Anyone can build a website; making one that’s actually any good is a whole new project. Whether you’ve built and hosted it yourself from scratch or you’re taking over an established site there’s usually a few small-to-medium alterations and changes that can really boost a site’s presence. Here are five suggestions that could give your pages an extra sparkle.
Make it visually attractive
Google once carried out a study which found that we make a visual assessment of a website within a fiftieth of a second, which then informs our decision on sticking with it. An ugly, site with poor or grainy visuals, or no pictures at all, is unlikely to gain traction. The key is to use a photograph that is strong enough to attract people and highlight products, but doesn’t load at snail pace and send your bounce rate through the roof.
If you want to spend a little money but not much time, why not engage a photographer friend to take a set of professional photographs for you? Alternatively, one stock photograph that is representative of your site could be used at a small cost.
Make it less busy
We’ve somewhat forgotten it now, but when you visit a BBC web page from back in the day it appears chunky and clunky, with little room to breathe. Take a look at an example of a major sporting event from 2006 – Italy’s World Cup triumph – that pushes everything over to the left hand side of the screen and reduces Zidane and Terry to postage stamp-sized portraits.
The Beeb periodically changes its design to incorporate changes in trends and tech, and one of the biggest amends saw a reduction in the number of stories on its homepage to incorporate larger images, and a single responsive website that lends itself to different platforms. There’s more white space and it just looks cleaner and nicer. The homepage executive product manager for the site, wrote about the updates here.
Another instant win is to make the written content better – more concise and clean. Get rid of the filler and replace it with bullet points. Could a picture replace a couple of hundred words, or could the space be better utilised? If you can’t reduce words, then make them more fit for purpose. For example, are they pushing your visitors towards a Call to Action (on the homepage and above the fold), and do they help you introduce people to your stock or offers?
Stylistically, are you happy with the fonts and headings? Rather than posting all your good stuff on the home/landing page, is there an argument to start a relevant blog elsewhere on the site, that can also be used for SEO purposes?
That ties directly into…
When a visitor arrives, will they immediately know how to find what they need or is the juicy stuff buried in words or a labyrinth of interconnected pages and links? No website can hope to flourish if people don’t know what it sells, and where to find what they want. Stock and information should be logical, and regularly updated – and if you’ve got associated offers make sure they’re positioned near any related stock, so visitors know exactly what they can expect to save.
The site might need an overhaul; a redesign might incorporate a search facility, an FAQ page, an ‘about us’ section, and more. At the very least, include a contacts page that will enable potential customers to get in touch or offer feedback, or sign up to a free trial.
Safety and security
The final steps might not be apparent to the visitor (although that little ‘s’ in front of the HTTP will help settle nerves) but can really improve the security of your site. Upgrading your site’s protection could mean a number of things, such as making sure that your regularly update your operating system and install any security patches as and when necessary. It also depends somewhat on your hosts; if you’ve used a company such as www.vps.net for hosting for example, then you’ll already have an SSL certificate and 24/7 support.
These precautions are especially important if your site deals in e-commerce – you’ll be both protecting yourself and your customers.
Consider these five ways to immediately improve your website and enjoy the new engagement and hits they are guaranteed to bring.