If you launched a website more than 3 years ago, chances are you’re missing a lot of opportunities to engage and convert visitors, and in some cases, may be driving them away entirely. So much has changed in this short period that it is important to understand how it can impact your business. A few web development things to consider in 2017:
1. Load In Under 2 Seconds
Visitors are used to websites that take under 2 seconds to load on a smartphone. Consider different content for desktop than mobile if you are loading video backgrounds, motion graphics, or other processor-intensive operations, or use pre-loaded content to break it up. Also think about using “lazy loading”, whereby content is only loaded in the device’s view-able area, but be careful to ensure that the lazy-loaded content can also be indexed by search engines.
2. It HAS To Be Responsive
A website has to be responsive to the display it is being viewed on simply because there are too many variations of devices and screens now. There are degrees of responsiveness too, so don’t buy that a site is either responsive or not responsive, as many sites fall somewhere in-between fully mobile and fully desktop. If the goals of the site dictate it, you may want to build fully dedicated smartphone and desktop versions of your site, or even consider a native application for phones to more effectively target how mobile users navigate.
3. Navigation Has Changed
Think about hiding menus entirely under a single button or function, so you give maximum space to the content. There are now new and more accepted navigation elements and conventions in web development, like hamburger menus, panel menus, or accordian menus, that mean designers can move away from the old text/submenu systems of old, where depending on the number of primary links it can be hard to accommodate them all.
It is also still good to keep important stuff near the top of a page or web app (logo, contact info, conversion button or phone dial button), but the old notion of “above the fold” is not as important as it used to be, simply because tablets and smartphones navigate content most easily by scrolling/swiping, rather than clicking links to broken up content. And with the varying screen sizes and proportions, there is simply no “fold” to be had.
4. Avoid Bad Stock Photography
This one is simple – visitors are sensitive to credibility flags like bad stock photography or obvious signs of templating – they will immediately make a judgement and move away.
5. Write How People Speak And Trim It Down, Because Google Likes That
Copying your mission statement or other business or tech-loaded vocabulary into your written content just makes users eyes glaze over. They’ve read it a hundred times on other sites and are tuned to ignore it. Start with a story, talk like normal people talk, and avoid the jargon. And unfortunately many sites are still living in 2006, where paragraphs of copy were included to reinforce keywords for search engines. Google analyzes copy semantically, meaning it is smart enough to know the intent and contextual meaning of the copy. Add your keywords to the places it counts: Titles, descriptions, headings, image alt tags, and URLs.
6. No Clear Call-To-Action (Conversion), Or Too Many
Keep calls-to-action simple and singular – keep them near relevant copy and the top of the page, but don’t hammer them with pop-ups, blinking display ads, or the like. Pick the most important and relevant conversions and develop around them.
7. Design For Credibility and Security
More than ever users are worried about the security of their information, acquiring viruses, losing money, or being defrauded. Take the time and make the investment to get your site fully encrypted using SSL, especially if you are selling online and taking credit cards. Use third-party review systems and any credible rating agencies in your industry and proudly display those on the site. Google even puts a premium on search results to those domains that use SSL and have clean blacklist records.
8. Lots Of Folks (read: Generation Z) Don’t Visit Many Websites At All
Many users, and especially the 14-24 range of Generation Z rarely leave the “ecosystems” they are subscribed to (Instagram, Facebook, SMS, Snapchat, etc.), so finding ways to cross-link content and campaigns across these boundaries is crucial to increasing new visitors and ultimately new customers. In the noise of the open web, people are starting to opt-in to just a few digital places and only rarely exit.