The need for speed
OK, let’s start with an easy one. Speed is important. Hugely important.
You will know from personal experience that there is almost nothing as annoying as a slow loading website page. And we’ve all been a situation where we have become frustrated and hit the back button. For the business owner, this potentially is a lost customer.
And while consumers have always appreciated a fast website, they are not alone…the Google algorithm is a huge fan as well. Search engines reward fast loading websites by bumping them up the rankings.
Google has more than 200 ranking factors for its search engines, but speed is right up there among the most important.
If you have a website that you’d like to test out for speed, Google has a great free online tool called PageSpeed Insights. Not only does it provide a score out of 100 for both mobile and desktop website speeds, it also provides useful insights into how the speeds can be improved.
Maximise your site speed, by reading our article, Top 15 Ways to Speed Up Your Website in 2022.
Website content…is king
It’s sometimes easy to be caught up in the website design, fancy images, branding, bright colours, snazzy animations….and don’t get us wrong, this stuff is important (and we’ll cover it below). But what should never be forgotten is what your website actually says i.e. its written content. As a leading Gold Coast website designer, we know that content is king.
Good written content, as we know it, is SEO optimised, interesting, current / fresh, it doesn’t sell (or is very subtle!), audience-led, easy-to-understand and follow, educational, actionable and provides value. It is also mixed in with professional visual content.
Poor content is none of the above, along with a steady supply of spelling and grammatical mistakes (never forget the difference between there and their! – visitors notice, and respond accordingly).
While most of us are never going to be writing for The New York Times, or even The Gold Coast Bulletin, if you decide to write your website content it’s important that you present your business as being professional.
What good is a website if it doesn’t bring in the moolah, right? This is relevant for all websites, whether it is an e-commerce website design looking for an online transaction or a local plumber presenting as a reliable set of hands in a call-out emergency.
When we initially speak to potential clients, one of the first questions we ask is what outcome they want from their website. It’s quite often called a call-to-action (CTA). It could be a transaction, the exchange of an email address, a phone call or even a subscription.
Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, setting your website up for this goal properly is paramount. The best Gold Coast website developers use a range of techniques including:
- Only having short succinct contact forms.
- Adding live chat.
- Incorporating a healthy dose of multimedia (video and images)
- Testing everything. If something doesn’t work, try again.
- Including social proof, including reviews/testimonials.
- Improving your website speed.
- Speaking directly to your audience (for example, localise your content).
- Adding a pop-up to your website.
- Adding a money-back guarantee
- Being really clear about your proposition.
OK, it’s time to move onto the fun stuff, the magic dust even. I’m talking about website design and website development, it’s when the 11 secret herbs and spices are added to your project.
Let’s face it – with about 1.2 billion websites now on the internet, it’s important to stand out from your competitors by having a little bit of wow factor. To be clear, we are not for a moment suggesting that this overrides your business branding, it’s more about adding a little bit of pizazz so that you impress your visitors and turn them into paying customers.
In 2022, here are a few design trends we are currently seeing:
Who doesn’t love the 80’s, right? We all get a bit of a warm and fuzzy feeling when we hear our favourite 80’s song come on, and that’s exactly the feeling you get when seeing the retro colours and design on websites. An example of this can be found right here on this website – check out our website design Gold Coast page.
Bigger and better typography
There are tens of thousands of fonts available, so getting creative with fonts is nothing new. What we are seeing however is a tendency to use much larger fonts, moving fonts and to turning fonts into ‘hero’ images.
These are particularly popular among creative businesses where the focus is on the visual portfolio – architects, designers and artists. Many argue it is the simplicity of this design which is driving its popularity. From a functional perspective it also works as it can be easier to navigate one page rather than a traditional structure (particularly on mobile).
Be sure to read our article: What Makes a Good Website in 2022.
While chatting about website design can be glamourous, getting into the nuts and bolts of website structure can be less so. Despite this, it’s importance can never be dismissed. After all, your website structure – how your website is organised, laid out and linked – plays a hugely influential role in your online success. It also helps Google ‘crawl’ your website more easily.
The ultimate plan when designing any website navigation should be to provide the visitor with the most convenient way to find out what they are most interested in. Users should not have to work their way through countless pages, instead information flow should be logical and succinct. If it’s not, your visitors will become frustrated, they will leave quickly and take their business elsewhere.
Worse still, Google will notice all this…they see everything and take note of your website’s bounce rate and the time each visitor spends on the website. The longer your visitors stay and are engaged, the more impressed Google becomes.
There are plenty of tips that we can impart on how to improve your structure, however the key recommendation is to take your time planning your website. Don’t rush any decisions without consideration. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience (and test your theories if budget and time permits). Also never assume that a visitor is always arriving on your home page first.
Getting it right early, can save a lot of time later…and could even potentially save your business.
Mobile optimisation/responsive website design
In 2022, about 55 per cent of all website traffic comes from mobiles (this includes tablets, by the way). It’s a growing number, made even more impressive as only ten years ago it was about 11 per cent.
Websites need to cater to this audience. Some call it mobile optimisation, others call it responsive website design. Regardless its hugely important. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of websites are mobile friendly, however there still some slack Gold Coast web developers out there and some disappointed customers (the-get-what-you-pay-for-crowd, now is the time to put your hands up!).
So what is mobile website development? It is the process of designing and developing your website so that content and functionality perform as well on mobile devices as it does on desktops. It is important for website designers to use responsive code which allows for websites to adapt to various screen sizes and orientations of any device that is viewing the content.
Put simply, it’s not a five-minute fix or afterthought. Good website designers will give serious consideration as to how the user experience should change on the smaller screen.
Tactics most commonly used include:
- The use of large and easy-to-read text (don’t make visitors have to zoom in with their fingers!).
- Simpler layouts, including larger buttons and links.
- Smaller/reduced images (and sizes).
- Shorter contact forms where possible and auto-fill fields.
- Eliminate pop ups (or if you must use them, ensure they are easy to close with a thumb).
- Test before committing, including a speed test.
SEO and your website
OK, so you have set up your website. It looks very schmick and the content appeals to your audience but there is a major problem…no one is visiting the page.
That’s where search engine optimisation (SEO for short) enters the conversation. For those who don’t much about SEO, it refers to how prominent your business is on search engines following the use of specific targeted keywords by prospective customers. It’s hugely important in bringing in your desired traffic and growing your online presence and business.
It therefore shouldn’t be an afterthought. It goes hand in hand with the website build, like peas and carrots.
As stated already, Google has as many as 200 ranking of factors that go into determining how high your website appears in the rankings. Some of the more prominent ones include:
- Content (including keyword selection).
- On-page optimisation.