We put a lot of work into websites, and sometimes feel like we’re not going anywhere. So, here are some quick tips on how to succeed.
- Consistency: Jakob’s Law of the Web User Experience states that “users spend most of their time on other websites.” Think about it, how often do you go to Coke’s website? If you went to that website, and it functioned differently than all of the other websites you’ve used – well, you’d get frustrated and leave. Look at the most popular websites and follow similar themes/functions.
- Intuitive: Make your website intuitive so that users are comfortable and know what will happen next. We are most happy online when we can anticipate what’s coming next because of past experiences – this is because we feel in control of the process. Take us out of control – we feel more insecure and angry with the system.
- Scannable Text: People read very differently online than they do in print. Make it easy for your users to find the information they need by utilizing:
- bulleted lists
- short paragraphs
- highlighted keywords
- and simple text without all the fluff/marketing messages.
- NO PDF’s: Research shows that people hate coming across PDF’s online. It’s a jarring user experience, it relies too heavily on external software, they’re formatted for printing (remember, not the same as for the web), text isn’t responsive for viewing on a phone, etc. etc.
- F Shaped Layout: Dr. Jakob Nielsen and millions of heat-mapping reports have proven that people read in an F shape when reading online. Place important content/functionality on the top and left sides of a page.
- Delete Advertisements: Users HATE advertisements. Therefore, avoid any design or formatting that makes your information look like an advertisement to avoid:
- Banner blindness: users ignore anything that looks like a banner ad due to shape or position on a page.
- Pop-up Purges: nearly all users immediately close a pop-up before they look at any of the information.
- Animation Avoidance: people avoid any areas with blinking or flashing text.
Search Engine Optimization
- Homepages are NOT really important: visits to home pages have dropped dramatically over the past 10 years because people want to go directly to their content. Design your home page so people can quickly navigate to the area they need, and avoid the layout mistakes above.
- Search Engine Optimization: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of developing and designing web pages to gain organic traffic from targeted readers through search engines and is well-known to be one of the most cost-effective forms of online marketing. (earlier post: SEO 101: Search Engine Optimization)
- SEO Facts:
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine
- Search is the #1 driver of web traffic, beating social media by over 300%
- There are over 4 billion Google Searches every day
- 42% click the first organic search position on Google
- 75% of users never scroll past the first page
- 70% of links search users click are organic (means they ignore paid ads)
- 80% say they rarely or never click on paid ads
- 80% of unsuccessful searches result in a keyword refinement
- Content: Good content is the #1 factor for effective SEO. (See Writing for the Web tips)
- Get to the point! Customers visit websites because they want to complete an action – typically to buy something. Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to find the hard details about your products and services. Skip the heavy text and market’ese and make it easier for visitors to find the information they need.
- Page Title: Page titles provide key information for search engines to classify web content. Make sure your page title summarizes what the content is about and is unique per every page in your website.
- Google Webmaster Tools & Analytics: It baffles me how many website managers don’t utilize free valuable tools online. If you want your website to be accurately scanned by Google (the number one website in the world), why not submit it directly to them – for free. If it’s not already done, connect your website to Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics today. Seriously. Go do it!