One of the biggest failures of any business today is neglecting its digital presence. Many companies erroneously believe that in order to be successful they simply need to have a Facebook page, but that is no longer enough. If you want your business to prosper, it’s imperative to have a great company website.
Perhaps the most important feature of website design is a little element I like to call, timeliness. You can easily figure out whether or not your site is timely by asking a single question. Does your website look like it would fit in the modern world, or does it look like something from the early 90s? Here are a couple of examples of the latter category:
A common misconception when it comes to website design, is that it only invovles visual aesthetics and style. While visuals are certainly a huge factor in a website’s timeliness, they are not the only concern.
Do you remember what old school websites actually looked like? Do you remember how clumsy and sluggish they were in terms of usability? Stop for a moment and picture them. They had huge, oversized buttons, solid and very bland colors and lots and lots of text. That’s mostly because website design and HTML code hadn’t progressed far enough to support advanced techniques.
Fortunately, all that has changed considerably over the years. Now, you can build an entire website with just images if you really wanted, stripping text from the design completely. But, a good user experience isn’t just about appearance it involves so much more. Mechanics, navigation, and accessibility are all equally, if not more important. For instance, you don’t want your mobile users to have a terrible online experience because the shopping cart system doesn’t work on smaller screens.
So, how do you truly know if your website is acceptable in the modern world? Let’s break each component and find out if your site is “timely” or not.
Can you browse the site efficiently on a mobile device or tablet?
Does your website support mobile browsing and is it optimized to provide an enjoyable experience on mobile platforms? If the answer to this question is no, then you’ve most certainly failed at providing a timely website.
Customers now expect the same online experience on a mobile device as they get on traditional desktop computers. Thanks to all the recent advancements in responsive design, it’s easier than ever to create a website that looks great on mobile.
Here are a couple of examples of what your site can look like from a smart phone. See how easy it is to view and access everything?
The benefit of responsive design, is that you no longer need to create a dedicated mobile website. You can simply optimize it to accommodate smaller screens and touch based navigation.
Browse your own website with a mobile device. If you run into complications or experience visual bugs (images that are too large, ads jutting out of the wrong places), then there’s a good chance your customers will encounter the same problems.
Pro tip: Ensure your website can be easily navigated using mobile devices.
Are the images healthy and fresh?
You’re probably wondering how could an image look healthy? Have you ever seen an old picture that’s been worn and disfigured because of age? They turn a yellowish color and lose their vibrancy and saturation. The retro theme is great in certain places, but your business website is not one of them.
For crying out loud, we now carry devices capable of HD visuals in our pockets. Take advantage of that. Don’t use clipart, poorly cropped images and lower resolution photos on your website. Not only does it look bad It looks bad sure, but it’s also considered unprofessional.
Your website is a statement, one that says your brand is fresh. Using poor quality images is not a good way to do that. In the example above, you can see only one picture on an old looking background that doesn’t fit the words on the page. Is this how you’d want your website to look to potential customers?
Pro tip: Always use clear images that are of a high resolution.
Have you put the most important information at the front?
There’s nothing wrong with clicking through a couple of menus and adding interactive dialogue buttons. That’s part of website design. However, the most important information needs to be displayed right up front for potential customers and visitors.
Do your potential customers know about your business or brand? Do they know what you sell or what kind of services you provide? Don’t make it a chore for people to figure out the important information. We browse the internet because it’s convenient, readily available and incredibly easy to access. Don’t make your website the hurdle in making a sale.
Is your website showing up in search results?
Before anyone comes to your website, they are likely to search for something using a search engine. So, the best way to get noticed on the web is to be one of the first few results they see when the perform a search, say on Google.com. However with hundreds of similar companies competing for the same bit of search real-estate, it’s increasingly difficult to have a high enough ranking to be noticed.
A cottage industry (known as “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO for short) has evolved around search engine ranking and it’s imperative for all modern websites to embrace some of its key principles. Broadly, SEO has three steps you need to follow when creating a website:
- Research: Find out what are the keywords you want to target for your business. Also look at what your competitors are targeting. Use this information to set your goals.
- Set your goals: All websites have three main goals: drive traffic, gain exposure, and build revenue. Good SEO helps bring in traffic, it’s up to you to figure out what to do with it to convert them.
- Marketing: When you’ve figured out what you want to do, you can start optimizing your website, building links, networking, and creating great content that spreads your relevant keywords around.
Unfortunately, SEO is not something that can be implemented at a later date. Your website actually needs to be designed from the ground up with SEO in mind. The same holds true for mobile design though, so if your website is not optimized for either of these elements the initial design process is the best place to start.
A lot more than simple design goes into a successful website. If you follow these simple points however, you’ll be well on your way to providing a timely website.
What’s your top tip for a website redesign?