The perfect website is the Holy Grail for web designers and we at Active Design want to be your Indiana Jones, leading the way to success. We have come up with some recommendations to help you achieve this illustrious goal.
The perfect website is achieved when all of the key components; design and content, call to actions, on-site SEO, and code, all work together seamlessly and intuitively.
DESIGN & CONTENT
A first impression is lasting and this is why your website’s headline can make or break your website. The headlines job is to accurately represent the website and to reassure the user that they have come to the right place. It is also extremely important that the headline has in-built SEO (search engine optimisation) properties and a ‘clickworthy’ quality so that users are attracted to the page through both SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and social media platforms such as twitter.
Navigation is fundamental to the usability of your website. The navigation of your website should make it easy for users to find the areas they want to visit whilst also guiding them into areas that you want them to go. To help you to achieve this goal, brainstorming the kind of things users are trying to accomplish when visiting your site, then keep them in mind whilst designing the navigation component of the website. It helps to categorise pages in one way or another to create intuitive flow between pages. Using images has not only been proven to be more memorable but some users exclusively use pictures to navigate through websites. When using pictures in your web design it is important that they are clearly relevant to the navigational pathway. In terms of website usability, supplying the user with breadcrumbs ensures that the user is aware of where they are within the site and allows them to backtrack to where ever they have been in the past without tedious use of the ‘back’ button. They usually appear near the top of the screen in a format similar to this: Womans > Clothing > Skirts. Finally every website should have a footer. Footers provide information such as; ‘About Us’, ‘Contact Us’ and links to other relevant websites such as social media platforms or blogs. They are an expected component and are often a last resort for users having trouble achieving their goal on the website. They can also be looked at as an opportunity to showcase some originality and flair.
When creating copy, we often forget that it is not only for humans but for robots too. To make the job easier for the robots responsible for SEO, the copy must be unique with key search terms imbedded within it. This ensures that your website with appear on SERPs when relevant search terms are entered. Once the robots have been taken care of you can start to craft your copy with the users in mind. Most users will appreciate simple, straightforward language with minimal jargon as it makes for easier and more genuine communication. The way the copy is presented is of upmost importance as many users will appraise a website, looking for the copy that is specifically relevant to their aim. This means your copy must be ‘scannable’ and to achieve this the font must be legible (correct size and typeface) and the line length and height comfortable to read. It is also important to make the spacing between sections of text clear.
CALL TO ACTIONS
A ‘call to action’ is the one action that you want your users to click above all others. Often it is repeated multiple times throughout your website and due to this fact it can be the source of immense web design improvement. It pays to research the type of call to action your site is reliant on and improve it according to what the research recommends.
To attract more users to your site, it is a great idea to provide current users with ‘sharable’ content so that they can share your material on their social media sites and publicise your site at the same time. To make this approach effective it is important to provide the user with social sharing buttons to remind the user that they can share the content and should. The ‘count’ feature provided with social sharing buttons can encourage users to share content as it shows them how many other people have shared the content before them. The feature encourages them to conform to the actions of others, a phenomenon called ‘social proof’.
Site architecture is hugely important for your SEO status and the terms used for your navigation should always correspond to the language used by your user and URLs should be keyword rich. Your site should be organised into thematic ‘silos’ based on semantic relevancy. A flat site structure that incorporates silos and cross silo linking is typically the most effective option for high SERP ranking. Additionally it is wise to make the deepest level of your site only three clicks deep.
Title tags are important to think about in terms of SEO and should be no longer than 70 characters. It is wise to craft them to fall into one of four structures:
- Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword – Brand
- Primary Keyword – Brand – Secondary Keyword
- Primary Keyword – Value Proposition – Brand
- Primary Keyword – Unique Selling Point – Brand
Your meta description plays no part in SERP rankings but is important for ‘clickability’ and ‘sharability’. It should be no more the 155 characters and be a clear and concise description of the page.
If you want images to be recognised by search engines then it is important to provide clear Alt Tags (or Alt attributes) that describe clearly what the image represents.
Well-optimised code is hugely important for both users and SERP rankings. This is because fast load times improve the user experience and therefore reflects well on the search engine.
There are many ways to improve upon your site speed and image compression is one of the more straightforward methods. You can improve page load times by optimising your images, the key is to find a balance between aesthetics and load time.
A responsive design, a web design that responds to its environment and adapts to the device it is accessed from, is a recommendation from Google.
Good luck and have fun creating your perfect website.