website design strategy

One Billion websites and counting. How does your website measure up?

I just can’t help myself, as soon as someone says they have a website I offer to take a quick look at it and see if I can improve it for them. I am almost on a mission to make every website more attractive and profitable. With 2015 set to be year that we reach the milestone of one Billion websites again (last time it was September 2014) your website just has to stand out. So here is my quick rundown on the things I look at and maybe it will help you out as well.

1] First impressions count
Your visitor will make a judgement of you and your business almost the moment your site loads. You need to display a professional appearance. Anything that looks like an amateur put it together will shadow your credibility. Your visitor’s first impression is critical.

2] Home Page – The Biggie
The first thing that greets your visitor needs to make an impact. This is your billboard. Tell your visitor exactly what they want to know about you and do it in the first couple of lines. Unless this information virtually smacks then in the face, they may leave quickly and never return. The dreaded “bounce”

3] The Message
This gives the visitor a reason to stay. Can your visitor see who the message is being directed at and can they see why your site is better than all the others that are offering much the same thing? This must answer their question: WIIFM – “What’s In It For Me?”

4] Load Time
How fast does the page load? Run it thru www.pingdom.com continue to make changes until you have the speed of loading your site down as far as you can. If graphics are a big part of your page, and quite often will be, optimize them as far as you can without losing their impact. It is imperative that the home page especially loads in less than 15 seconds. Most visitors will never stay around. Eliminate music, applets, heavy graphics or whatever it takes to optimize the load time.

5] Graphics
How pertinent to what you are trying to convey are the graphics that you are using? A picture says a thousand words, it’s true. And it’s difficult to show your product or service and to excite the senses without the use of graphics. In addition to optimizing them by reducing the number of colours, also reduce the dimensions and once again eliminate all that are not necessary to convey your point.

6] Fonts – Readability
Use basic fonts that are easy to read and keep their size where they can be easily read by all visitors at all screen sizes and resolutions. Make sure there is plenty of white space and that text is blocked into small sections. People do not usually read web pages word for word. They skim and pick and choose what catches their eye. Encouraging them to read more of what you have to say is easily accomplished by grouping the text into smaller bits that are easier to assimilate.

7] Skimming
Even when your reader skims the page, how easy do you make the task. Use a lot of short headings and small bits of text. Highlight special items, use colour changes, or use centering or dividers. Draw your reader’s eye to important information that you want to convey.

8] Quality of Text
Your visitor does not like to read a lot. As they skims thru your text, is your copy direct and to the point? Or does the reader have to swim thru a lot of words to find out what you are trying to say? Don’t “fluff up” a page just to meet a certain word-count requirement for SEO. The questions to ask yourself are: Have I said everything I could? Have I overcome all objections? Have I showcased the product or service? Does the copy encourage the next conversion step? Have I connected with my reader?

9] Navigation
How easy is it for your visitor to find their way around your site. Do you make them have to use the back button on their browser to get back to your home page or any other page on your site? Provide a link back to your home page on every page on your site. Do not allow your visitor to ever be lost or you might lose them as a customer.

10] Forms
People do not like filling out forms. When you use forms keep them as brief as possible. Use check boxes whenever possible. If you gather email addresses, be sure to let your visitor know how they will be used. Spam is very prevalent on the Internet and your visitor does not want to receive any unsolicited mail. You will increase your integrity by letting them know exactly how you intend to use any information that you ask them to supply.

11] Testimonials & Reviews
Your honesty and integrity is of utmost importance on the Internet. Your visitor wants to know that others are happy with your products and/or services. Provide testimonials that you receive from customers that have used your services/products. This is one of the most important things you can do to insure your credibility to new visitors and Google loves them

12] Errors
Check and recheck your site. Nothing will turn a visitor away quicker than a lot of spelling mistakes, broken links or missing graphics. Try http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com to test for broken links.

13] Mobile Friendly Website
Last but not least, make sure your website can be viewed on a mobile device. Have you ever tapped on a Google Search result on your mobile phone, only to find yourself looking at a page where the text was too small, the links were tiny, and you had to scroll sideways to see all the content? This usually happens when the website has not been optimized to be viewed on a mobile phone. To check whether your website is mobile friendly try the Mobile Friendly Test https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

That’s a quick spring clean for any website and here’s to the next one billion websites!

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