Talk about a crowd.
With more than 1 billion websites in America, you understand the importance of keeping your business website fresh, timely and relevant so that it stands out in that crowd.
So now that the time has come to redesign your website, you realize that you face a grand opportunity to capitalize on some lucrative and long-term marketing opportunities.
There’s more to designing a website than meets the eye – literally – although following some of the tenets of great website design is a fine place to start. The most experienced and accomplished website experts know that designing a website cannot be done in a vacuum; it must be done while ensuring that a website’s functionality, content and search engine optimization work together seamlessly.
- Design should be visually appealing, polished and professional. While “great design” is somewhat subjective, certain website qualities are universal, including:
- Appropriate use of color, including a palette of two or three colors that appear consistently throughout the site
- Simplicity, including good use of white space and smart use of subheads, bulleted lists and short paragraphs
- Meaningful visual elements – graphics and photos – with minimal to no animations, gadgets and music, which usually are viewed as distractions instead of attractions
- Typography this is easy to read, both in style and size. Black text on a white background is still a go-to choice, but other combinations can work, with restraint.
- Functionality and usability. When people refer to a website’s “ease of navigation,” they’re referring to very certain qualities that can spell the difference between a pleasant journey or an aborted one:
- Fast-loading pages
- Minimal scroll
- Prominent “menu items” on the homepage
- Descriptive links (which the search engines favor, too)
- Links that take you directly where they should
- Contact forms that perform flawlessly
- Content, which is enjoying a huge revival on a number of fronts. It used to be said that “content is king,” but this expression has been supplanted by “quality content is king.” The major search engines now penalize websites that contain copied content and repeat information nonsensically. They also reward those that contain original, high quality content that imparts real value. (And the reward is high indeed, coming in the form of higher rankings.) For all reasons, it behooves a business to create content that informs and educates, not just sells a product or service. Creating great content is not a one-time endeavor; the search engines also respond to new pages of content, which is why many businesses have become devotees of blogging. Hubspot reports that business websites with blogs attract 55 percent more visitors and generate 88 percent more leads than business websites that do not include a blog. A blog also can help a business:
- Establish itself as an expert in the field
- Open a direct channel of communication with its customers
- Burnish its brand and reputation
- Search engine optimization, which is an art and science unto itself. SEO best practices help ensure that a website will achieve the highest rankings possible by the search engines. Creating and designing a website without optimizing it is a lot like buying a car but then not filling the tank with gas. It may look good, but it will get you nowhere fast. Many businesses turn to SEO experts to manage this fluid, somewhat high-maintenance task. But every business professional should at least be familiar with some of the basic tenets of SEO:
- Build each website page around one keyword.
- Repeat this keyword frequently but gracefully; an optimal keyword density is about 2 percent per page.
- Avoid keyword crowding (also known as keyword stuffing);