Making a good first impression is essential in business, and there’s no better way to impressive prospective clients than to have a strong website. However, before you can start creating amazing content to grow or attract an audience, you need to make sure you’ve got the proper foundation.
Web design can be one of the biggest challenges you face when starting to build your online presence, even with the awesome tools that are available to you. The good news is that even a few small adjustments can take a website from lacklustre to outstanding.
In this article, I’m going to go over everything you need to keep in mind to fix or website or to build a better one from scratch.
1. Have a Plan
It is best to start any project by ensuring you have a plan that will help see you to the end. When it comes to designing a website, the way to start off your plan of attack is to put yourself in the user’s shoes. Map out the most likely journey the user will take, or the one you hope they take, when they visit your site.
The most engaging websites are those that are intuitive and easy for the user to figure out. If a visitor can’t quickly find what they need from your site—whether it’s information about your business, hours of operation, or a purchase/order page—then they will quickly click out and move on. You don’t want to be losing business simply because your site isn’t putting the user first.
2. Include Social Share and Follow Buttons
If you’re building a brand then social media should already be on your radar. Leverage your website visitors is a great way to also start building your social followings.
The best way to avoid missing out on social media traffic is by clearly incorporating share buttons across social platforms so that the audience can share your web content on their own profiles, and follow buttons so that they can start following your socials without having to click out of the page.
3. Use Calls-to-Action
Calls-to-Action (CTA) are prompts that will help guide the visitor through your website. Not only does it help increase ease of use by giving explicit directions on how the visitor should navigate the site, it can also help you encourage visitors to act on certain impulses that help build your business.
Calls-to-action buttons should feature short phrases or commands such as ‘Sign Up Now,’ ‘Subscribe,’ ‘Get Start,’ or ‘Start Shopping.’ Multiple CTA buttons can appear on one page, but you don’t want to overload on these, so try to stick to the most basic, important actions.
4. Use the Right Images
The internet is an incredibly visual medium, and this should be used to your advantage when creating your website. This visual stimulus can help you engage with your visitors on an emotional level, which is the best way to build brand loyalty.
Use genuine photos that evoke trust in the company, including images of real people that work there. Let your prospective customers see who and what they’re getting when they decide to work with you or buy your product.
5. Get Rid of Clutter
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your website is easy for the visitor to understand and navigate is so make sure that it is not overwhelming. Make sure not clutter any of the pages, but most especially your home page. Remember that less is more.
Aside from usability, minimalist design is one of the biggest trends for websites in 2018. As consumer patterns for online consumption change, businesses have had to adapt their designs to allow quicker loading, meaning that minimal clutter paired with smaller creative expressions such as scroll-triggered animations or stand-out typography is the way to go.
6. Mobile Optimization
One of the biggest differences nowadays in online consumption is that 52.2% of all global web pages are visited via mobile phone. This means that beyond being mobile friendly, your website needs to be optimized for mobile.
This means that text should be easily readable and link navigation is easily clickable. Also design with touch in mind, while providing fluid layouts. Above all, your website should aim for functionality, ensuring all CTA buttons are clear and navigation is obvious and easy. Keep in mind that if visitors are using the cell phones to browse your site, they’re also probably aiming for a quick visit—so be as clear as possible.
7. Check Your Links
Once you’ve designed your website with the aforementioned elements in mind, then you need to make sure all of your links are in working order. Nothing looks worse to the consumer than an incomplete or broken link.
There are many tools available to help identify unknown 404’s or broken links. One in particular that we would recommend is Screaming Frog SEO Spider, which you can use to crawl your website for free. Be sure to check for broken links periodically to ensure the best user experience at all times.
So now that you’ve got your beautiful website up and running, how are you going to get visitors to actually check out your site? The key to boosting your views is in developing an SEO strategy to not only help your website views, but to increase your overall online presence.
The first step in any good SEO strategy is to focus on your on-site SEO, which is achieved on the website itself. Creating engaging content, including title tags and keywords, and making your URLs search engine friendly are all great starts to achieving this.
If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, including off-site SEO, check out our “Beginners Guide to SEO” series.
When designing your website remember that, for many prospective clients, it is going to be their first introduction to your business. Make sure to put your best foot forward by providing an easy, engaging experience that helps the user get what they need.