What makes a website a good one? What makes you want to come back to a site? Better yet – what makes you decide not to visit a site again?
So much of our lives happens online nowadays. From seeing a friend’s new dog on Instagram, to reading a review for a new vacuum cleaner, the Internet is never very far out of reach. People are constantly searching the Internet for something. Every second about 40,000 Google searches happen worldwide (Internet Live Stats). What happens when one of those searches leads to your businesses website? Will it be a good representative for your business?
We can all remember a bad experience that we’ve had online, struggling to use a poorly designed system. Perhaps you can’t remember where to find your bank’s tax documents, even though you’ve downloaded them dozens of times. Turns out, most people aren’t even patient enough to take the time to look. Over 80% the time if people have a frustrating experience online, it is enough to drive them away for good (WebFX). A well designed site on the other hand, will remove the barriers between your business and your customers. Then, making them a recurring client is the easy part.
So how can you make sure your businesses website is providing a positive experience for your visitors? Below are our top items to focus on when evaluating your website.
First and foremost, think about your users – the folks visiting your site today, and the folks that you’d like to tomorrow. Think about who they are and what they want. What would you think of your business if you only had your website to go on? What would you tell someone about your business if you only had 15 seconds? The average web page visit lasts less than that (Time). These are the types of questions that a good, effective website answers.
1. User-focused content
Having content that people are looking for is as good as gold on the Internet. Once you have a collection of valuable content, everything else falls into place neatly. This content could be as simple as listing information about your businesses that clients are always asking about – like a form they need to fill out. It could also involve creating new content that your users are interested in. What are some common questions that your customers ask you? What expertise can you provide? Answering these FAQs can be a great way to make your business stand out as a leader.
2. Simple design
Your website should clearly represent your business, be visually appealing, and be well organized. How you present these elements will play a large part in forming visitors opinions of the site and in turn, your business.
According to KoMarketing, after arriving at a website’s homepage, 64% of visitors move to the company’s contact information. If this information isn’t readily accessible, over 40% will simply leave the site. Thinking through details and use like this can greatly help to create a positive user experience. A happy website visitor is much more likely to become a happy customer.
While flashy designs may look cool, it’s important to design for all skill levels of Internet users. This means keeping menus simple, having clear buttons, and including indicators that tell your visitors where they are. Using web standards and adhering to accessibility standards is essential. Creating clear steps and visual ques can help point the way to the things that your users are interested in.
Especially on mobile
A big part of designing a website in 2020 is making sure it’s mobile optimized. 61% of consumers have a higher opinion of companies with a site that is optimized for mobile use. That’s because more than 50% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices (WebFX). Google now practices “mobile-first” indexing. This means that they will seek out mobile pages before desktop sites, and use them to determine your page ranking. Low quality design and lack of mobile formatting will negatively impact this score.
Consider your own daily usage – how much time do you spend browsing on your phone as you lounge on the couch at the end of the day? Or when you’re in a waiting room? How often do you immediately leave a site because it’s hard to navigate? When a visitor likes the look of your site and finds the information that they were looking for, they’re more likely to come back or engage with your company.
3. Fast loading pages
In the age of constant data streaming and instant answers, we’ve come to expect quick results online. In fact 47% of Internet users expect a site to load in 2 second or less. 39% percent of people will stop engaging with a site completely if content takes too long to load (WebFX). This is especially true for new users of your website who don’t yet trust your company. Providing them with the content they’re looking for in a quick manner, is the only thing standing between a positive interaction for your business, and them skipping to the next search result.
It turns out, search engines also prefer sites that load quickly. Site speed is an important factor in determining your search engine ranking. Google prides themselves on quick search results and it’s a big part of how they came to dominate the search market. In turn, they value sites that load their content quickly, especially as more users are on mobile devices.
A tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can help you see how a page from your site is performing based on key metrics. If you’d like to test your entire site, we’d recommend checking out this free tool from Experte.com. All you have to do is enter a URL and the tool determines the page speed scores for each of your site’s sub-pages. The displayed data is pretty much identical to the data provided by Google PageSpeed Insights.
Improving site speed is a quick way to boost your own site’s ranking. Optimizing images and your sites other assets can make your site more attractive to Google and other search engines. It’s an effective way to get more exposure and grow your businesses.
So how should I improve my website?
Addressing the items above can be a great place to start, but of course no two websites are the same. Odds are there are 1 or 2 items here that can give your site some added value. It’s worth taking the time to identify the best changes for your particular business, before jumping in.
A good way to see how your own site stacks up, is simply to watch how someone uses it for yourself. Ask a spouse or friend to complete simple tasks such as finding your business hours, or learning what year the company was founded. The results are often surprising and can help guide your decisions. We tend to get used to our own site’s design, whether or not it’s actually user-friendly. Taking these steps will help ensure that your website is being an effective tool for your business.