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Website design and online marketing has changed a lot over the last few years. To compete online today, your website needs to strengthen your brand’s identity, generate quality traffic, and turn visitors into customers. It has to be user-friendly and mobile-friendly. And finally, it needs to be optimized for search engines. That’s a lot to deal with.
At StevenMilanese.com, when developing any website I always keep in mind some key web design principles to help my clients achieve all of the above and more. Here are some of the most essential web design features and functions I think every website needs for long-term success.
Responsive Web Design
Every website should look professional and work on any device, including smartphones, tablets, and desktops. This makes responsive design a must for any business that values the customer experience. In fact, Google recommends responsive websites as the best solution, and their recent algorithm update that rewards mobile-friendly sites supports this view. So, responsive design is not only better for consumers, but also for your search engine rankings.
Content Management System (CMS)
Consistently publishing high-quality content is now more important for search engine rankings than ever before, which is why you need an up-to-date content management system that allows you and your team to update your website quickly and easily.
Social Media Integration
The power of social media has never been greater in terms of audience reach and advertising opportunities, so you need to take advantage of social channels that are most relevant to your business and audience. With social media channels featuring prominently in search engine results pages, social media now plays a key role in search engine optimization (SEO). Integrate your social media accounts into your website, with clear links and buttons for your accounts, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Embedded Business Blog
A blog that’s embedded in your website (under the same URL) can help to boost your online visibility and drive more web traffic. It’s good for audience engagement, improving your credibility, building backlinks, and for keyword targeting, which all contribute to higher search engine rankings.
The Five Second Rule
Your homepage needs to grab the attention of visitors so they don’t leave your site. Many people make a decision after around five seconds whether to stay on a site or leave, so it’s crucial to quickly and clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and explain your unique value proposition. You can achieve this by showing a clear logo with a statement of what you do underneath. Then below, highlight a key benefit of your business or brand. Imagery that complements your brand also helps to make a great first impression.
Primary and Secondary Calls-to-Action
When people land on your website, there are mainly two types of visitor: those that are ready to take further action and those that want to find out more. Therefore, two calls-to-action are often necessary. For example, “Start My Free Trial Now” could be the primary call-to-action, and “Learn More” could be the second. It’s not just the homepage that needs calls-to-action. Every page on your site should have a clear purpose, so consider what course of action you want visitors to take at every stage.
Clear Page Structure
In the early days of the Internet, it was more acceptable to cram as much information as possible above the fold. Today, with more people using their mobiles to search online, vertical scrolling is the new norm, so it’s important to think about the order in which information is displayed on each web page. It’s good for the user-experience and will help search engines make sense of your site.
To help users easily find what they’re looking for, it’s vital to have a clear navigational structure that is consistent across your website. Sticky navigation – where main navigation links stay at the top of the page when users scroll down – is also a great way to help users find what they’re looking for. Likewise, showing your phone number and email on every page will help drive enquiries and strengthen your credibility.
Fast Page Load Times
Consumers today expect certain standards from websites, and in terms of usability, they don’t want to wait around for web pages to load. While mobile users are accustomed to waiting a few seconds longer for pages to load, desktop users won’t normally wait for more than a few seconds. To check your site’s speed and find out how to make improvements, use Google’s PageSpeed Tools.
The Bottom Line
Take an honest look at your own website. Are there things you could improve on? Ultimately, good web design is about enhancing the user experience with a site that is responsive, adaptable, engaging, and accessible. This way, you’ll get a smooth-running website that strengthens your image, improves your search engine rankings, engages visitors, and helps to drive sales.
If you need help with any aspect of web design and development, contact me at StevenMilanese.com and let me help you supercharge your business!