Bonus – 10 Tips To A Highly Successful Website
This Podcast Is An Encore Episode. The audio comes from our previous video tips series from the Conceptual Creative website. You can view the original video series by visiting the Conceptual Creative Blog and Youtube Channel.
Tip 1 – Delivering Your Message
One of the largest offenders when it comes to website design and low conversion rates is not delivering your message. Your web site visitors come to your Web site because they want answers to their questions, They want to contact your business or they are ready to buy from you. Imagine you’re in the market for that nice new iPad or tablet computer. You visit your local retailer’s website and you’re ready to purchase but you cannot find what you are looking for. There is no place to buy the product, no information on the product and you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to view contact details. Ask yourself in the scenario above would you be more or less likely to make a purchase from that company. In most cases you would be less likely to make a purchase. I encourage you to do this little exercise with your own website.
I want you to do the following. Go to the home page of your website and wait for it to load. Check what you can see on that page without scrolling in any direction. So that means don’t scroll down don’t scroll left don’t scroll right, Just what loads on that page straight off the bat. Can you easily see what your business does how your business can be contacted and why you are the business to choose. If you answered no to any of those items then perhaps it’s time to talk to your website designer or developer about refining your home page.
When you’re working with your website designer. Make sure that you have a clear plan to add the right information to the site. Did you know that studies show that on average the current attention span of an adult online is less than six seconds.
Wow can you believe that you have less than 6 seconds to make that valuable first impression and to provide an avenue for gaining more information. On average your web site should be taking no more than three to four seconds to load. So this means you really only have one to two seconds in total to capture their attention. Why not put yourself into the shoes of your website visitors and see what happens when your website loads.
Do the research formulate a plan and deliver your message. One of the best ways to research what your customers think is to ask them. Interview some past customers and clients, record their responses and turn it into actionable data that you can use to move forward.
Tip 2 – Your Website Is Not Mobile Friendly
If you remember our last tip was all about delivering your message to your web site visitors. And this tip follows on from that in this video we talk about having a mobile friendly website and how delivering your message on mobile is just as important as on desktop. Having a mobile friendly Web site is about making sure the website looks feels and acts appropriately when viewed on a mobile phone or tablet device. Your web site should be delivering a consistent experience across desktop and mobile devices. So a consistent experience is where you no matter which device you visit your website on things look the same and can be found just as easily.
So in a recent statement Google publicly announced that a shift towards mobile friendly results was underway this means that it is now more important than ever to make sure that your website is optimised to provide that mobile experience. Google themselves provide you with a simple mobile friendly test that you can use to check your website. You can access the free Google test by visiting search.google.com/test / mobile-friendly (and we’ll put the link in the comments below) From your web browser and entering your website address we all know that being mobile friendly is important these days.
You only have to sit on a train or in a public place for a short period and observe those around you. You will notice that many of those around you are in a mobile driven world accessing data from their devices.
Did you know that 79 percent of visitors to a website who don’t like what they find will simply go back and search for another site. 48 percent of visitors to a web site claim that if a website didn’t work well on their smartphones it made them feel that the company didn’t care about their business. That is almost half of all mobile visitors to your website. Finally 52 percent of Web users stated that a poor mobile experience made them feel less likely to engage the company I could simply rattle off a whole pile of statistics but ultimately what it boils down to is this. If your web site is not mobile friendly you are effectively leaving half of your website’s potential conversion out of the equation. Can you really afford to ignore mobile users. I don’t know many business owners who can safely say they can.
Tip 3 – Check Your Load Time
Last week we discussed your website being mobile friendly and a big part of that is this week’s topic and that is load times and speed optimisation. Have you ever sat in traffic and noticed how impatient people are around you. I have I am usually one of them but hey visitors to your website can be just as bad if not worse.
