Very few site visitors consider what actually happens behind the scenes of developing and updating a website. That’s just fine, as long as your website is meeting your marketing goals. But you’re not a visitor, you’re the content creator — and as a site owner, you should understand these six facts about web design and development.
1. Your website will only last you about two years.
Web browsers and devices used to access the internet are always evolving and changing. The way the websites are designed and developed must change as well.
In order to remain current and relevant, professionals in the digital world have to stay on top of the latest coding standards, browser capability updates and search engine algorithms. An outdated website runs the risk of not displaying correctly in the browser, having unexpected formatting issues or not showing up effectively in search engine results.
A site that’s even two years old may be antiquated if it has not kept up with these changes. Your site requires updates and maintenance as new devices and browsers change how sites are accessed and displayed.
2. Your website looks different on other people’s computers.
When you’re viewing a website from your work computer using Google Chrome, it probably looks a lot different from your friends’ computer at home when she browses the same website through Safari on her iPhone.
It all depends on parsing and rendering — or the way that browsers translate code and display it on your screen. Some browsers will the load the code in a very specific order and sometimes browsers won’t recognize certain code at all.
Browser differences can make it tricky for you to create a website that provides a great experience for everyone. That’s when the professionals step in. They are experienced and familiar with HTML and CSS standards, browser issues and the ways to work around potential hurdles.
It’s your developer’s job to make sure your website looks great and functions properly across all mediums and browsers. Browser capability testing identifies potential issues and establish necessary fixes for those issues before a website launches. Making your website optimized for mobile is now more important than ever.
3. Your website’s source code influences your search engine ranking.
You may have the most visually-stunning website in the entire world, but it won’t matter if no one’s looking at it. The way your website is coded will help an audience to find your website more easily. When people search for keywords in Google or another search engine, they expect to find exactly what they’re looking for.
The way a website is coded even affects how your search engine listings look — from the title of the web page in the search results to the small meta description of your site that appears below the title. Search engines are a great source of new traffic to your website and there are many additional steps that can be taken to fully optimize it. It all starts with coding best practices and ensuring that the foundation of your site is in good standing with the search engines.
4. Images can have a positive or negative impact on your site.
Multimedia content such as images and video can be a powerful part of a website. If used improperly, they can also significantly damage a website’s performance. For example, large image and video files can dramatically slow down the load time of your website. If a visitor has to wait too long for a page to load, there’s a strong possibility that they’re going to get impatient and click back to somewhere else.
To make sure any multimedia content engages visitors rather than drive them away, web professionals need to use images and videos that are optimized for websites. These optimized filmes make sure your page loads quickly while still offering that rich imagery or video content.
5. There’s a big difference between responsive design and mobile design.
What is this automagical conversion that happens when a person switches between their smartphone and computer? There are two very different approaches to shifting screen sizes — either mobile or responsive design.
Mobile design can be restrictive. It shows people a separate and often very limited version of your website that’s used on smartphones and tablets. Because mobile websites usually provide visitors with the bare basics the site has to offer, they won’t get to see your site in all its glory or be able to use it to its full potential.
On the other hand, responsive design is extremely flexible. It allows websites to resize and reflow their layout based on the visitor’s screen size and gives them a consistent experience. From large-screen, high-resolution monitors all the way to the smallest smartphone touch screens, it’s important to have an experience that is suited to each of those individual devices. Responsive websites will simply adapt to their environment while maintaining the same stunning images, typefaces and navigational properties.
6. Your website’s design influences visitor behavior.
The Internet has forever changed the way we read and browse content. If your visitors can’t skim through your website and identify key information quickly, they are going to leave. Simple as that.
Web designers strive to create sites that guide viewers to the most vital information. Heat maps and analytic tools help developers determine which buttons and links are popular so they can continually improve the user experience with future updates on the site.