Trends in web design are always changing. Though it’s been publicly available for nearly three decades, the Internet remains a relatively new technological resource. Every day better and faster techniques emerge, as do the demands on web designers and online businesses to keep up with the changing landscape.
Once, the ability of a website to adapt to a mobile device was only an afterthought. Today, 77% of Americans own a smart phone, according to Pew Research Center, and it’s estimated that 25% of all holiday shopping will be done on a mobile device in 2018.
With these changing trends, it can be difficult to know what parts of your website matter the most, but, when it comes to the findability and usability of your website, these four basics always matter.
A solid homepage
It might be a given, but your homepage does a lot of heavy lifting on your website. It’s the first page a lot of site visitors land on, and it needs to give them an idea of all the different content they can find on the site.
Your homepage must also generate conversions. No matter what your site’s purpose, you need visitors to click on something. By eliminating clutter, and having a clear, concise call to action – “Join our coalition,” “Sign our petition,” “Donate now” – your homepage helps guide users to the next step.
Quality informational pages
Quality informational pages serve two distinct purposes on a website. They may provide information about the products or services your company provides, ensuring site visitors have all the information they need to make informed decisions about whether your product is right for them and that customers know how to use the product. They may also be general informational pages about your industry.
General informational pages serve a couple of different purposes on their own. The first is to showcase your expertise, letting potential clients or customers know why they should pick your company over another. The second is to bring organic traffic to your site, which prints us to the next essential aspect of a company.
It might sound like something best left to SEOs and marketers, but when your business is online, it doesn’t hurt to have some keyword knowledge of your own. It’s important to remember that businesses are discovered very differently online than they are in the physical world. No one’s going to be strolling past your business and pop in. To find your site, a person must be searching for it, and the more valuable clues you can provide for them the better chance they have of finding you.
Even if you hire a copywriter to do all your website copy, you need to remember that you are the expert in your field. No one knows better than you do how people search for the products in your industry.
Title and Meta Description
These are big ones, because they are both vital to placement in search engine rankings and are the first thing most visitors to a website see. They are also some of the components of a website that don’t get as much attention as they should.
Many site owners are tempted to leave the title of their homepage the name of their business. The problem with that is it’s not always particularly descriptive. Take “Haggen,” for example. Do you know what it is? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Most people outside the United States’ Pacific Northwest don’t know. But the company’s title and meta description clear the confusion right up.
If you do a search in Google for Haggen, here is what you will find:
Title: Haggen Food Grocery Store | Northwest Washington Grocery Stores
Meta Description: Haggen Food Grocery Stores born in the Northwest – over 80 years as the leading family owned Northwest Washington grocery store chain based in …
As the above information conveys, the title and meta description of your website are how users know what your company is and what it does. It is how your business appears to users in search results, and is your opportunity to hook them and make them want to click through to your page. Including strong copy here is one of the most useful marketing techniques business owners have at their disposal.
But if you don’t do a good job here letting people know what your site is about, then you end up with a high number of visitors bouncing from the page. This might not sound like a big deal, but it sends the signal to Google that visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for. And this has a negative effect on your site’s ability to rank in Google.
When you really want to stand out from your competition and make a splash in your niche, every aspect of your website matters. Some parts of your website, though, are not purely informational, they are highly promotional. By utilizing these parts of your website effectively, you can draw in potential customers, increase organic traffic, and, with any luck, improve your site’s conversion rate.
Shawna Newman is digital marketing consultant with an emphasis on site-building and SEO. She has sold several successful web-based businesses and owns and operates Skipblast Digital.