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What Makes a Good Website Great?



Great Website Design

Posted on December 9th, 2015 by David Taplin


Website design has come on leaps and bounds in the last 5 – 10 years, websites have become a vital tool for any business looking to reach out and engage with either their target market or avenues they never thought they could reach before.

Also with the improvement of internet connection and bandwidth speeds over the past decade, websites have been able to become more vibrant, image rich, functionality driven and accessible.

So we all have great access to great websites right? Well not quite. Even though accessibility is no longer an issue (or though some would argue this, depending on who your provider is), the difference between a good and a great website is still a chasm that is there for the closing.

Optimise Every Page to Convert
Now there is online, but off-site optimisation which includes paid search, social media advertising, organic SEO, link building and all of the other elements that create a great marketing campaign. Then there is the online, on-site optimisation, which is pivotal for any website looking to not only gain traction but to achieve key goals such as conversions, enquiries, click to calls, downloads, sign-ups or form submissions.

Optimisation of the web pages to convert does not mean inserting the right keywords or making sure the meta tags are optimised, it means is the page optimised so that when the ideal visitor lands on your site are they seeing everything they need from the second they land on the page in order to:

1) Be immediately engaged.
2) Know they are in the right place.
3) Understand at a glance what you are about.
4) Help bring the reason for visiting to a conclusion as easily as possible.

All pages should be optimised to an extent, as visitors may happen to land on a page that you had not intended them to enter the site through, for example about page, or terms & conditions page, so you need to give them an easy route out of that page to the location they do want to be, without making it difficult.

Understand Your User Journey, No, Really understand it.
When we say understand your user journey, we really mean understand your user journey. From who will be actually landing on your website and the different personas you will need to appeal to, right through to getting the visitors to do exactly what you need them to as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

It’s one thing to have good navigation and an easy way to actually move around the website, however it’s another thing entirely to think like your ideal visitor would, in order to both appeal to them as well as giving them a proverbial ‘pathway of breadcrumbs’ to follow to achieve what they are after whilst they are there.

Write Content with a Passion!
Content is not everybody’s bag. Most find it monotonous and a task they would rather not have to carry out. However this is probably the most important part of any website. It’s the part that engages potential clients and can excite existing customers.

Most treat content writing as an afterthought or as huge chore that someone has to pick up at the back end of a large website design project in order to replace the masses of ‘Lorem Ipsum’ scattered all over the site.

There is a slightly different way to think about this however, and that is that it does not have to be a lengthy and painful task at all. Write with a passion about your business or your product and only write information you feel is relevant to that page. It doesn’t need to be a ten thousand word essay, just short, succinct, descriptive and meaningful portions of well written text.

If you write with this in mind you’ll provide compelling, relevant and unique content in no time at all!

Remove All Barriers for potential Online Customers
The single most important thing you should have in the back of your mind when building, re-vamping, rebranding or refreshing a website is to pull down all barriers in the way of potential customers doing business with you. You may not initially think of barriers in the same way as a potential client will do when they reach the site however you will need to ensure you emulate standing in their shoes in order to understand and tackle these barriers.

These barriers are able to come in many forms, from poor navigation and user experience, to illegible text, bad image or colour choices, not having any Call to Actions or not having them in the correct position on the pages, the list really does go on and on.  The best way to eliminate these barriers is to test your site on new friendly ‘guinea pigs’ or visitors with little or no idea what you are about, in order to see if they can navigate with a pair of fresh eyes as they will see far more barriers than you can ever imagine..

You will never be able to remove all barriers from the outset as potential customers have a great way of finding holes you never thought were there, however with continual, timely and meaningful tracking and measuring in place, you should iron out any remaining barriers in no time.

Keep things fresh and different
Once the website has been completed don’t sit back and relax quite yet. You should always have a plan in place to ensure that there are large parts of your site dedicated to fresh, exciting and changing content. These sections of the site can come in the way of many things, just to give you an idea:

1) Integrated & regularly updated Social Media.
2) Engaging news & updates.
3) Engaging Blog articles and interesting information.
4) Exciting competitions, weekly events, giveaways and offers.
5) Guest writing or articles from other well-known industry names.
6) RSS Feeds from useful resources.
7) Regularly updated & informative case studies.
8) Integrated videos and rich media.
9) Giveaways and reasons to make visitors travel to your site.

Please people not machines
For the best part of a decade now, the term Search Engine Optimisatim (SEO) has had people crawling over themselves to try and outwit the likes of Google, Yahoo and Bing in order to gain an advantage in the search engine listings and push their website up the rankings when someone searches for a certain keyword.

There have been many underhanded (or black hat) techniques used in order to achieve higher rankings and it has always been an issue the search engines have always been keen to stamp out.

It’s for these ‘black hat’ reasons that the likes of Google have constantly updated their algorithms to combat this form of practice. Search methodologies combined with algorithms provide what’s called ‘semantic search’ which are ways that search engines seek to improve result accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they are typed.

All of these improvements in the way the search engines are being developed help, although developers, designers and SEO consultants still think that you can fool a search engine, well don’t. It simply will not benefit you or your website if you approach the design, content, look and feel or any of the customer experience side of things from a search engines perspective.

If you want search engines to respect your website then write and design the site for you ideal user, not for the robots that trawl your site.

We would love to hear from you and your experiences when it comes to web design. Please get in touch with My Hosting Bubble.

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