A website is obsolete if your desired demographic finds it hard to find or navigate through. Users often leave a webpage within 10-20 seconds of arriving there, which means you have a limited amount of time to capture your audience’s attention and convince them they have come to the right place to find the information they need. Contrary to popular belief, the overall look and feel of your website are not nearly as important as the content you are presenting. Read on to learn best practices for website development to attract your desired demographic.
Search Engine Optimization
Your website will do little for you or your business if your desired demographic cannot find it. This is why investing in SEO is crucial to develop a quality website. SEO is the process of increasing the quantity and qualify of website traffic navigating to your site through unpaid, organic measures. Users trust Google and therefore trust the websites that show up on the first page of Google when they type in a specific search query.
Search engine optimization requires an in-depth understanding of the needs of your audience and the words they use to obtain the information they require. After you understand what your audience is looking for online, you can tailor your website to match the words they are using when using online search engines. These words are known as keywords.
Organically embedding a keyword throughout your site will, over time, show Google you have authority on this topic, which will increase your rankings for this specific keyword. It is essential your embed keywords naturally throughout your site, as Google will flag sites that randomly add keywords throughout their content. By understanding the best practices for developing your website, SEO allows you to speak the same language as a potential visitor and increases the likelihood the right person will find your site.
Fast Load Times
Because our attention spans are so short, users will navigate away from websites that don’t load immediately upon arrival. Even if your site has excellent content, if your user has to wait for the website to load, they will seek out an alternative. Every 1 second, your website is loading, customer satisfaction is delayed by 16%, page views by 13%, and conversion by 11%. If your website takes 5 seconds to load, your bounce rate (the percentage of people who navigate away from your site) will skyrocket to 90%—speed matters.
To ensure your website loads as fast as possible, use a functioning digital platform, optimized for speed such as WordPress, Weebly, or Wix. When ranking sites, Google considers page speed as one of its qualifiers; therefore, faster websites will translate to better rankings and is crucial to best practices for developing your website.
You should know how you want users to flow through your website before you publish your site. Your website should have an easy to use the navigation bar, so users don’t have to dig to find relevant information. Consider adding in a search feature so a user can find specific information that may not be obvious from the navigation bar. Always have a detailed sitemap that lays out all relevant pages and allows a user to understand the content you have available quickly.
When designing your website, imagine your user navigating through each page and use this to guide your decision making rather than focusing on small design details. Map out “decision points” in your flow to determine spots where your user has an active choice. This dynamic choice could be clicking on an article, signing up for an email list, or making a purchase. You want to pay extra attention to “decision points” and make sure your call-to-action is clear to increase conversions.
If you already have a website published and are looking to understand your user better, download the User Flow Report from Google Analytics for your site. With this report, you can see which page a user typically finds first, how they navigate through your website, and, most importantly, which page makes them leave your site. Understanding this flow will give you a better idea of how you can improve the overall design of your website.
Businesses often focus on the look of their website and pay little attention to the overall goal of the site, the user flow, and SEO. Pretty pictures and having a professional home page can be important, but understanding how your user will navigate through your site and making this process as easy as possible is arguably much more critical. Focusing on your user will make your site more relevant and ultimately increase your conversion rate.