“OK! I’m yours for five seconds; wow me, or I’m out!”
Your website is the anchor for all your digital marketing efforts. Before your visitors move on, you’ll be allowed mere seconds to convince them to stay. How to make that time count is what innovative website development is all about.
If all the quickly changing digital waves have you feeling like a washout, know that you don’t have to overhaul your website completely to bring it up-to-date. Awareness is crucial, though, and with just a few tweaks and focus, you can be the go-to online hangout in no time. We’ve lined up 10 ways to improve your website that you can start on today. And, of course, today is not a day too soon.
1. Use White (or Blue or Yellow!) Space Properly.
The term “white space” refers to any part of your website page that does not have images or text. Certainly, it does not need to be white to qualify. Many companies make the mistake of filling every available spot, thinking that this gives the impression that they are chock-full of helpful information.This strategy ends up leaving nowhere for the reader’s mind to absorb anything they are being served!
Studies show that white space enhances your visitors’ experience. A user will read your website content by properly using white space. Therefore, it is essential to incorporate white space as part of a good site design. For example, check out the luxury retail giant, Nordstrom’s website. Notice how they leave ample space around a highlighted item, so, nothing competes visually for attention. Also, content becomes more legible by enabling the user to focus.
Like everything else on your website, white space needs to be used with aligned intent. Too much of it, above the fold (visible without scrolling) content may be jeopardized. Determine the most important information on the page, and strategically place the white space around it. If a user has to scroll down too much, you’ve already lost them. The key is to find the balance between what is most important to communicate at the top and surround that with some space to highlight the image or text.
2. The Need For Speed
You know this one from personal experience. Because time is precious, no one has the patience for slow page load ups. Before those three flashing dots have a chance to blink twice, you’re bouncing to the next guy. Also, if your website has not been formatted with mobile devices in mind, you’ve just lost three-quarters of interested users.
According to analytics, your “bounce rate” increases by 20% with just an added five seconds of extra loading time. Due to this dire statistic, you should test your site by going straight to the source. Google offers a testing service that can pinpoint the reason for the holdup.
Sometimes, image file size seems to be the slow speed culprit. There are simple ways to fix this. Websites like compressor.io have free tools to compress images and instantly get you up to speed.
3. Color Code and Create Calls to Action With Traction
Certainly, clear direction is necessary for our attention-addled culture. A call to action that is visually enticing with action words highlight intention is your meal ticket. Test out your site’s color scheme and what the color psychology (Yes-it’s a thing!) is projecting.
You may be shocked to find out what a difference in hue can make. Think about the message you want to project. There are prime color choices that send a cerebral message for honesty, energy, or even increased appetite. So, create your CTA buttons in sync with what your customers expect you will deliver.
However, don’t discount the importance of the words you choose to trigger a follow-through action. Therefore, you must excite the users to do something. Emotionally engaging them is the key to connection. So, make your words strong and time-sensitive. For example, “Sign up now” or “Get started,” tells me exactly what to do and where to do it.
4. Highlight Hyperlinks
Certainly, links are an important navigation tool. However, many mistakenly make them a hidden treasure map instead. Highlight and underline any links so that your users know you’re guiding them.
Also, the length of your links is something you can easily tinker with to increase website functionality. The longer the title, the clearer they are to identify. For example: “To check out the APS website, click here.”
5. Shoot for the Target with Bullet Points
Instead of lengthy paragraph form, bullet points outline key info in a short amount of time. It doesn’t have to be a boring list, either. Get creative and use icons or symbols as your point markers.
There are free, easy-to-use bullet point guides that you don’t have to be a web designer to follow with professional results. Go over your site with a fine-toothed comb for overly wordy explanations that can be easily whittled down for users to skim quickly.
6. Use Real Images
Be real. No one is on your site to see images that display beautiful portrayals of services or merchandise that aren’t yours! So, if you use stock photos, you’re not fooling anyone. As a matter of fact, stock photos are a sure way to create distrust and lots of bouncing away.
Once again, the bottom line here is creating a connection. While stock photography may be of high quality, it fails to align the user to the brand. Nothing can do that but the authentic, relevant images strategically placed throughout your site.
7. Make Your Headings Be Your Tour Guide
Including keywords in your headings not only ups your SEO score, but it also streamlines your visitors’ experience. The Googlebot gives more weight to headings over content, so be certain your headings are saying what you want them to.
Headings should stand out in size and color, and describe the content that follows accurately. For example, well-designed headings with consistent content come from beauty behemoth Sephora. With a quick glance, the user can see exactly where a click on the bold colored and worded header will be taking them.
8. If They Don’t Recognize the Landscape, They Won’t Know Where They Are!
Like in other things in life, trust comes from consistency. (Just ask any parent!) The fonts, colors, photos, and layouts all have to speak the same branding language. Whether I’m on the home page or a product description, I should be able to tell that I’m still with you by more than just the company logo in the top corner.
“Am I in the right place?” This is a question I often find myself asking when navigating through inconsistent sites, and when I do, I usually end up leaving. Inconsistencies in design lower the quality of the products and services you’re providing in the mind of the user.
9. Unearth Your Unfound Pages.
404 errors, otherwise known as “Page Not Found,” can annoy your visitors enough to shade you out completely. While search engines don’t punish you severely for a 404, a user will. They click on a link that takes them on a ride to nowhere! This is a sure recipe for road rage.
Next to experiencing a slow page load time, running into 404s is a highly frustrating event for a user, and it completely disrupts their journey through your website. Simply put, check your Webmaster tools to search for crawl errors. Additionally, you can make sure that when your user lands on a 404, it at least provides them with a visually pleasing option to get back on track.
10. Get Mobile, Get Social, Or Get Out!
If you are not certain if your website is mobile- friendly, it is in your best interest to find out fast. Not only are three-quarters of your audience using mobile devices to navigate your website, but Google will penalize you the way they know best for this infraction. And, the last thing you need is a lower rating. There are tools available for discovering your websites mobile device responsiveness.
While you adapt your website to the genre of finger shopping, you may have also noticed that social media networks have taken over the world. With 800 million active monthly Instagram users, and 100 million daily Twitter followers tweeting getting with the program has never been more crucial. Don’t become a media dinosaur. Of course, be a gracious host and offer social buttons for all your visitors because we all know what happens to dinosaurs. Also, there’s a chance that they will like what they see, share their thoughts on their profiles, and boost your presence even further.
It is not necessary to shell out thousands of dollars on a complete website redesign to get immediate results. With these few fixes, your user-friendly site should bring you the visitors that turn into loyal brand advocators. And that makes everyone say “happy surfing!”