Until it comes to building their own website, many businesses don’t consider what goes into making a site work in terms of design, use and searchability.
In fact, most people don’t spare a second thought for the elements of a website unless they stumble across a site that clearly doesn’t deliver the answers they’re looking for or jars them in a way that’s hard to pinpoint.
So, what makes a great website? Well, like a beautifully cooked meal that hits all the right notes in terms of flavour, look and ease of consumption, a website has a multitude of ingredients that add up to success.
Here’s an insight into the top 10 factors that make a great website…
From the type of font used to the amount of white space on each site page, design is crucial in reflecting the tone, feel and professionalism of a business.
Importantly, this design also extends to the colours employed, the look of your logo and the type of images used. All these add up to welcome your intended client in and allow them to understand what you represent.
Good design sets the stage that indicates who you are, what you do and how you approach your industry. It can indicate you are fresh and innovative, irreverent and fun, or tried and trusted and a whole lot more.
Tone and text
Just as your website will have a look that illustrates the feel of your business, it will also have a tone of voice.
This tone is captured throughout the writing on your site, including the headlines, sub-headings, general text, and the blogs you feature or the articles you post. Tone is often underappreciated in business, but like colours or fonts, the tone you use conveys who you are and what you stand for as an entity.
Tone should be considered at the same time as you set the imagery and design of your site as the three work together to create a complete feel for your business.
Regardless of what tone your set, it should be consistent. More importantly it should be free of spelling errors, grammatically correct and easy to read.
As the saying goes “a picture paints a thousand words” and images should be a feature of any site. This is becoming increasingly important in an age where the attention span is short and the next business is a click away.
In fact, this year’s Internet Trends 2019 report by renowned analyst Mary Meeker illustrated just how critical images have become.
For centuries people have learned to write and share words offline and one on one…, the report reflected, yet for two decades people have been ramping up image and video creation, online and to many.
“People are increasingly telling stories via edited images and videos,” Meeker concluded.
And perhaps Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom says it best when he notes: “People have always been wired for visual. Our brains are wired for images. Writing was a hack, a detour. Pictorial languages are how we all started to communicate. We are coming full circle”.
That makes carefully curated imagery imperative to the look, feel and story of a website. Coupled with good design, imagery is a hugely compelling asset to any brand and website.
Imagery isn’t just restricted to static pictures either – it extends to video, renders, 3D pictures, augmented reality and more.
Behind every business is a story, and your website is the place to convey it. This story extends from who you are (about us) to what you do (services and products) and what you stand for (mission and vision).
When clients learn, understand and relate to your story they become invested in you and the products and services you offer.
In addition to a site that is beautiful in design, has a tone, feel and tells a story, at it’s core, a business website should be functional. And in a time-poor age, that functionality starts with speed.
According to KISSMetrics, every second counts when it comes to loading times.
They note 47 per cent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less and 40 per cent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. However, according to Mach Metrics, most sites have a load time of eight-11 seconds.
Meanwhile, it’s not only prospective customers who penalise a business for slow load times, Google does too. In July 2018, Google rolled out a new page speed algorithm as part of their ranking for consumer experience.
It’s no use having a beautifully designed and fast website, if it doesn’t contain the information customers actually seek.
There’s a reason people are visiting your site and most likely it’s to find out essential information like the products or services you offer, your location information, your contact information and your opening hours.
Often, they will also be seeking gauge the price you charge.
That means, when designing a business website, you need to carefully consider the questions customers most commonly ask. In retail, that includes whether an item is stock and at which of your outlets for what price. In service industries, it’s the type of expertise you have, and the services you offer.
Meanwhile, content marketing takes this to the next level. When considering your regularly updated content, such as blogs, you should also carefully think about the questions your customers ask. By furnishing them with insight and expertise while answering these questions, you keep them coming back to your site and your business.
Ease of navigation
In a similar vein, these nuggets of wisdom and gems of information should be easy to find. Your website should offer clear and logical menus that allow people to readily find information.
Meanwhile, essential, regularly searched information like your contact details and location should be in the footer of each page. This area might also contain your site map, so people can simply scroll down to navigate to the most important parts of your website.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) might sound complex, but the concept actually isn’t. It involves setting your site up or “optimising” it to ensure that it can easily be found by search engines such as Google.
The better optimised your site is, the higher it ranks in the search engine results, and this is incredibly important as research indicates:
- 93 per cent of online experiences begin with a search engine.
- Google currently holds 90.1 per cent of the total search engine market share (Google + Google Images), followed by YouTube (owned by Google), Yahoo!, Bing, and Amazon.
- 75 per cent of people never scroll past the first page of search engines
At its most simple, SEO involves ensuring you pay attention to the keywords that your clients would generally search when looking for you, but it’s far more comprehensive than that.
Google also has algorithms that rank websites on how often their content is updated, how readable it is, how long people stay on a site (bounce rate), and how fast it is to load (as we mentioned before).
It’s no secret we are becoming more dependent on our smart phones, and the likelihood is this is the device that clients will first use to find your website, which makes mobile optimisation a must.
In fact, the latest Internet Trends report indicates Americans now spend 3.6 hours a day on their mobile compared to 3.3 last year.
Importantly, time spent on mobile now outranks time spent on laptops/desktops (two hours a day) and other devices (0.7 hours a day) meaning mobiles are the device of choice when it comes to searching the net.
In the meantime, KISSMetrics also notes: “Mobile internet users expect a web-browsing experience on their phone that’s comparable to what they get on their laptop”.
Google now also ranks sites for mobile optimisation, and as of July this year introduced new algorithms that sees them rank all new websites based on the mobile version first.
Search Engine Land explains: “Mobile-first indexing is simply how Google crawls and indexes the web. Instead of looking at the desktop version of the page, Google looks at the mobile version of the page”.
“In more simple terms, Google is crawling and indexing your web page based on how it renders on a mobile phone versus a desktop computer. Now over 50 per cent of what Google indexes is indexed over mobile-first indexing”.
A website is like a personal publishing platform for any business, and as such it should deliver an experience that wows, enthrals and entices its audience. One of the most effective ways of offering this is through interaction.
Customers should be able to engage with your site in multiple ways. Whether it’s leaving feedback, buying a product via e-commerce, emailing you directly, making a booking or downloading a brochure, a potential client should be able to use and engage with a site.
This extends right through to the ongoing content you offer on blogs. They should be able to leave comments, ask questions, share the information and more.
At Openseed we specialise in planting the seeds of customer reach through compelling brands and SEO optimised websites. We then nurture kernel of great content, devising strategies and storytelling to support business in their ongoing conversation with their customer. Ultimately it reaps an ongoing harvest that delivers business real and proven results.