What makes an optimised website design and build
Currently, in B2B situations the majority of prospective purchasers head straight to the internet to search for products or services that they need. Therefore an optimised website design is critical if you want to get found and convert visitors to customers.
This means that whatever your business (be you a product or Service provider), a website is your essential starting point online. Your website is available 24 /7, 365 days a year. Your website is an online shop front / salesman / technical capability in an increasingly digital world. Just think about how digital usage increased during the pandemic.
This means that your website will need new content adding, ongoing updates and maintenance to continue to help potential customers find, choose and trust your business over your competitors.
You should adopt the mindset that your website is never finished and needs regularly updating
You only get a single chance to make a first impression and an outdated website could create a poor first impression, which could mean you losing out on potential leads. To help your website, you will benefit from creating relevant social media profiles i.e. LinkedIn could be suitable for your business. Additionally adding your business details in relevant online directories such as Google My Business to help boost your online visibility and traffic to your website.
In this article we will go through what helps to make a good website and provide actionable tips and guidance on how to improve your website. These include elements such as search engine visibility and page speed, through to user experience UX and website security.
Before smart phones only a few years ago, web design used to be pretty straightforward. As long as your website could be viewed properly on a PC Desktop computer, laptop or Mac, and you were able to have a website that would display correctly.
Nowadays, it’s a different story. A significant amount of internet use happens on
mobile devices, which means your website needs to work on more screen sizes than ever before. Note: within the B2B environment you might be surprised how little usage of your website is done on a mobile. If you would like to know the importance of mobile to your web visitors we will help you with Google Analytics
Web designer Ethan Marcotte coined the phrase ‘responsive web design’ which has since become the current concept in web design. When an optimised website design is responsive, it has a flexible layout. This means that when someone visits the website an switches from their 24-inch desktop monitor to their 13- inch Chromebook. To their 9-inch tablet, or smartphone the website automatically reformats its content for the available screen size.
Many websites are still tricky to use on mobile devices and even if you are only receiving minimal mobile search traffic this can have an impact. If a site has only been designed with full-size computers in mind, it can be hard to read and frustrating to use on mobile devices. If visitors struggle to navigate your website on their smaller mobile phone devices, they may well leave your website. If this happens it could mean that you miss out on valuable prospects and business opportunities.
Additional benefits of Optimised Website Design
Money & Time
Creating an optimised website design that is responsive doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. You don’t need to spend time and money creating separate websites for mobile devices, tablets and other devices, these days. The WordPress web design platform enable sites to be built responsively, so they automatically adjust their content to suit the device the site is being viewed on.
Providing a great viewing experience
With an optimised responsive website design, your visitors can view your content at any time using whatever device they choose. Responsive web design allows you to provide a consistent and great user experience, irrespective of whether each user is using a smart phone, a tablet, desktop computer, a smart TV, or other device.
Improved search rankings
The mobile-friendliness of a website impacts its ranking in search engine results, this has been made very clear by Google. In its simplest format Google likes responsive websites. As Google will most likely account for approximately 90% of your organic search traffic, it’s sensible to take note.
Getting the website user experience right
A key part of your customer service offering is User Experience (UX). If your website offers poor user experience, through an unattractive layout, confusing navigation, or an unintuitive and lengthy process for completing a task, visitors will end up being frustrated.
If this happens the most likely result, is that they’ll leave your website, and if this happens they will potentially go to a competitor.
Your content needs to be concise, free from BS, or irrelevant details and divided into logical menus, sections and sub-sections.
Whilst mobile users are used to scrolling key content should always be placed ‘above the fold’ (at the top of the page) so users don’t have to scroll down to find it. Ensure that users can find their way around (navigate) easily. It might seem simple but its essential that visitors can get back to the previous page or home page easily if they take a wrong turn.
The needs of website visitors who might be visually impaired or dyslexic should be considered. Site improve provides valuable information and a free website accessibility checker.
