As we look to 2020, we can reflect on how much the internet has grown and transformed over the past decade. Websites today are by no means the same as they were ten years ago. The way they look, feel and function is vastly different to their 2010 counterparts.
Today, there are over 1.5 billion websites circulating the internet. Although the number of active sites is far less – around 200 million, it’s essential for any business to understand what differentiates the good from the bad. Or better yet – what makes a great website?
We all know that first impressions count. Your website is often the first digital impression of your brand so it’s crucial that it positions your brand in the best possible light. The very best websites grab the users’ attention, keep them on the page, and hopefully lead to a conversion. They clearly and concisely communicate everything you want potential customers to know and remember about your business.
How your website looks ultimately affects people’s perception of your business. An aesthetically pleasing website starts with your brand. Branding is one of the best ways to differentiate your business from competitors. Consistency is key when it comes to the following elements:
Different colours can convey different meanings and can impact moods, feelings and behaviours. Great websites have considered colour psychology and chosen a colour scheme that matches their brand’s personality.
There is also a psychology behind font choice. While there are so many fun fonts to choose from these days, readability is the most important consideration. San serif fonts are widely used because they read so well on the web. It’s also recommended to stick to two fonts and use these consistently throughout your site and marketing communications.
High quality images are not just a ‘nice to have’ – they actually add value to your site by helping you to better explain important points and illustrate products and services. Images can consist of original photography, stock images, charts and graphs, custom designs, vector graphics and even user-generated images. Images that are too big can slow your site down so be wary of image size.
Video content has exploded in recent years. Many of us have short attention spans when browsing online so short videos are a fantastic way for you to quickly deliver your message to visitors. Engaging videos lead to visitors spending more time on your site and considering your value proposition and calls to action.
When it comes to usability, these are the features which will enhance your website.
It is essential that your website functions optimally on all screens and devices, from smartphones and tablets, to wearables, TVs and laptops. Responsive design reacts with the user in mind, instantly recognising the screen size, platform and orientation and responding with dynamic content.
The number of people accessing the world wide web via mobile now far exceeds desktop users. In response to this change in July 2019 mobile-first indexing was introduced by Google. These changes mean that content and links from mobile friendly pages are prioritised. Mobile friendliness also provides a much more intuitive user experience.
All pages of your website should load quickly and completely. The majority of web users expect a site to fully load within 2 seconds, with a whopping 40% abandoning a website that takes over 3 seconds to load.
If you want potential customers to be able to find your business, SEO is a must. A website that is optimised is viewed more favourably by search engines like Google and has a better chance of ranking well.
The tiny padlock symbol that sits before a URL in the address bar is known as SSL Encryption. Basically, this gives visitors peace of mind by letting them know that your website is secure. Establishing trust is especially important for e-commerce sites as people want to know that their personal details are safe.
Think of how many times you’ve closed a website because it was a headache to navigate. Simple, intuitive and functional site navigation not only improves usability for visitors, it also helps SEO by allowing Google to crawl and subsequently index your site more easily.
Content is king. A website without content is like a book without words. Quality content is relevant, original and engaging – the more quality content you have on your website, the better you can inform visitors about your business. A rule of thumb for every website is to have four basic pages: a home page, about us, services/products and contact page. Content is great for SEO, increases traffic, encourages engagement, can help you generate new leads and sales, as well as adding value to your product or service by educating visitors on how it can solve a problem they are facing.
Call-to-Actions (CTAs) are a staple part of web content. Clear and engaging CTAs encourage visitors of a site to take some specified action. These short, sharp prompts can create a sense of urgency or gently nudge users to learn more, make a purchase or contact your business. Effective CTAs make it easy for customers to take the next steps in their buying journey.
A brand is more likely to be liked and viewed favourably if it has a website that is designed to foster trust. This can be achieved by incorporating elements of social proof in the form of testimonials, reviews, ratings, statistics, certifications or client logos throughout your website.
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