Designing a new website? Don't know where to start? Successful web design is based on various factors that may or may not directly appear on your screen. Naturally, aesthetics and visual appeal are essential for design, but it's also important to keep user experience, content management and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind when building your website. It's hard to balance designing for originality, clarity, and analytics without knowing what to prioritize first.
There are several ways to boost your new website's success – the possibilities are seemingly endless. For the purposes of this article, we have selected 3 main areas to focus on when designing your website.
- Navigation & Content
- Layout & Responsiveness
These two key elements are what define user perspective and experience. The easier it is for users to navigate through your website and get the information they seek, the more encouraged they are to explore it further. Web layout acts as a playground for users to experience, and building a pleasurable playground involves a balance between simplicity and captivity.
Website design is so much more than what appears on a screen. For online visitors, what they see and how convenient their experience is determines whether they stay or go. That decision only takes a few seconds to make – almost as soon as they get on the site, so it's important to make that first impression great!
When it's time to navigate through a website, choosing from a ton of options and links can be overwhelming for many users. Navigation design is all about helping visitors get from one point to another. Keeping the navigation menu in a fixed place, usually at the top of every page, is a popular design trend that allows visitors to navigate your (entire) website from whichever page they happen to be on. 'Sticky' navigation bars improve usability and can reduce browsing time by up to 22%. It's a simple way to make sure visiting users can navigate at ease and have all options available at all times.
Navigating through pages means that users are absorbing a lot of content, so keeping that content clear and straightforward goes a long way. To incorporate concise and complete content, accompany text with photos and other media to make things easier on the eyes and avoid having your pages look like unappealing blocks of words. Ideally, you could even give each service, product, or call to action a subpage to divide the content and keep it at an adequate amount per page.
A visual strategy to grab customers' attention and provide them with direct information is to consider including a feature video (or infographics) on your website's homepage. Videos are processed 60,000 times faster by our brains compared to text and allow visitors to effortlessly understand key points without having to read heavy blocks of content upon arrival. It's easier to absorb visual media before moving on to text. Here are some free visual content tools!
Consistency throughout your website regarding format, background, color schemes, and typefaces has a positive impact on user experience. But fear not, this does not necessarily limit your design to a single layout theme. A good way to balance creativity and simplicity is to design different layouts for specific types of pages on your website. For example, your home page layout could differ from informational pages, photo galleries, inquiry form pages, and other types of content or calls to action. Depending on how similar content is thematically, you could change up the layout for different types of information to keep things fresh.
Designing a responsive web interface is another key part of building a successful website. Responsiveness means that the web pages and data should load quickly and the website layout should automatically adapt to the screen size of whatever device the user is accessing it on.
Who would want to switch from their phone to their laptop just because the website won't load? 64% of mobile web users abandon pages if they don't load within 10 seconds. In order to provide a great user experience, your site needs to be compatible with different devices and browsers that a visitor may be using. Remember, convenience is key, and you want to keep your website as accessible as possible to avoid losing users' interest.
95% of adults primarily use their smartphones to access information. Building a website that isn't mobile-friendly risks losing a large audience and would simply be incomplete. Since user experience is a top priority when designing a website, dedicating time and resources to your site's accessibility is very important. There are different ways you can do this:
- Implement a flexible, responsive design structure that resizes content and shuffles everything around to fit the screen parameters of whichever device your visitor is choosing to use.
- Add alt text tags in html (alternative text tags) to images so mobile users can still understand what's on the page even if some visual media isn't responsive or loaded. Alt text is a text description that can be added to an image's HTML tag and appears instead of images that won't display. (This may be a sloppy solution that doesn't incorporate the complete web design, but it could still work as a temporary fix!)
- Invest in platform-specific designs that have different layouts for every device. Responsiveness doesn't necessarily mean that a website should look identical on all platforms, and accessibility can be accomplished with different layouts for each device. In fact, squeezing everything in on a small screen doesn't always work out well and having device-specific website platforms assures that both functionality and aesthetics are at full potential.
For more on why your website should be mobile-friendly, read this.
SEO plays an important part in the ongoing improvement of your brand's online presence and could put you ahead of competitors when it comes to your website's visibility. Having your website pop up amongst the first few search results in Google Search and other search engines is one of the best ways to reach your target clients first and build an online audience.
Less than 10% of people advance to the second page of Google Search results when doing online searches. This percentage may seem very low, but ask yourself: why would anyone advance past the first page? In most cases, search engine results provide internet users with what they need in the first few results. Browsing is quick and effortless, so finding your website should be too!
Initiating your website with good SEO is all about search relevancy, content quality, linking, keyword use, descriptions, title tags, and other features you can explore here.
Some key points for a good SEO start are:
- Having each page of your website target a specific primary search keyword and multiple secondary keywords.
- Optimizing several pages for different keywords as opposed to dedicating one page for too many keywords.
- Using your keywords in relevant content and avoiding “stuffing” them into text for the sake of just including as many keywords as possible.
- Using H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags to specify which keywords are primary and which are secondary.
- Using long tail keyword variations you'd like to rank for.
The main point, especially for initial SEO, is making sure each page has Google-friendly content. Data shows that pages with 2,000+ words of content typically rank higher in Google search than pages with short, light content. You should also make sure content engages and helps users get what they want out of their search and website visit. Think of content simply as the answer to what someone is looking for!
Your content and keywords reflect on how beneficial your website is to people searching for what they need, and everyone wants to get results as quickly and easily as possible. SEO not only puts you in the good graces of Google Search, but also helps you connect to more users and boost your website's success. How important can design and content be if they aren't attracting enough viewers?
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