This means choosing colour schemes that give a good contrast of text to the background colour, ensuring font styles are easy to read and that text size isn’t too small (and is ideally scalable). Additionally text descriptions should be provided for images so that screen reading devices can read it out to the website visitor. An additional benefit of adding alt text is its beneficial for search engine optimisation!
Clear and reassuring step-by-step instructions should be provided for carrying out tasks such as filling in a form or paying for a purchase. If users are submitting personal data, especially payment details, ensure that the submission process is secure, and that the website makes this clear.
Visitors who are out and about are even less inclined to spend time digging around for the information they want, and the smaller screen size can make it difficult to spot small or hidden buttons. So for an increasing number of users, it’s also important to make sure your website can be viewed on mobile devices.
Knowing what your users want and need is critical to give good user experience. A short satisfaction survey, or feedback form on your site reassures users that you’re listening to them. Customer feedback provides valuable information for future website features or updates to improve your website’s user experience.
Improving Search Engine Performance
A key goal for every business website is to appear high up in Google search engine result pages. Organic search may be the only way that potential customers are able to find you.
The exact algorithms that Google uses for indexing, finding and ranking websites in its search pages are a very closely-guarded secret. However there are, a few tried-and-tested approaches that you can use when building your website to help boost its chances.
For search engine optimisation, structuring your website well is essential. Experts in SEO suggest it’s best to have no more than three levels to your site structure
- home page,
- sections or categories,
- and sub-sections/sub-categories.
This is because web crawlers or ‘spiders’ (the technology used by search engines to read and index websites) often won’t explore any more deeply than this. In simple terms this means Google won’t find and rank your pages.
Your home page should link to each section of your site, which in turn should link to each other. This makes it easier for the spiders to find their way around the site.
Page titles and meta descriptions
Strong, well-researched keywords are crucial for helping your website rank well in search engine results. When building your site, include relevant keywords in page titles and meta descriptions so they display in search engine results, as well as throughout your page content. It is important that all words and sentences reads naturally as the AI technology used by the search engines can identify “spoofed” wording.
Images and SEO
For any images you do use, make sure you give them descriptive alt tags using strong keywords to help spiders index them correctly. Search engine spiders are unable to ‘read’ images, so any text embedded in image files will not be indexed. If relevant content is overlooked, this can have an effect on how your site is understood and ranked.
Techniques to avoid
It’s important to remember that there’s no easy way to improve your search engine rankings quickly. If you try and adopt dodgy techniques you will eventually be found out and penalised.
Be patient, building a well-planned and well-researched site with useful and relevant new content added regularly is the only thing that works in the long term.
Avoid including keywords on your site which aren’t strictly relevant ( this is referred to as keyword stuffing). Avoid dishonest techniques such as white-on-white text or any other techniques which claim to drive extra traffic ‘overnight’. Search engines such as Google and Bing frown on techniques like this and, if you’re discovered, your page will lose its ranking or even be de-indexed entirely.
Improving Website Conversion
For most B2B businesses with a website, your main goal is to motivate the website user to take action of some sort. Action could come in many forms
- Providing name and email address in order to sign up to your newsletter,
- To click the buy now button in order to purchase a product
- Download a whitepaper, tech spec sheet or ebook you’ve created,
- Simply contact you by calling 01733 361729 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Your overall aim is to get as many website visitors as possible to take action. You want the visitor to enter the site and do something, not simply visit the site, bimble around and then leave. We want a visitor to do something
- you’ve converted them to a mailing list subscriber
- to place an order and become a customer,
- to pick up the phone and engage in a conversation
- to use the live chat and have some of their immediate questions answered online – without having to talk to someone, but get an answer from a real human
There are numerous ways you can encourage your website users to “convert” by using these simple techniques that will encourage users to take that next step.
