Web Design & Development
When was the last time your organization took a long look at its website and thought about an update? If you can’t remember, it might be time to tackle that website design project. But how exactly do you know when it’s time for a new website design? There’s no set formula, and a redesign can be a big commitment, of both time and resources.
No need to panic, though: some elements of the task are fairly standard, and here are some of the things to consider when you embark on a revised website design.
Easy navigation, easy-to-use layout, an aesthetically pleasing design, quality content
These four basics are essential considerations for any website design. Try to take a look at your site from the point of view of a first time visitor. If it’s overcrowded with text and images, or if a viewer can’t find your core message amidst a slew of dizzying drop-down menus, they’ll likely click away after a few seconds, and there goes your lead gen efforts. Developing these foundational components of website design will generate trust between you and the people checking out your site.
The first thing on your website design to-do list is to prioritize your launchpad website. This page is the first impression visitors have to your site. One of the most common mistakes companies make here is oversaturating their front page. Sure, it’s tempting to want to give readers all the information they’ll ever need about you right away, but for most people that’s too much, too soon.
Start small: your launchpad website should focus on your brand, your mission and what makes your organization unique. Tell them why they should want to keep exploring the site. Make your contact information easy to find, so they can follow up with any questions they might have. It might seem obvious, but if your contact information isn’t prominently displayed and easy to find, you’ll likely lose potential leads. Visitors would rather move on and find someone else than have to work at finding your phone number, e-mail or social media links.
One sign that it’s time for a new website design is if your users are not converting, meaning that too few visitors are engaging further by signing up as subscribers, making donations, volunteering, etc. One reason this might be happening is if your website design wasn’t planned with a specific goal in mind. That makes it difficult to track the metrics of how well the site is operating. Be sure to determine in advance what you want to accomplish with a site redesign and align those objectives with your marketing and sales efforts.
If you determine that people are leaving your site shortly after finding it or not interacting enough with your Calls to Action (CTAs) or content, there are tools to help, such as Google Analytics and heat mapping. Google Analytics monitors your website performances and tracks visitors to your site. Heat mapping software such as Hotjar show you where site users are clicking or scrolling, pointing out what they’re interacting with on your site.
Another factor to keep in mind when you’re working on your website is load time – you don’t want your load time to be more than a few seconds. If your website has a long load time, savvy visitors might take that as an indication that something is wrong on your end. And let’s face it: these days users expect instant gratification. If the information they’re looking for isn’t immediately available, another choice is just a click away. Also, check, recheck and triple check your website design to ensure that it’s fully optimized for mobile use, as more and more traffic to your site is coming in this way. This is an increasingly important thing to consider and one you definitely don’t want to overlook.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial component of the Growth-Driven Design formula and must be a primary consideration in any website design plan. Fewer than 10% of people look beyond the first page when conducting a Google search. In fact, most barely look past the first two or three results. SEO is a vital tool in getting on that first page and as close to the top as possible.
Google systematically modifies its algorithms so that websites can’t just jam their pages full of keywords in order to get more hits. The way to achieve this has shifted from a more qualitative approach rather than a quantitative one. What does this mean in terms of website design? Include keyword research, different header tags, page titles and alt tags to make sure you’re getting ranked in Google for the factors that matter to you. Make your keywords count, and align them with what your visitors are looking for as they start their search.
When was the last time your company did a full website design? Depending on how long ago that was, you might not be optimized for newer browser options or mobile interfaces. Optimizing for mobile use is imperative. Statistics show that over 80% of Internet users in the United States are browsing on mobile devices, and this percentage is expected to grow even higher in the coming years. Make sure your mobile site is fast and efficient – you don’t want your site displaying like a jumbled brick of HTML code.
If it’s been a while since you did any major website design, you might need to get up to speed with social media access. Links to social media must be included prominently on your website. Connecting via your social media portals is an integral way to reach a bigger audience. Social media has become a central part of the marketing process and attention to it must be paid in your revised website design. More users are discovering companies like yours through social media portals, so take advantage of the free(ish) exposure. An added benefit is that with more links to social media, your SEO rating is bound to go up. A great two for one deal!
Website design is a substantial project, which is why the time, effort and strategy you put into it is so important. If you’re thinking about doing a redesign or looking to generate more traffic, remember that website design deserves as much attention as technical functionality elements. A well-designed website is perhaps the most effective marketing tool you have.
Still feeling a bit intimidated by website design? Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Web Design. This guide packs tons of great information into a straightforward, easy to consume format that can help you elevate your web design knowledge. And if you want to take it a step further, get in touch with us about how we can help grow your digital presence.