Let’s be honest. The web world has changed a lot in the past few years.
And I mean a lot.
Even in the past year.
Website designers, developers and marketers are becoming more and more savvy to what web visitors want from a website. Which means that new and updated websites are being created to give visitors the best possible user experience.
So whether you like it or not, if you’re playing the web game, you need a website that keeps up.
I’ve recently worked on several website update projects with Chris, the online marketing specialist from Octoply. The objective of updating the websites was to improve their usability and search engine optimisation, thereby generating more bookings for the businesses that own the websites.
The updated websites were built on WordPress and included a blog as part of their strategy for increasing web traffic.
Below is a list of the features that I love about these updated websites. Some have been covered before in past articles. And some are new.
1. Don’t put the Content in a Box
I originally described this feature as “using the full width of the screen”. Chris confirmed that the design has the colour running to the edge. So by not putting the content in a box, it feels more open.
And while we’re on the topic of content, if you want a website that goes the distance and turns visitors into customers, get your web copy professionally written. It can make a massive difference to the results you achieve.
2. Use a big font to make it easy to read
I first heard using a big font mentioned at the ProBlogger conference a few years ago. And I’m seeing it on more and more websites.
Chris suggests making the body fonts 16 px with 24 px line height.
3. Have a blog feed of your recent articles on the Home Page
We regularly mention how having a strategy of regularly adding quality content to your website is a great way to increase your web traffic. It also helps with Search Engine Optimisation.
When you put in the time and effort to create new content, don’t keep it covered up on your “Blog” page, have a feed of recent articles on your Home Page so that first time visitors can easily find and engage with your articles.
4. Use quality images
This is an oldie and a goodie and is particularly important if you have an e-commerce website. Always display your products in the best light by using high quality images.
Also read Tessa’s tip on why you should resize images before uploading them.
5. Keep the design, main navigation (and everything else) clean, simple and uncluttered
The days of crazy busy websites with slashes of colour, different coloured fonts and competing images are (hopefully!) numbered. I still see them and I bounce away immediately so that if the website owner is checking their Google Analytics they’ll soon realise it’s time for a website upgrade.
Read Tessa’s article on 14 Great Reasons to Keep your Web Design Simple.
In terms of the main navigation, it can be really tempting to link to every single page that you think is important. But, in reality, this makes your website less usable because it works against Steve Krug’s web usability principle of “Don’t Make Me Think”.
Ideally have 7 or less links on your main navigation and use simple words to label them, such as “About”, “Products”, “Shop” and “Blog”.
6. Incorporate video
Our web peep Abbe has written several articles on the value of using online video as part of your marketing program.
Online video is immediate, has an impact and search engines love it. Engage your web visitors and keep them on your website for longer by adding a relevant video to your Home Page or key Landing Pages.
7. Make the key info eg phone number, location and opening hours really easy to find from every page.
This is a topic that we’ve mentioned a lot over the years, but it still surprises how often I go to a website and can’t find their key info without digging around to find it.
Put this information somewhere that it will appear on every page, like the header, side bar or footer.
I’ll finish with this quote by Chris, which I think sums up a really important tip when upgrading your website
The BIGGEST thing, that nearly nobody does – forget your ego. The website isn’t for you, it’s for your customers. Keep them in mind, their problems, what they want/need, and everything will work out well 😉
What do you think of the tips above? Have you noticed that more and more websites are incorporating these features? Got any more to suggest?
I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. And in the mean time we’d better review which of these updates we need to make to the Grassroots website!
Image courtesy of idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net