If you’ve ever been involved in launching or marketing your website, you may well agree that business goals might not be the first consideration on a web developer’s list, particularly if they’re building a complex site, or working on a particularly tricky integration. However, when built and designed well your website can act as your strongest salesperson for your business, promoting the benefits of your product or service 24/7.
Getting the basics of web development right is therefore vital in helping you achieve your business goals, through increasing search engine rankings and creating a user-friendly website that encourages conversion. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the fundamental basics you should be considering when briefing your development team.
Structure and keywords will significantly increase your search engine ranking
- Don’t overlook structure and SEO, here’s why...
SEO needs to be considered throughout the process of building your website in order to rank highly for your potential customers’ searches on Google (and other Search Engines). If you want to gain that sought-after organic traffic, SEO needs to be planned upfront for development, not as an afterthought.
Your website domain, structure and navigation are all vital in helping Google to crawl your pages and work out what content can be expected on which pages.
- Your domain name should normally be the same as your company name, supporting brand throughout the site - keyword stuffing within domain name is not the viable tactic it used to be.
- TLD (top level domain) is important as a geographical signal to search engines, for example, for a UK based company using .co.uk immediately identifies the target SEO country to search engines.
- Your URL and site structure can have a major impact on ranking, consider whether a flatter structure or a keyworded category approach is right, ideally keeping things within 3 or 4 levels for ease of navigation and indexing.
These are valuable not only from an SEO perspective but also for increased user experience satisfaction. If these are done well both a human and a search engine should both be able to understand what a web page will contain before going in to it.
Well thought out development can improve your customers’ experience
- What you should be considering for every visitor of your website
Websites that are intuitively structured and easy to navigate are going to result in less users dropping out before converting. You need to think beyond just the initial visit, one poor experience affects brand perception and the likelihood somebody’s going to use your site again. With the increasingly level playing field of the internet, if a customer can get the same thing elsewhere with less hassle, they probably will. If they’ve have a bad experience, they probably won’t try again next time, and they may even tell others to avoid your site.
Careful planning, research, and thinking about every interaction on your site is important to get the best experience for your website users.
- How easy is it for your customers to use your website?
- How quickly can they achieve their objectives?
- Do they get a warm fuzzy feeling using your site?
Planning is only the start though. For any development project, quality assurance and user testing are key weapons in your arsenal. Beyond that, monitoring how real users are behaving on your site will provide insight into how to refine customer experiences.
Open up your site to all with improved accessibility
- This isn’t just responsible development, it can be important for business too.
A website with good accessibility means that all people can use your website including those with disabilities. And it’s not just visual impairments that should be on your radar;
- Can visitors not able to use a mouse comfortably navigate your site?
- Are you using colour to signal meaning? In which case what happens if your visitors can’t distinguish between two or more colours?
- Does your video content rely on hearing?
There are plenty of accessibility testing tools available, and consideration should be made across all of the above and more.
- And there’s an SEO benefit too!
As well as optimising your content in ways such as adding descriptive alt tags, having a website that screen readers can interact well with widens your potential clientele and improves search engine rankings, as search engines favour more accessible content.
Keep your well earned traffic by developing a fast website
When it comes to user experience, it’s been shown that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, which is a huge percentage of potential sales lost at the first hurdle. This demonstrates that even if your page is beautifully embellished with a range of fancy functions and quality content, a large chunk of people won’t make it that far if your page speed is slow.
- Even worse, if users abandon your site and go back to their search results to choose another site (pogo-sticking), it’s going to affect your search ranking for that search too!
There are many web development factors that can affect the speed of your website, such as your hosting provider, loading external files, the number of plugins used and whether you’re using caching, to pick just a few. Getting these right from the very beginning is going to save you losing any more traffic than necessary.
Developing for all devices
- Your users are in charge of how they view your site, not you!
A responsive website is designed to work well and look good on a range of screen sizes and devices - and with the public accessing websites on their smartphones more than ever, this is particularly important. Optimising a website for smartphones also provides benefits in terms of SEO, as Google’s algorithm benefits responsive websites. With mobile first indexing now a reality - read Google’s official rollout stance document - this is now critical rather than advisable.
Choosing an experienced and knowledgeable web design agency is therefore vital in ultimately ending up with a website that can fully support your business. We’ve got 15 years’ experience in developing search engine and user experience optimised websites, taking on projects that range in complexity from simple brochure websites to large scale enterprise sites with extensive integration requirements. Click here to find out more about how our web development can offer you ROI.