If your website takes too long to load visitors are likely to simply hit the back button and leave when someone visits your website and leaves quickly like this. It is called a bounce each bounce on your site contributes to a metric. Google calls bounce rate. The bad news is the longer your site takes to load the higher the increase in your bounce rate. An increase from a 1 second load time to a 3 second load time gives you a 32 percent increased chance of bounce, a 1 second load time to 5 seconds a 90 percent increased chance, and a 1 second load time to 10 seconds gives you a 123 percent increased chance of bounce.
Fortunately there is something you can do about this by working closely with your web site design and development team. Firstly you need to find out what your load time is. You can easily find this out using any number of free tools available online. The first tool I suggest using is the Pingdom speed test which you can find by visiting tools.pingdom.com. Simply enter your website address and choose the server closest to where your website visitors are located. Select the start test button and wait for your results.
I also recommend getting a second test score from a website called GT metrix. You can get their second test by visiting gtmetrix.com and entering your website address and clicking analyse. Now please note you cannot choose a server on the free version of GT metrix so your website will be tested from Canada. This will mean that in all likelihood expect a few extra seconds on your score. Once you have these scores it’s time to take the results to your Web site team and go through the results with them. Once you have discussed options and worked out what is slowing down your website it’s time to get it fixed. Something to understand here is that speed optimisation is an ongoing process. We recommend looking at your results every two to three months at the most and if appropriate revisiting them results in optimising your website again if required.
In most cases your web site team has probably optimised your web site when it was built but if they haven’t it may be an optional service they provide. Or it may simply be that over time your optimisation has begun to fail and needs refreshing.
Tip 4 – What’s That Fine Print
In the last video we discussed load speeds and optimisation and now it’s time to look at the written content on your website. In particular in this video we’re going to talk about fonts font size and common sense. One of the biggest mistakes we see when rebuilding or refreshing websites for clients are poor font choices. A poor font choice doesn’t just mean using a font that no one can read. It comes down to size colour positioning and more.
Let’s take a look at size because we have all been to a site that you have to squint and struggle to read because the font chosen is used at too small a size. Often the mistake made comes down to the thought of having a lot of content and not wanting people to scroll too much. So let’s make fonts smaller. Whilst this might seem logical in fact it has the opposite effect when something is too small to read.
People will generally find it easier to give up and move on to another site. So what size should you make a font. Well it comes down to personal choice but as a rough guideline we recommend that Web site fonts should be clear to read and for main content a san serif font of at least 14 pixels in size.
So now that we’ve talked about font size let’s talk about colour and positioning of fonts and text on your website. Now obviously we want our headings to stand out. So giving them a splash of colour is an effective way to do so. Just be careful when you’re choosing a colour though. Think about where you plan to use the headings and where and whether they are positioned over an image or on a plain background colour. Think about the background and choose an appropriate colour.
Choosing a font for your website is a personal thing. We all have a particular font we like the look of and a vision for our website but usually the biggest issue when it comes to font selection is common sense. Nine times out of 10 a font is chosen for how it looks and how much you like it. But when previewing a font it is usually displayed black in colour on a white background. We suggest checking your fonts in the colour you plan to use them on the backgrounds and colours you plan to use them with. If your font is too small or too hard to read for you, Then common sense says your clients and visitors will struggle as well.
If I could leave you with one tip here when it comes to fonts the tip would be just because a font is available to use via Google fonts or another font service doesn’t mean you should use it. A little common sense goes a long way and remember test things out before you commit to them being live on your website.
Tip 5 – More Windows
In the last video we looked at font size and optimisation. Now it’s time to move on from the optimisation and visual for a few minutes and look at windows and keeping clients on your site. A lot of the items we discuss in these videos come down to a lack of education and planning in the initial stages or perhaps a lack of guidance from your website developer. When planning your web site and its content your aim should be first and foremost to keep a visitor on your site as long as possible. One of the biggest enemies to this is opening too many links in new windows. Now just to clarify I don’t mean opening things in a new tab as most Web site users are used to tabs now on desktop machines at least opening links in a new window happens when someone clicks a link on your Web site and a complete new window opens.
