Keyboard with search bar

02.11.2019

SEO  |  7 min read

Key components of an optimized web design

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Megan Dennis

When a potential customer visits your website, they’re trying to find a reason to invest their time and money on your brand or company above all others. In this little game of persuasion, your web design plays a role in eliminating decision fatigue or any notion of second thoughts within your user, and to convert them into a customer.

In this article, I’ll outline the best practices to employ when creating a user experience that is smooth, streamlined and convenient across all channels.

Organization and navigation

An organized, easy-to-navigate website is probably one of the most valuable elements of website design, as it helps users navigate from one section of the web to another and, hopefully to your check-out page or preferred action (i.e. signing up for your event, etc.).

For this purpose, it’s best to keep your website navigation intuitive and minimalistic to simplify the process of interacting with your website for your visitors. Keep your navigation at the most prime, prominent spot: ideally, at the top of every webpage. Your menu—or list of your various webpages—should be to the left of the page, while the search bar is best kept in the top right corner. Feel free to get creative with your layout, but remember to structure the layout from the viewer’s perspective.

Most likely, you’ll want your website visitors to take some kind of action. This is where your (aptly-named) call-to-action (CTA) is most crucial. CTAs are clickable or interactive buttons that are generally visually striking and distinguishable from the rest of your website’s content.

In fact, you probably come across a CTA at least once a day: “Download now!” “Read more” “Sign up!” and “Go to cart” are some of the most common. Essentially, a CTA’s function is to create urgency and to effective transition a visitor into a customer.

OfferFactor has a perfect example of these elements in play. Notice how the website navigation bar tracks the user’s movement and moves accordingly, while the shopping cart icon is visible on the right and tracks the total value of each item in the cart. This is handy because it helps customers keep track of their spending as they go, rather than at the check-out page.

OFFERFACTOR

Speed

In today’s busy world of on-demand everything, if your website doesn’t load quickly, you can count on losing potential customers, especially for online retailers. According to SearchEngineJournal, three seconds is the optimum page load speed. If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, you’ll see an increase in bounce rates.

To help cut down on page load speeds, use compressed images and keep gif, video, and Flash elements to a minimum. You’ll also need a speedy web-hosting service. Some of the most popular web-hosting services include HostGator and GoDaddy.

Web analytics and diagnostic tools like Google’s Lighthouse and Pingdom also provide valuable insight regarding the elements of your website which need to be optimized for faster web crawling.

Mobile

By 2020, Statista predicts a whopping 4.78 billion people will be on mobile. That’s more than half the world’s population! This is why it’s so important for your website to be optimized for mobile. After all, have you ever tried viewing a business’s website on your phone that was created for viewing on desktop? Chances are, it’s hard to navigate and doesn’t translate across devices well.

To combat this, make sure all your buttons—including CTAs—are of a sufficient size to make for an easier navigation process. For further ease-of-use, you can also replace the “redirection” format of the sections on your website in favor of a simple scroll-down transition.

Just take Subway as an example:

Subway desktop

Subway mobile

A lot of options were removed from the main navigation bar in the transition from the desktop to mobile version. The mobile website includes three main sections, which are also the most widely-used options. All users have to do is scroll down the page and obtain as much information as possible. Additional details can be accessed via the drop-down menu which can be done by clicking the vertical lines to expand it.

Error prevention and handling

A general rule of thumb to improve your website optimization is to make sure your content doesn’t include any broken links. You should also make sure there are not other technical errors present on your website. Any technical issue has the capacity of affecting your SEO rankings and the overall user experience.

It is always recommended to run your online platform frequently through diagnostic tools to address any issues. Apart from the ones mentioned earlier for page speed analysis, consider using Google Search Console, as this is one of the most popular platforms for auditing websites for impeccable user convenience and SEO.

In the unfortunate case that something slips in between the code and the user does come across a minor error, even if it’s on the user behalf, you need to put your presentation skills to good use. Don’t be vague by just going ‘“An error has occurred” or “Error 404.” Either sound a bit informal and going for a friendly approach with something like “Wait there, buddy!” or you can give them a brief explanation like “Server timed out, please be patient” and then subsequently redirect them to a different section of the web.

You can also get creative with error handling as there are a plethora of templates you can follow. This prevents any kind of frustration among the users and thus retains them to continue browsing in a clever way. A good example of this is IMDb which clearly incorporates movie references in their error messages like this one with a funny twist on an iconic line from the movie Fight Club.

IMDB

Conclusion

It’s a lot of work, turning a website visitor into a customer. There are a lot of steps to take, and a lot of things to keep in mind when designing your online presence. But by understanding the key components to an optimized website and taking advantage of the plethora of resources available to help, you might find your sales goals easier to reach.


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