Create trust – give to get
Want a visitor to sign up to a newsletter or document? Then provide an incentive. You get their email address and in return they get something too. A few ideas would be:
- Entry into a prize draw – its amazing how much the chance to win a T-shirt or Hoody can provide a temptation
- A discount voucher – by signing up get a % off your next purchase
- A free “technical report” or “Ebook”. Make sure that whatever you offer provides genuine value. We have seen numerous examples that when you get them they are useless documents. Whilst you may initially capture an email, by destroying trust you will probably see then soon unsubscribe
- First month free offer – often used in conjunction with needing to supply credit card detail. The logic being that you use your first month and then forget to unsubscribe your subscription
- Access to some interesting articles – some of the newspapers / magazines do this whereby great content is only partly shown until you sign up
- If you want the website user to call you, make sure your phone number is clearly shown on your website. Most importantly make sure your phone is answered promptly by a competent person able to answer any technical questions
Make communication easy
The easier something is to do, the more likely people will be to do it.
- If your ultimate goal is to get people to call your business, then make sure your phone number is on every page. Put a telephone number at the top right hand corner and footer of the website on every page. Don’t make it difficult for a visitor to find. On a mobile device the telephone number should appear at the top and be clickable (dialable) on touch
- If you want someone to complete and submit a form, make sure it has as few fields as possible. For a newsletter subscription ideally just an email address, and at most, email address and name. If you dont need to know address, business size etc don’t ask for it. Form filling shouldn’t be a chore for people
Who do you want your customers to be?
Whilst it can be great to see lots of people signing up, or contacting you, if these people ultimately are not customers then this is a waste.
Make sure when people visit your site that they know who your product or service is aimed at. If you sell to trade only, make this very clear on every page. For example, if you’re a swimming pool manufacturer and only service architects and commercial clients then make this abundantly clear, this will stop domestic / household customers contacting you, and will save time for both of you
Site Speed Matters For Optimised Website Design
To give website visitors the best experience possible a fast loading website is crucial. Search engines use how quickly a web page loads as one of the performance criteria. We have probably all experienced the frustration of visiting a website and then waiting for content and images to load before you can use the site.
There are a number of factors that may slow down a website’s load time, these include
- poor website hosting;
- errors in the site’s code
- using outdated formats like Flash,
- having content-heavy pages – filled with video’s, animations, poorly optimised images etc
Large image files in particular adversely affect your website’s loading time. It’s therefore crucial that all of your website’s graphics are in appropriate, commonly used file formats (such as PNG or JPEG) and are compressed to reduce the file size as much as possible without sacrificing image quality.
Google also advises eliminating any unnecessary graphics and presenting textual information in a text format rather than putting it within an image – this is also good for accessibility reasons, so that screen readers can access this information.
Once your image files are optimised, you can further add to their SEO value by giving each of them an informative file name. Call your images something useful and understandable, with words separated with hyphens. This helps search engines understand what your image is about.
Providing descriptive “Alt Text” alongside each image is an important way to supply further contextual information
Make Sure Hosting Is Secure, Fast and Reliable
Google’s search algorithm favours websites that use a secure data transfer protocol called HTTPS. You may see this also referred to as “SSL” or “having an SSL certificate”.
Data security is a high priority these days, so search engines look at how seriously websites take the security of their users’ data.
A HTTPS connection creates a secure channel between your website’s server and your visitor’s machine. That way no-one can see the data that’s transmitted between the two parties.
The growth of online shopping, prompted HTTPS mainstream use, helping to keep private details like addresses and credit card information safe whilst “in transit”. Now there’s an expectation that all sites should have HTTPS, not just ones that collect sensitive data.
Is your site HTTPS?
To identify if your site is using HTTPS,
- Type your website’s address into a web browser eg www.webdesignpeterborough.co.uk
- When it loads, click on the URL
- This should cause the browser to display a prefix – either “https://” or “https://. You may also see a padlock icon to the left of the URL if your site uses HTTPS.
- If it stays on “https://” or you don’t see a padlock, then you really should think about upgrading your website to use HTTPS.