Your visitors are being redirected to a new window and that window has no back buttons or options to return back to your website. On a desktop computer this can be frustrating but on a mobile device it can be a downright killer for conversion rates. On mobile devices each one of these new Windows uses additional memory eventually slowing down the device. Slow devices make for poor user experience and increase loss in traffic. Additionally using the Internet and Web browsers on mobile devices are completely different to that of a desktop device. A new window on a mobile device can make some users not be able to return at all.
The easiest way to make sure you are not making this happen too often is to plan your website well and for each link ask whether it is necessary to have a new window or not. We do understand that certain items and files will open in a new tab or window such as P.D.F. files. However there are ways you can force these files to download or embed them in the Web site as scrollable content. As a general rule when planning your content the less opens in New windows the better. If you’re worried about people getting lost on your site use a breadcrumb system to help them navigate easier.
Tip 6 – Lose The Social Icons
In our last video we discussed keeping clients and visitors on our website for as long as possible. In this video we are going to look at one of the biggest ways to lose your visitors to your own content and that is displaying your social media icons and connections. We all want our potential visitors and existing clients to like and follow us on social media but the positioning of these icons can be detrimental to your conversion rate.
When you display your social media icons in a prominent position above the fold you are inviting your visitors to leave. So when we say “above the fold” we mean when your website first loads what you see on the screen without scrolling or anything like that. So a web site should always be the centre of your online marketing strategy. So social media should link to your Web site and vice versa. I am not saying don’t have the links on your site at all. That would not make any sense. What I am suggesting is to make sure that they are not so prominent that all your visitors leave to go to Facebook.
I suggest where possible place them in a not so prominent place. Now that could be at the top but not where they are distracting. You can easily use a plug in to put the links in your content, on the side of your site or below the main header content. The aim here is to make sure your clients and visitors get the chance to see your message before they attempted to leave the site. I do understand that many commercial themes only have one position in the header for these links but a good website designer or developer can easily move them for you. And if all else fails there are plenty of plugins available to do this job.
When you’re developing your online strategy remember that all roads should lead to your Web site or a platform that you control. The reason you want to do this is because you can then capture that client’s details to your own list meaning that you don’t have to spend money with advertising to reach that client again.
Tip 7 – Stop Hiding Your Navigation
In the last video in the series we discussed relocating social media icons to avoid losing your clients and visitors into the social media wasteland. In this video we’re going to discuss a huge trend we see more and more and that is hiding your navigation. With the mobile first design movement it is becoming common place to use what they call a “hamburger menu” on mobile devices for navigation.
A hamburger menu is the three little lines you see at the top of a mobile friendly website. You click on the little hamburger symbol and the menu appears, hamburger menus are perfect for saving space on mobile devices which is what they were designed for. However they don’t work so well for desktop users.
With 90 percent of themes on the market you can set a different navigation style depending on the device. So whilst you would use a hamburger menu for mobile devices you really should use a normal menu system or a different type of menu system on larger iPad devices laptops and desktops. By using these style menus you are catering for those higher resolution screens and making it easier to navigate your website.
If your website only allows one menu style for all items I highly recommend looking for an alternative theme or perhaps using a plugin to bridge the gap. Desktop users need links to click and navigate in the traditional sense. If you’re not sure how your menu works on different devices why not have a look at your website on a desktop computer then have a look at it on a tablet computer and finally on a modern mobile phone. This is also a great way to make sure that everything on your website is working as expected and providing a cohesive user experience.
Tip 8 – Tiny Links, Mash Finger’s Here
So far in this series we’ve looked at a wide range of topics that if managed correctly can help your online Web site conversion rate. In this video we’re going to look at making sure links and buttons on your website are big enough to be easily accessed on the touch screens of mobile devices. With over 60 percent of web site traffic coming from mobile or touch capable devices you need to make sure that your links and buttons are big enough to click when designing your website.
