A guest post by Kayleigh Alexandra.
It’s no secret that the better a website looks, the more likely it is to win over its audience.
After all, the average web user makes a decision about a site within seconds of arriving, so first impressions count.
However, there is far more to a successful website than looking good. Even the most novel and eye-catching site may fall flat if it doesn’t have a solid design to back it up.
Here are six reasons why your design needs to do more than just looking good to be successful.
Think about how your audience will most likely want to access your content.
You will need a mobile friendly design if your visitors prefer to consume content on the go. You will need to localise your content if they live in a specific country or region. This may also include offering an alternate language version of your website.
Additionally, you should consider that not everyone visiting your website will be able to read it as you intended. This is particularly for those with visual impairments. Adapt your design to include image captioning and inserting alt text to allow screen readers to describe these elements to users.
You’ve heard about search engine optimisation (SEO), and how it allows your website to be found by its intended audience. You will appreciate that a SEO strategy is vital towards successful web design, but isn’t this about using keywords?
Well, actually it’s a lot more complex than that. Even though keywords still matter, other factors such as loading times, broken links and content relevance play a significant part in determining how search engines rank your website.
Social media interactions also affect both your website’s visibility and your brand’s reputation. Start by including social sharing buttons at the bottom of your posts, as well as linking to social media accounts connected with your brand.
If your website takes too long to load, most visitors will have given up and moved on before they realise your site is more than just looking good. And even if they do hang around while the page loads, by the time it finishes, they will already fell negatively predisposed towards your website.
Therefore it is vital to test page loading times, and trim back anything that slows things down. This includes features like background images, animations and Flash effects. Scale your site back to what is essential, and look how you can optimise what remains to reach the current standards for accelerated mobile pages.
Your website’s design directly affects how users perceive your brand. Therefore your website should focus on the design elements, colour schemes and logos which consistently contribute to its overall persona.
A good brand helps visitors feel more familiar and comfortable with both your content and your business as a whole. This is especially important if you want to break into ecommerce. Once visitors recognise your brand, they will be more willing to place their trust in it.
Also maintaining consistent branding throughout your website provides an instant air of professionalism. This in turn will boost your brand’s authority within its chosen field.
Quirky, innovative web design will certainly catch a visitor’s eye, and even persuade them to investigate further. However, it’s not worth sacrificing basic navigability for the sake of looking good.
If visitors cannot find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, they will soon become frustrated and leave your site altogether. A good checklist for your site’s navigation is the following:
- Is your menu easy to find?
- Are all links functional, easy to interpret, and pointed to the correct location?
- Are your buttons and hotspots intuitive? Does anything look clickable that isn’t?
- Is it easy to return to the homepage?
Other pages that should be easy to find include your About, FAQ, Help and Contact pages. A site map is also essential, not only for visitors, but for search engines which use it to index your site more efficiently.
Look at online stores to get a better idea of navigation standards, as their menus are finely-honed. View some online businesses up for sale and read some best practises to get a strong idea of how to lay your site out.
Internet security is always a hot topic. Many savvy web users will leave your site immediately if you don’t have the proper security certificates. In fact, as of July 2018, if you don’t have a valid SSL/TLS certificate, Google will mark your website as “insecure” which could be bad news for your traffic figures.
Fortunately, it’s easy to secure your site via one of a number of reliable providers, including Symantec and Network Solutions. You can also get a free domain validation certificate from Let’s Encrypt. However, this is only valid for 90 days, so you will need to renew it regularly.
Is your website more than just looking good?
Most of this is fairly straightforward, so you should have no trouble ensuring your website is more than just looking good. Keep an eye on your performance data to see if any problems need addressing. Seek professional guidance if there’s anything that isn’t working the way you want it to.
Remember, your content is the heart of your website. While it’s important to keep your website looking good, you shouldn’t neglect its quality. You can always outsource any technical aspects, or add in additional features later. Focus on making your website accessible, interesting and up-to-date, and you’ll be well on the way to making your brand a success.
About the author:
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.
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