Your website is the portal to your bottom line: period. Unfortunately, so many people focus on making a website beautiful that they lose sight of other factors, like user experience and SEO. After all, a website is about much more than a pretty design: it’s about what’s happening behind the scenes to manipulate a seamless visitor journey on the front-end. If you’re in the process of building your website, here are five important things to keep in mind:
Develop An Intuitive Navigation
Your navigation could hinder your user experience if not executed correctly. This is your website’s version of a road map. Your roadmap can be easy to follow, or cause confusion for your visitors. One of the best ways to create a seamless experience is by making everything as simple as possible, so as not to overwhelm anyone. This means combining elements of your pages to enforce the “less is more” mantra. This is the premise behind the best-selling web usability book “Don’t Make Me Think.”
It also helps to have each section clearly labeled. For example, some industries prefer not to use terms like “Blog” because it doesn’t sound as professional as terms like “Resources” and “Articles.” But studies have shown that “Blog” is the simplest way to reach a consumer without confusing them. You should also pay attention to what’s happening at the bottom of your page. More and more people are scrolling immediately to the footer of a website to access specific areas, such as the Careers, Public Relations/Media, and Contact pages.
It also helps to take a look at great website menu design for some much-needed inspiration. After all, when you’re close to an idea or concept, it can be difficult to think of ways to simplify it from an outsider perspective.
Make Sure It’s Responsive
There have been countless studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of responsive design, and the results are conclusive: you absolutely need it. Simply put, responsive design makes your website easily viewed and navigated across any type of device. Between 2013 and 2015 alone, tablet Internet consumption grew by 30%, while mobile consumption spiked to 78%, according to a comScore study.
Google has also officially acknowledged that there are more mobile searches than desktop searches in the United States and several other countries. They also stated that responsive design does affect your search engine ranking status. Fortunately, there are thousands of responsive designs out there, and regardless of your industry or mission, there’s a design that will cater to you.
Choose The Right Hosting
Not all hosting is created equal. Choosing the right type of hosting isn’t the same as choosing the cheapest option. Shared hosting, for example, is a cost-value choice for those who are just starting out and don’t have an audience. This might mean the launch of a new blog site or small ecommerce shop. If you already have a following an anticipate a large amount of traffic, private virtual server hosting might be the better option. This ensures that you’ll have dedicated resources and increased reliability; after all, a website that crashes could easily cost you thousands in lost sales and a bad reputation.
Enforce SEO Best Practices
Search engine optimization is a huge, multifaceted game in its own right, but the most basic of SEO best practices can be utilized long before you even launch. Setting your website up for SEO is crucial to ensure it has the proper foundation with which to build upon. This means that before you start creating copy for your pages, you’ll need to conduct thorough keyword research. You’ll abide by this list of coveted words as you continue building out your site. Here are a few ways to optimize your site before you launch, based on your research:
- Create a “Coming Soon” page infused with keywords, and connect it to your social profiles
- Create keyword-rich page titles
- Use meta description tags to influence clickthroughs
- Strategically place search phrases on your page copy
- Create XML and HTML sitemaps to make it easier for Google search engines to crawl
- List your website in directories––especially influential, niche directories
Make It Easy To Reach You
Your contact page is one of the simplest you can have, which means most people don’t put too much thought into their contact pages, but it can be a very powerful way to get customers or connect with potentially loyal readers. This is especially true when you take this fact into consideration: for many sites, the page that gets the most traffic is the contact page.
It might be helpful for you to have multiple methods of contacting the business, giving the visitor options to choose from. JetBlue’s Contact Page features a variety of help topics, but also makes it clear that there are three methods of communication: phone, email, and receipt request.
If you have a contact form, understand that too many fields can only cause confusion for both your Help Center and your visitor. This can quickly become frustrating. Consider this scenario: a customer returns a product for store credit, and accidentally sends the wrong item to your warehouse. The customer wants to fill out a contact form to explain the situation, but runs into pre-populated topics to choose from––none of which cover this particular situation. This could easily anger the customer to the point of complaining online and leaving a horrible review. You could also lose a customer, and most people in the business world understand it’s that new customers are harder to get than keeping those you have.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality on your contact page, either. It should reflect your personality, and make the visitor feel as though they can genuinely connect with the people behind the page.