Your website designer should have taken care of this for you but perhaps you built the site yourself or have added to the site since. When looking to correct this issue you are going to need a mobile phone and internet access.
Load up your website and go through each page of the site. You will want to check the following items of your site as you go, to make sure they are easily clicked on the mobile device.
You want to check your header navigation and menu or your hamburger menu.
You want to check the buttons that you used for submitting forms.
You want to check links that are in text content.
Any links or buttons in the footer content and any links or buttons in video or multimedia content.
If you do these checks for every page and nothing is wrong. That’s great news. However in many cases you will find that a link may be too close to another link to accurately navigate or that a button or link is simply too small to easily click. We have all visited that website where the links are too small to click and we get frustrated and leave. Imagine what is happening to your website conversion rate if your links are too small.
Tip 9 – Not Using Headings Effectively
In previous videos in this series we discussed attention spans. And today we are going to look at something that goes hand in hand with this behaviour. Today we are going to look at using headings on your pages and skim reading. Many visitors to your website will skim the page moving from heading to heading until they find the content they are looking for. If your not effectively using headings it could be damaging your conversion rate and rankings at the same time.
Imagine going to a website to read an article and not being able to find the article in amongst a sea of body text. Are you going to hang out on that site and read all of that text or are you going to move on to the next site that has perfectly clear headings. Not using headings on your page provides a poor user experience across all devices and this means a loss of conversion.
Losing conversion and identifying key content isn’t the only reason to use good headings structure. Another reason is that search engines index your page by reading the content just like a human does. So if a search engine sends its crawler to investigate your site and finds a large block of text with no headings, it will rank you lower in search than a website with the same content including headings.
So most Web site themes have six levels of Heading and each can be set up to be completely different from your main heading or H1 could be a larger font size bold and coloured to make it stand out from the other content on your website. You can then customise each of the other headings H2 H3 H4 H5 and H6 so that you can create a consistent experience for your users whilst reading your content.
Tip 10 – Your Website Doesn’t Utilise HTTPS + Recap
Welcome to the last video in this series of website tips. We’ve covered a lot of great things in the past nine videos and today we are looking at one of the most important items in modern web site design. Today we talk about SSL certificates and data protection HTTPS is about data protection at its most fundamental.
Who hasn’t seen items in the news of late about data security and data breaches. Whilst we won’t be going to in-depth about security in this video we will talk about the basics of SSL certificates. In 2017 there were more than 33 million hacked web sites and that’s only the ones that were reported. Whilst an SSL certificate won’t protect you from things like weak passwords and persistent hacking attempts it will provide a deterrent and an additional layer of difficulty for those hacking attempts.
An SSL certificate works in conjunction with your web site to secure user data both yours and your visitors. This secure encryption of personal data assists your users to feel confident in dealing with your business. 84 percent of website visitors surveyed would abandon a purchase if data was not sent securely meaning failure to have an SSL certificate could impact your sales.
Google has started flagging Web sites that do not have an SSL certificate warning website visitors to be careful on that website. In many cases you can even now get free SSL coverage via your website hosting provider. However the cost of an SSL certificate is far outweighed by the benefits of having one.
The free certificates available are fine for your average non shop based website. However if you are selling products and collecting payment I recommend you look at getting a dedicated paid certificate for your site. There are of course different levels of certificates so make sure you do your research before making a purchase and get the right certificate for your particular website. If you have questions drop me an email, Happy to answer them.
Okay so we’ve just completed the 10 tips in our first website tips series so let’s do a short review on what we covered. To be successful in business online we need to look at providing visitors easily with the information they need straight away. We need to make sure those visitors can easily navigate your Web site on multiple device types from desktop to mobile. We need to make sure we are not irritating our visitors with constant new windows, small and hard to read fonts and confusingly small buttons. We need to make sure our Web sites load fast and that our visitors are not kept waiting too long and finally make sure we take pride in protecting our clients data and that we care about their user experience.