Suffice it to say, web design and development has changed over the years. At one time, it was possible to create a simple site, slap some text on the page, and call it a day. But computers and devices used to browse the web were also a lot less sophisticated.
Today, even the cheapest mobile devices can display high-quality HD resolution content and take advantage of modern features. Parallax scrolling, for instance, can spruce up the background and foreground of a site. There are also animated images and GIFs, videos and interactive web elements.
With a new site or updated design, you want to remain on the bleeding edge of it all. You want your features and content to be captivating, and not out of date. You want to wow your audience and keep them coming back for more.
Here are some features that will help you do that. If you want to provide your target audience with appropriate content, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Responsive Design or Cross-Platform Support
People don’t stick to one device anymore, at least not like they used to. The average visitor may start reading content on a computer or tablet and then move to their mobile device. Thanks to social media and mobile search, it’s also likely someone would visit your site only via mobile.
To accommodate this, you absolutely want a responsive site or design that will adapt to meet the needs of your user. A responsive site is meant to adjust resolution, format and even sometimes content to match that of varying display sizes and resolutions. It might shrink text so more can fit on a smaller mobile display, or it might remove various animations to improve performance.
Statista has found that global mobile traffic has a larger share of internet usage than traditional desktop traffic. In fact, it makes up a whopping 52.64 percent of the total. If you’re adjusting your design or site to meet the needs of your mobile audience, you’re going to alienate an expansive number of potential customers.
Check out the Squarespace page for Keanu Reeve’s Make it Happen campaign. If you can, visit it the first time on a desktop or laptop computer in a full-screen view. After, pay the same site a visit on a mobile device. Notice how the perspective of the site and the content shift to accommodate the smaller screen size? Review the rest of the site and see how it adapts, as well. That’s exactly what you want for your own responsive and mobile-friendly design strategies.
2. Fewer Advertisements
We get it. You’re a business, and you need to make money. Whether you’re a retailer showing off your partner or sister company, or you’re an online publication trying to make money through sponsors, ads are a necessity. But that doesn’t mean you need to litter your site with them so much that it hinders performance and bogs down your users.
Sometimes, you don’t even have control over the advertisements shown on your site. Maybe you use an affiliate program, or you allow advertisers total control? Whatever the case, you could be opening up a can of worms for your company.
Did you know, for instance, that people tend to hate video ads that autoplay as soon as you land on a page? And yet, this is an incredibly common form of advertising content website administrators include in their repertoire.
Try to cut down on the number and overall space you designate to advertisements and promotions, no matter what kind of site you’re operating. Your users — and traffic count — will thank you for it.
3. Interactive and Engaging Content
The tried and true stuff like web copy, images and video, and even animations are all self-explanatory. You pad the site with this content to both make it more interesting and relevant. But what a lot of modern experiences miss is the experiential content. We’re talking about fully interactive and engaging elements that draw the visitors in — it immerses them in a unique experience.
4. Search Engine Optimisation (But Not the Reason You Think)
By now, many of us understand the basic concept of SEO or search engine optimisation for a modern website. Basically, if you want your site to appear higher in search results, you must optimise the content and design of your site so web crawlers can find information easier and faster. You do this by lacing keywords and various SEO practices into your content creation and design strategies.
SEO is important for obvious reasons, but that’s not why we included it on this list. The reason why you should be concerned with best SEO practices for your site is that it alters the user experience.
Have you ever used the search feature on a site and found it to be incredibly lacking? You began searching for a product or piece of content only to find results that were not related in any shape or form to what you wanted? It happens, even on remarkably popular e-commerce sites. Part of this can be attributed to the search tool the designers or company is using, yes. But it can also be attributed to SEO optimization.
By using the right keywords, headers, descriptions and meta details, you make it much easier for your visitors to find what they are looking for. Even internally, your site’s search function uses these details to find and identify content.
Pay attention to how Duncan Parnell lists their various locations. Along with the City and State, each has an address that makes it much easier to find the one you want. This ties directly into the search function of the site, even when searching externally.
5. Keep It Visual
Citing the fact that most people have the attention span of a goldfish, you can see why it’s important that you keep your design simple and straightforward. You need to convey the message or point as quickly as possible before you lose the attention of your visitors.
While many might take that to mean simple web copy, that’s not exactly the idea. Really, you want to make a site and design as visually stimulating as possible. The fewer words you have on your page the better. In fact, we’d argue that only titles need to exist, and the rest can be all pictures and video — provided you set things up correctly.
People love visual stimulation, so why not give it to them? That’s what HackerRank was going for with their 2018 Women in Tech Report site. The text and web copy is there to back up the visuals, yes, but first you’re treated to a beautiful scene and great interactive content.
6. Don’t Disguise Your CTA
Assume right off the bat that people know you’re a business, and you’re trying to sell them a product. They may have never heard of your brand before, but clearly they’re on your site or engaging with your channels because they’re interested.
This is why you should never disguise your calls-to-action or use distracting web copy to direct your audience. If you’re offering them a free eBook, then a decent-sized button with the words “download now” should suffice. You can be more descriptive if you like, but the general idea is that you make it as obvious as possible for them.
It really doesn’t matter if the end goal is to garner a macro or micro-conversion. What matters is that you and your audience both know what’s happening. Are they following a link to buy a product? Are they visiting a partner page or site? Are they downloading a document or file? Make it obvious, and don’t make them search for it.
Give Your Audience What They Want
Follow the tips discussed here and you should have no problems keeping your audience engaged and entertained. That’s exactly what you want from a site, even one promoting a business. The more memorable the experience for your customers, the more likely they are to return, and that also means repeat business.