information and create action. But remember to also keep in mind the “what’s in it for me aspect” for your users and provide interesting, engaging content that positions your business as credible and identifiable. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, promote this in your marketing too.
- Keep to screen size – try and fit your pages to an average screen size, statistics show scrolling and too many clicks drive consumers away. Make it easy for your customers to find information – use a top header or side navigation bar, and avoid the footer as the main navigation tool.
- Make it fast! - too many sites are bogged down with images and videos that have not been optimised for web use. This slows down your site and Google hates it. On top of that, some sites, particularly theme based sites, are loaded with plugins that are not used, meaning that the size of the overall site is negatively impacted, hence further contributing to slow site speed. Test the speed for yourself with Google's Page Speed Insights.