Note: Google penalises sites for not being
Benefits of having a HTTPS-enabled website include:
- Being trusted by your customers
- Faster site speed, as the new HTTP/2 protocol favours HTTPS websites
- Increased analytics data
- Access to new tools, as Google and other companies increase the security required to be listed on services like Google Maps
There are no good reasons for delaying making your website HTTPS as soon as possible. If you would like more information, or help in going through the process click here
Optimised Website Design Questions
1: Your website is your online shop front in an increasingly digital world. Even if you are not selling online, it could be the first contact point a prospective customer has with you
2: Check how your website looks on as many browsers and device types as possible. Just because your site looks great on a huge monitor doesn’t mean a smartphone user will get the same experience.
3: The design of your pages should be attractive, simple and easy to read. Don’t use unreadable stylised fonts, ridiculously small font sizes or strange text and background colour combinations.
4: If you want your website to be found on Google, when building your site, include relevant keywords in page titles, meta descriptions, as well as throughout your page content. Crucially make sure content reads naturally, stuffing words in will ultimately get you penalised.
5: It doesn’t matter how good your website is, if your product or service is poor and unsuitable you will ultimately struggle
If you would like to know more about Optimised Website Design contact Andrew Goode MBA, MSc, FCIM Click here to arrange a call
Other articles linked with marketing metrics that may provide additional insight. Marketing metrics and analytics, marketing ROI Planning , marketing revenue analytics and Marketing Measurement Metrics and Website Design
Optimised Website Design Summary
The key elements of optimised website design
Optimising website design involves incorporating key elements that enhance user experience, improve search engine visibility, and drive conversions. Here are the key elements of optimised website design:
- User-Friendly Navigation: Design an intuitive and easy-to-use navigation menu that allows visitors to find information quickly. Use clear and descriptive labels for menu items and keep the navigation consistent across all pages. Implement a logical hierarchy and consider incorporating breadcrumbs for easier navigation.
- Responsive and Mobile-Friendly Design: Ensure your website is responsive, meaning it adapts to different screen sizes and devices. With the increasing use of mobile devices, it’s crucial to provide a seamless experience across smartphones, tablets, and desktops. Responsive design improves user satisfaction and helps with search engine rankings.
- Clear Call-to-Action (CTA): Place clear and prominent CTAs throughout your website to guide visitors towards desired actions, such as making a purchase, contacting you, or subscribing to a newsletter. Use contrasting colours, compelling text, and persuasive placement to make your CTAs stand out.
- Fast Loading Speed: Optimise your website’s loading speed to provide a smooth and enjoyable browsing experience. Minimise file sizes, compress images, enable browser caching, and utilize content delivery networks (CDNs) to ensure your pages load quickly. Slow-loading websites can lead to high bounce rates and lower search engine rankings.
- Engaging and High-Quality Content: Create valuable, relevant, and engaging content that appeals to your target audience. Use a combination of text, images, videos, and other multimedia elements to make your content more appealing and informative. Well-crafted content not only keeps visitors engaged but also improves search engine visibility.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Implement basic SEO principles to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results. Optimise meta tags (titles, descriptions), use relevant keywords in your content, create descriptive URLs, and utilize header tags (H1, H2, etc.). Properly structured and optimised websites have a higher chance of ranking well in search engines.
- Visual Appeal and Consistent Branding: Design a visually appealing website that reflects your brand’s identity and values. Use consistent branding elements such as colour schemes, fonts, and imagery to create a cohesive look and feel. A visually pleasing website builds trust and enhances the overall user experience.
- Effective Use of White Space: Properly utilize white space (also known as negative space) to provide visual breathing room and improve readability. Avoid cluttered layouts and allow elements to have enough space around them. White space helps visitors focus on important content and improves overall aesthetics.
- Easy-to-Find Contact Information: Ensure that your contact information (such as phone number, email address, and physical address) is easily accessible and prominently displayed on your website. Include a dedicated contact page and consider integrating contact forms or live chat functionality for better customer engagement.
- Analytics and Tracking: Implement website analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to track visitor behaviour, traffic sources, and conversions. Analysing data helps you understand user preferences, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your website further.
Remember, an optimised website design is a continuous process. Regularly monitor user feedback, track performance metrics, and stay updated on the latest web design trends to ensure your website remains effective and competitive in meeting your business goals.