Essential tips for improving your website

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Is it possible for visitors landing on your website to understand, within seconds, exactly what it is your company is all about? Can they easily access the blog if they want to?  Is your layout, particularly for pricing, simple to understand?  Is the site easy for users to navigate as it is on, say, Online Casino South Africa?  What about your bounce rate? Is it high?

If you answer ‘no’ to any of the above questions it is probably worth taking a critical look at the design and optimization of your website.

A website will not be successful if it is only good in particular areas, say in design or content.   The design of your website needs to incorporate good user experience (UX) offering functionality and it should work well with your content.   It should be clear to anyone landing on your website what it is your company does, who you do it for and why.  It is crucial that your website focuses on your users’ core issues and answers those directly.

Below, are 14 ways to improve your web design. These tips will help to ensure that you are not losing those visitors to your site.

Make sure you have a plan

Before you actually design your website, you need to look at your audience and see what their journey is likely to be once they land on your site.  What will they see and read and how will this convert into a sale.  Having this knowledge will help you create a well- designed website.

The design of your website should be in stages.  Each step should lead onto the next step, in an ordered manner.  It may well be worth speaking with current customers to see the journey they took from being a visitor to becoming a current customer.  This will be helpful to you in creating your strategy.

Things to remove from your website

There are some things that will actually be detrimental to your site and will have a negative impact.  For instance, content that is too long, complicated animations and stocky website images, to name just a few.

You need to get your main points across in the first few seconds that someone lands on your page.  You can do this with short concise blocks of content and pictures and/or icons that have clear and succinct headers.

Make sure that your site doesn’t include jargon and words and phrases that have become clichés. Words like innovative, groundbreaking, cutting edge and next generation have been overused and actually make your content less attractive.

Social Share and Follow Buttons should be Included.

Your audience is interested in sharing what you have. So once you have produced great content and offers make sure that your website has social share buttons. This way you will benefit from more social media traffic generated by those already on your site.

The social sharing buttons are located at the top or bottom of most blog posts.  They are icons representing different social media websites and enable users to share the page on their choice of social media channel. These buttons are a non-aggressive way of encouraging social sharing from your buyer personas.  Two free social sharing tools to check out are SumoMe and Shareaholic.  

Activate Calls-to-Action buttons

Is it obvious to your visitors what they should do once they land on your website? It is important that they are given directions.  Call-to-action buttons are one way of directing visitors to where they should go. We may know this but it could be that we are not using them correctly to help users navigate our website.

It is really easy to have the most bottom-of-the funnel call-to-action and not really helping your users with other calls-to-action which are more top of the funnel.   Is this something you are doing?  It may be something that needs updating.  It is worth adding call-to-actions that direct them to items that will be truly helpful to them and will answer their questions. They are more likely to research your services to explore if you are able to make them a reality.

For instance, a call-to-actions where you “click here for further info”, “sign up for a webinar”, “watch a video” or “download our sample game plan”.

Use the Correct Images

The image you choose should fit the message you are wishing to show your audience. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.  The best photos to use are those that depict images of real things and people.  However, there are techniques that can help you choose the right stock photos. Remember your images should match who you are and what you are trying to express.

Navigation

Navigation is probably the most important factor when designing your website.  It directs your visitors to all the important areas of the site.   If your site is confusing and difficult to navigate you will lose your visitors. They will bounce and find themselves on a more user-friendly site.  They need to be able to find exactly what they are looking for with little effort.

Your navigation should have streamlined content, a design that is responsive and of course good navigation order.  This will help to keep the experience similar for mobile users.

Invest in your Homepage

Don’t be concerned if your homepage seems long.  If it helps users to find their way around your site it will improve their user experience. There are many things you can include but the most important of these are:

Overview of Services, Videos,  About Us, Product Features, Resources, Testimonials and Success Stories.

White Space

White Space is an important design feature. It helps to focus attention where needed. It is also known as negative space, those spaces that are empty of content.

White space is actually very important in that it helps with readability and content placement and is an important element of the design.  It helps to ensure that content is properly grouped and appears organized on the page.

Optimizing your site for mobile use

Today most people have smartphones. It is so important that your site is mobile-friendly.  If your site is not easily accessible via a mobile you will lose business to your competitors.

Ask yourself what people want to achieve when they visit your site. Why are they visiting on a mobile and does my site provide them with the information they need?   The experience needs to be a good one.

Getting Found on the Internet

In order to create an online presence you need to have a website that can be found.   A good SEO (search engine optimization) strategy needs to be developed, looking at the key search terms your audience is using in their search. This should include making sure that your content is related to their needs and requirements.  Videos and blog articles are also examples where you can do this.

Testing Performance

You should check how far users scroll and where they are clicking in order to see how your pages are performing.  Checking conversion paths is important.   It could be some of your pages need updating or design changes.  Sometimes even very small changes like changing a header or a few sentences in your content can make a big difference to how your page performs.

Checking for Broken Links

It is worth checking if all your pages and links are working.  If your site has a lot of pages or is relatively old it is possible that a page or a link is broken.

Create New and Special Offers

The best way to convert visitors is to create offers or items that they will find interesting and attractive.  But the competition is intense.  It behooves you to know what offers and resources are out there and also to figure out what is not there.

For example, if you are in the social media field and you see your competitors are making eBooks on how to develop a calendar, it would be best if you didn’t offer the same thing. Perhaps you could take it in a different direction, designing a tool that has the ability to enter in some info that will generate a schedule which syncs to their Google Calendar?

Whatever you choose to do, it should be different from that of your competitors. Keep it fresh, new and interesting.

Appeal to your Persona – Update your Content

The content of our websites usually use the words “we” and “our”, to describe who and what we are.  These generally appear in our headers.   Today the emphasis should be on “you” and “your”, and how your customers’ needs can be met. Always strive to answer the user’s question:  what’s in it for me?

So instead of “Our success stories” replace it with “Your potential success story”.  This small change can alter how customers view your business.

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