Today’s web design is a fast-paced field with many factors affecting the finished product. It’s not enough to just have a great-looking website. You must also include elements that satisfy the powers that be – notably Google – in order to ensure the success of your business.
So, just what are these web design elements and how can they help you grow or improve your Bay Area business? In the paragraphs below we’ll explore several web design elements and explain why you need to consider each and every one of them for your website.
With nearly 5 billion mobile phone Internet users worldwide, it’s easy to see why your website needs to be mobile friendly. Your visitors should be able to view your site easily without zooming or scrolling horizontally on any device they may be using. In fact, for most websites more than half of visitors use mobile devices.
In 2016, Google adjusted its algorithm to include a site’s mobile friendliness as a factor in its ranking. Dubbed “Mobilegeddon,” this change ensured that any site not optimized for viewing on smaller screens would experience a decline in ranking on Google search engine results pages (SERPs) from that time forward.
Before Google decided being mobile friendly was so very important, web designers would often create multiple sites for their clients – one for the larger screens on computers, and a smaller one for use on mobile devices, namely tablets and smartphones. This seemed extremely inefficient given the number of mobile devices out there at the time, so fast-forward to today. Today’s website must be developed using responsive design, meaning it must automatically adapt to give a consistently great experience to any user on any device. This element is not an option any longer – it’s a requirement. Otherwise your website is satisfying neither Google nor many of your website visitors.
While you may think your website doesn’t contain anything a hacker would benefit from, the reality is, website hacking occurs all the time on even the most mundane of sites. Most website attacks aren’t to steal your data or to mess with the layout, but rather to hijack your server as a spam email relay or to set up a temporary web server to send illegal files and such.
One important way to help secure your site and prevent these attacks is to make sure your site uses HTTPS (vs. HTTP), which encrypts your connections and ensures that no one can hijack data or messages being sent, usually automatically, between your website and its visitors. If your visitors share any private information (such as credit card info or login information, for example), it’s normally required that you use HTTPS on your site.
Another must for website security is making sure your website is kept free from hacking and malware by updating its software regularly, much like your PC or smartphone receives. While it may seem obvious, keeping all software on your site (e.g., WordPress, plugins, and themes) up to date is vital to keeping your website secure. Such updates commonly include patches to remove recently discovered vulnerabilities, very similar to your PC or smartphone. Failing to do site updates regularly is likely to eventually result in weaknesses that hackers can use to attack or abuse your site.
An SEO-friendly website is one that allows web crawlers to scan through its pages easily, finding everything it needs for ranking purposes. If your website is not well optimized for SEO, web crawlers will have a difficult time analyzing your content and/or it will be nearly impossible for your website to achieve high rankings for your most appropriate Google searches.
The net result – people looking for products or services you offer will find your competitors instead of your website. And not all websites are alike. Some, such as WordPress sites, are much more SEO friendly than others.
SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the most powerful tools in digital marketing today. However, it’s important for business owners to realize that their websites must be optimized for SEO as a minimum to even qualify for reasonable search results.
Of course, it’s never too late to begin optimizing your website for good SEO results, so if yours isn’t well optimized, be sure to talk to an SEO expert soon. If you leave it to a typical web developer, you’re highly likely to be disappointed. SEO is a very complex process that is continually evolving. As a result, very few web developers have the time or background to allow them to do even a reasonable job with SEO.
Your website needs a strong content management system (CMS) that will allow you to create, edit, and/or otherwise manage all the content that’s on your site. Without it you will not have any direct control over your website, and how it presents your company, organization, or practice.
By far the most popular CMS platform available today is WordPress. Offering thousands of themes and plug-ins, WordPress allows developers to create unique websites for their clients with virtually any features and appearance desired, while still allowing website owners to make needed content changes by themselves, such as updating content or adding blog articles.
Look and Feel Appropriate to Your Target Audience
Ultimately, your website should be something that your target audience will appreciate and identify with. The experience they have while browsing your web pages has a lot to do with whether they stick around, come back again, contact you, or buy from you.
User experience entails a lot of components of your site, including navigation, visual elements (fonts, colors, graphics, etc.), content, brand uniformity, and engagement. All of these factors need to come together in a cohesive experience that makes your visitors feel as if they’ve arrived at the right place for what they need.
Well-Written Authoritative Content
The content on your website is probably the most important element of the whole site. All the rest – the videos, graphics, visuals, etc. – only serve to enhance the content. From taglines and slogans to the blog posts and articles you present, your website content should be specific to the needs and wants of your customers. The key to having a successful website is providing relevant, clear, keyword-rich content that delivers value to the customer and persuades them to take some sort of action.
Fast, Secure Hosting
Your website hosting is critical to the success of your website. The visitors to your site expect your site to be up and running when they need it and that they will have no issues while on it. This means it’s essential to choose a hosting company with a reputation for providing fast, secure, reliable service.
Another often overlooked hosting service relates to backups. Full backups of your website on a daily basis, and kept for several weeks or a full month can serve as an invaluable resource if your website should become infested with malware. Malware in some cases can almost totally destroy a website such that the only alternative may be to re-build it – unless you have a full backup available from a time before it became infected.
Optimized for Conversions
Your website’s conversion rate is the percentage of your website visitors who actually “convert”, meaning that they do what your website is designed to convince them to do. That might be to buy a product or fill out your online form (thus becoming a new lead for you), for example. When your site is optimized for conversions, it makes the most of the traffic your site already gets. Typically that means that a variety of elements of the site or page are adjusted and then tested for conversion improvements (usually one at a time), retaining the changes that work best and removing changes that do not work as well.
Why is that important? Well, for example, let’s say that a landing page on your website receives 200 visitors a month and 4 of them “convert” (such as buying a product or contacting you). That page has a 2% conversion rate.
If certain aspects of the landing page were changed or improved, such as a headline, text, images, or even colors, the conversion rate might well climb to 4%, which would double the number of product sales each month, or leads, without any increase in the number of website visitors. In other words, double the revenue by simply increasing your conversion rate, which is typically far easier than finding a way to double your traffic.
Strangely, very few companies spend the time and money to optimize their website’s conversion rate, and then mostly only very large companies, even though there are nearly always ways to optimize a website to increase its conversion rate, often substantially.
When it comes to your business website, there’s far more to it than just having a great-looking site. From having a responsive design to making sure your site has the highest conversion rate possible, many elements go into making sure your website is doing a great job for you.
If you think your website could use some help, give us a call today. Let’s talk. We love to help.
By Rich Stieg, President, RKS Marketing & Web Design