You haven’t changed your website in how long?!
I spoke to a very talented small business owner recently. Their business provides upscale consumer experiences, and they have amassed a number of satisfied clients. They wanted to improve their business and wanted to focus on their website design. In passing, she mentioned that they hadn’t been to their site in a long time! While that comment was shocking, it was a good reminder that many businesses do not see the value of good website design. They often don’t invest the time or commit enough resources to keep their website design current.
That got me thinking, what would people say if they had only one word to describe their website? Embarrassing? Modern? Dated? Hip?
Who is your #1 sales rep?
In our opinion, your website should be your number one sales rep. The days of a website being like an electronic encyclopedia are long gone. Your site should be the hub you drive people to, and it should be so compelling that you are able to keep people there and turn them from strangers to subscribers and then from leads to customers.
Kevin Burgin, on CJOB’s Saturday Morning Show, asked me “What makes a website good?”. Website design is a huge topic but there are 4 main categories where websites are evaluated:
- Mobile optimization
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- SSL security certificate enabled
Let’s dive into these website design topics.
Mobile Optimization: In 2015, Google launched ‘Mobilegeddon’. This algorithm update rewards mobile sites and penalizes sites that don’t work well on mobile. If there was any doubt before, there is no doubt now. If someone ever tells you that a non-mobile friendly website design is ok, they are simply wrong. Creating a responsive website (meaning mobile friendly) is easy, but transitioning an old website to a mobile version can be a big undertaking.
Many factors impact a website’s performance, but the main categories are:
- Page size: Time is of the essence. According to Akamai, a delay beyond two seconds can cause viewers to abandon a page — and for every additional second after that, the abandonment rate increases by 5.8%.
- Page requests: Every HTTP request your website makes, increases the load time. People are impatient and fractions of a second make a difference. Combine files to minimize the number of requests made.
- Page speed: Google uses page speed when ranking sites for search requests. That fact is reason enough to focus on page speed. But, also consider that many of your site’s visitors are on mobile, so, if internet access is inconsistent page load time is even more important.
What is an HTTP request, you ask? Each time someone visits a webpage, here’s what typically happens: That person’s web browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.) pings the web server that hosts the webpage they’re trying to visit — in this case, a webpage on your website. It requests that the server send it the files containing the content for that site. These files contain any text, images, and multimedia that exist on that webpage. (Hubspot)
Search Engine Optimization:
Does Google know what your site is about? Can Google easily read and understand the content or structure of your site? So, if Google can’t read your site it won’t serve up your content when people make searches relevant to your site. Here are 2 simple tips to improve your SEO:
- Submit a sitemap to Google. A site map is a model of a website’s content designed to help both users and search engines navigate the site. A sitemap can be a hierarchical list of pages (with links) organized by topic, an organization chart, or an XML document that provides instructions to search engine crawl bots. (Techopedia)
- Add metadata to your web pages, images and posts. Metadata describes other data. It provides information about a certain item’s content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the colour depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. A text document’s metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document. (TechTerms)
An SSL certificate should be considered required any time personal or sensitive information is collected. Because Google now shows an error message when you are clicking on a site that doesn’t have an SSL certificate, you now need one. Not having an SSL certificate doesn’t mean that the website is un-secure. Adding an SSL certificate falls in the “because Google says so” category. The cost is free to cheap so just put one on your site.
So what does all this mean?
There are many facets of website design. If you noticed, none of the website design tips above covered whether a site looked ‘pretty’ or not. This is an important distinction as many people say they really like a certain website design. Unfortunately, the website design may look nice but is terrible from a functional perspective. Sliders (larger banner images that flip from topic to topic) are a great example of poor website design. They satisfy requests to add more content to the website, but the reality is sliders are irritating, they slow down your site, and they contribute to a poor user experience on mobile devices.