6 Top Website Tips to Stay Ahead of the Competition
In business, as elsewhere in life, first impressions count. That’s why it’s so important that your business premises are smart, tastefully furnished and business-like – and the same principle applies in the digital world too.
So any web pages which look tired, shabby or out-of- date are effectively encouraging visitors to walk on by. As top-performing sites continually demonstrate, an online presence is all about customer experience.
Taking a critical look at your own website is the first step towards putting yourself in pole position ahead of your rivals. So here are six tips to kick-start the process.
1. Streamline navigation
With mobile web usage having overtaken desktop browsing for the first time, your pages simply must be mobile-optimised.
That means understanding that the average mobile user is short on time and patience.
Hidden menus, sideways scrolling and slow page loading speeds are major irritations in this environment, as is having to ‘drill down’ to deeper layers just to get what you want. Users should be able to find what they want within three taps, preferably two.
2. Upgrade graphics
Mobile screen colour displays now offer superb crispness and depth of colour as standard, which has implications for the visual impact of your website. Eschew dreary and unimaginative stock images; invest in high-quality imagery to give your site premium-quality aesthetics.
If you’re an ecommerce site then that must include high-grade product shots, because with today’s HD screen resolutions amateurish efforts have nowhere to hide.
If budgets are tight, it’s still possible to find decent images on free stock photo sites like Pexels. However, the choice is often limited, so sometimes it’s worth using paid-for platforms like Adobe Stock or Shutterstock.
3. Retire your image sliders
Like many once-loved tech fads, image sliders have now fallen out of favour and thus will make your site seem dated.
Far from being mere fashion victims, image sliders are being abandoned for practical reasons. They closely resemble banner advertising, and so are largely ignored, and effectively divide your user’s attention, which kills conversion rates.
Their movement also forces a visitor’s eyes to rapidly refocus and, arguably worst of all, takes navigational control away from the user.
4. Offer valuable content instead of marketing junk
Web pages stuffed with keywords reached their zenith more than 10 years ago. Back then, a poorly written article on hedge trimming, with ‘hedge trimming’ tediously repeated in every single sentence, could perform well on a Google search for ‘hedge trimming’ (see how annoying it is?).
Now the accent is firmly on content that is useful and/or entertaining, easy to read and with relevant inbound and outbound links embedded contextually. Whereas Google may once have been impressed by keyword density, it has now become very good at recognising (and rewarding) sites that are successful in giving readers what they want.
5. Throw away anything redundant
Question the relevancy of everything; does that paragraph really add any value? If it doesn’t give the user useful information then just ditch it.
In the same vein, ruthlessly remove other digital clutter, such as annoying flashing images and now unfashionable Flash graphics.
Apple has removed Flash from all its mobile devices and every other mainstream manufacturer is planning to follow suit. If anything else on your website adds no value, remove that too.
6. Adopt growth-driven design
The traditional take on web design has been to refurbish sites every couple of years or so. This phased re-launch model is now giving way to a more organic, growth-driven process which focuses on frequent, incremental updates rather than major overhauls.
This approach will make your website more responsive to customer needs. Rapid changes can be made to reflect customer feedback, the benefits of new technologies can be introduced more quickly and continuous optimisation means the end of those costly and disruptive mammoth makeovers.
By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.