When someone needs a product or service they are likely to turn to the internet for a solution. But simply having a website isn’t enough to make sure potential customers find your business and choose to buy from you. Not only do you need to make sure that your website is at the top of the list; you also need to offer the best possible impression of your company and what you have to offer.
Your website is the backbone of your online presence and its design and content play equal roles in how your business is perceived. What’s more, all your marketing and communications are likely to lead back to your site, including PR, advertising, and social media content. Making a good website doesn’t need to be complicated, but there are a few fundamentals that can help to prompt action and engagement from visitors, setting them firmly on the road to that all-important sale.
1 – Keep it clean
Try to minimise clutter and opt for a fresh, modern look. This doesn’t mean your website has to lack information. Text is important for users and for SEO but, if poorly formatted, large amounts of text can be overwhelming.
Keep colours and fonts consistent and try not to use too many – ideally less than five colours and no more than three fonts. The majority of your text should be a dark colour and placed on a white or pale background as this is easier for most people to read.
2 – Keep it organised
Good user experience is all about making things easy. Place the most important information towards the top of each page and break up content with clear headings so that users can quickly find the information they need. Most sites opt for a grid-based layout with columns and sections that are both visually appealing and give order to your content.
Make sure users can easily find what they are looking for by making your site easy to navigate and organising information logically. Ideally, each page should represent one area of your business, whether this is a particular product/service, your vision or values, or your contact details. Mapping out your pages and considering how you want users to move through the site is an important part of the design process. Good navigation makes a website more likely to convert and can help to make your website more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs).
3 – Make it responsive
Ensure the layout adjusts automatically to different screen sizes and devices, as glitches in functionality or layouts can confuse users and discourage them from engaging. While this is now common practice, it is not always easy to get it right on every device. What’s more, DIY website builders or preset templates may not respond as your content requires. It is therefore important to assess how your site looks and functions on desktops, tablets and mobiles (both Android and iOS operating systems) both when the site is first built and when you make any updates.
If you are looking to incorporate different media into your site, make sure that it does not affect your page speed. Images should be no more than 1MB in size. Anything larger could crash the page, causing serious issues for your users (and your SEO). For video, unless you are providing content as part of training or course materials, it is unlikely that you will need to host it on your own site. Use YouTube or Vimeo as your platform and then embed videos on your site where needed to keep pages running smoothly.
4 – Make it accessible
It is also important to consider users with additional needs. Good website design will consider spacing between text and elements on the page, size of buttons and links and the need for additional tools such as translation, font-size adjusters and high-contrast options. Our recent work for Harrogate Hospital & Community Charity incorporates all these elements in line with the Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines.
5 – Make it informative
Have you included everything a user might need to contact you? Do you accurately describe your business and what you offer? Key information such as products and services, contact numbers, email addresses, and ways to buy (if relevant) are not only vital for potential customers, they are beneficial to improving your rankings in search engines.
If you have an eCommerce site, you will need to make sure product descriptions, prices, and any relevant documentation are easy to find, as any missing information creates a barrier to sales. If you offer a service, on the other hand, you may not want to give away all your secrets, offering only enough information to encourage users to contact you.
6 – Keep it polished
Avoid spelling or grammatical errors and ensure images are optimum quality (while not compromising your page speed). If you’re not confident with writing copy for your site, consider commissioning a specialist copywriter or ask someone you trust to proofread each page before you go live. If you make any changes to your site later on, such as contact details, opening hours, or dates, ensure that you update them across the whole site. This way, your business will always look professional.
7 – Keep it up-to-date
One of the most off-putting elements of a website is out-of-date content. Make sure dates in footers, blogs and other areas are recent or, if you don’t have the resources to keep them current, remove them altogether. In addition, regularly updating website content by writing blogs or featuring company news is a great way to maintain and increase your search engine rankings.
If Google sees that your site is well-loved, it will consider it more relevant to searchers and so is more likely to show it on the first page of results. If you are an online retailer, it is also important to make sure your product information is current, particularly if a line has been discontinued or is out of stock, otherwise you risk upsetting your customers.
8 – Make it compliant
Your website needs to comply with current data protection rules. At present, this means ensuring your website complies with GDPR and E-privacy regulation, which govern the collection, storage and use of personal data such as names, email addresses, and even internet use. As best practice, you need to make sure your site includes:
- A privacy or data protection page detailing how you collect, store and process personal data.
- An option for users to change their communication preferences or request to erase their personal data.
9 – Make it secure
An SSL certificate creates a secure link between your website ad the visitor’s browser. By ensuring that all data passed between the two remains private and secure, SSL encryption prevents hackers from stealing private information such as credit card numbers names and addresses.
Some business owners see SSLs as an unnecessary expense, but an SSL certificate is an important indicator to potential clients that you are a credible, trustworthy supplier.
10 – Optimise for search engines
Search engines are specialised websites that use automatic tools to index web pages – a little like a library organises books. Users can search the index by typing keywords or phrases to specify their interest. Pages containing these keywords will be listed, and by clicking on a link they will be taken to the web page. Many elements of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) require technical knowledge and expertise, but you can make a good start by following the points in this article.
SEO is a long term process that builds long-term value. At Kariba, we start this process before we even begin designing a website by incorporating keywords and phrases relevant to the client’s business goals and target audience. Doing this gives it the best possible chance of reaching the top of the search engine listings – and making money.
Your website should be the best investment you ever make. It is a reflection of you and your business, so treat it with the care and attention it deserves. If you feel as if your current site isn’t performing as well as you’d like, call us on 01423 593020 for a free consultation or email [email protected].