There’s a complexity underlying the surface of a website’s appearance. Why, just yesterday I visited our website and looked at the code behind the home page. It totaled 1,099 lines of garbledygook that no one but a programmer would ever want to understand.
Beyond all that code, the mystery of how things work and how to create the optimal website is all tied up in aesthetics, functionality, user experience and oh, that other important thing – search engine optimization.
And, it ALL has to come together for the design and development teams to be able to achieve…
LOOK – FUNCTION – USER EXPERIENCE… YOUR WEBSITE’S CHANCE OF BEING FOUND
Knowing the systems, strategies and techniques helps deliver the ultimate result. It is quite a blend of knowledge and talent.
What are key elements a visitor wants from a website?
SPEED. A speedy load time for your website is going to be the first impression a visitor will get from your website. A fast load time will probably not be noticed. The annoyance caused by a very slow time will not only get you noticed, it will likely lose your visitor. The waiting game is just not a game most people want to play these days. And, search engines have baked website load time into their ranking algorithms. If your website is slow, that’s a strike against how it will perform in search results.
Slow Loading Page = Frustrated Users and Abandoned Visits
USER EXPERIENCE. Once a visitor enters your website, make things easy for them to find and do. Clearly labeled and organized navigation is key. Website visitors should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly. Simple design, placing elements common to all websites in such a way that visitors feel comfortable navigating is a best practice for the optimal website. If someone has to search more than 30 seconds (I really mean 10, but am making allowances here) to find a way to contact you, something is wrong with your website’s layout.
Leaving a user with no way of contacting you is a no-no in our book. We can’t begin to list the reasons why this is a problem.
MOBILE. Mobile compatibility – your website had better look good and be easy to use on a smart phone, because statistics show that mobile device usage has taken the lead in website traffic. And, Google now ranks websites based on their mobile version first.
Is your website responsive, loading a mobile compatible layout based on your visitor’s device? If so, great! You’ve got that important base covered.
If you are delivering an alternate website for mobile visitors, this is the site Google will index first. If that mobile site is a watered down, lesser version than the full desktop website it will mean there is less for Google to index. Your robust desktop site you’ve worked so hard to develop is not going to receive the attention you hoped for.
SECURITY. Secure communications online are critical in this day and age when it seems like hacking is the flavor of the day. How does one secure their website? Having a Security Certificate is a key step in creating secure communications between your website and its visitors. This is something any good website development company should be able to do on your behalf. And, yes, once again, a secure website ranks better than a “not secure” website in Google’s rankings.
If you don’t have a security certificate for your website, go to any browser and type in your website address. In the upper left corner next to your website name you will see a notice that your website is not secure. This is not the best case scenario.
And, there you have it…
SPEED — USER EXPERIENCE — MOBILE COMPATIBILITY — SECURITY — FINDABILITY
This more than scratches the surface of some important best practices for an optimal website.
So, what can YOU do to improve your website’s performance?
You might want to review how your website comes up on a desktop and on a mobile device – how does it look? How long does it take? Try to put yourself into your visitors shoes. We know it might be hard to be objective, but it’s worth it.
Next, go here to do a speed test: https://tools.pingdom.com
In the blank below the word URL, enter your website address.
From the dropdown menu to the right of your website address, change the Test From location to the one closest to you.
Click the Green Start Test button.
Once your results show up, you can download a report or share the results by email.
This will give you some insights into anything that may be keeping your website from performing at its optimum best.