The reasons for contemplating a new website can be many. Your current site is outdated design-wise? Your current site requires new features to satisfy users and keep up with competition? Or perhaps it’s simply not performing as well as it’s expected to these days? We’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts when planning a new website to help you get the best possible start.
WHAT YOU MUST DO
1. Think ahead!
The very first thing to do when contemplating a new website is to carefully consider the purpose of the website. Who do you want to communicate to and what do you want them to do? Start by making a site map to give you an idea of the content you want on the website. Knowing where you are going from the start will give you a more well-structured and user-friendly site so take the extra time to discuss and decide – it’ll pay off in the end.
2. Think SEO from the very beginning!
Let’s face it. SEO is important because if you don’t appear on page 1 in a Google search, you’re not there. So, do yourself a favor and make sure that your website is designed in a SEO-friendly way. If the fundamental structures are not in place from the beginning it can be very difficult (and costly) to change at a later stage and you won’t be able to optimize the site on an ongoing basis to improve Google rankings.
3. Make a design that grabs attention!
More and more websites look the same. The reason is the growing demand for responsive websites that work on smartphones, tablets and desktops and result in modular solutions with similar functionalities. So, make sure that your design stands out, e.g. in terms of colors, fonts and images. Try the classic cover-the-logo-test. Would a customer recognize your website if he didn’t see the logo?
4. Cut back on CTA!
Of course, you want users to contact you, but you don’t have to place ‘Contact’ opportunities everywhere. Stick to few but very clear CTAs – because, here, as in so many other cases, more is less. Users turn ‘CTA-blind’ or become confused and don’t know where to click. By keeping CTA-opportunities at a minimum you stand a much better chance at controlling user behavior.
5. Keep improving!
Accept that a website is not finished when you launch it and never will be finished. A website should be maintained on a regular basis to keep its ‘groove’ so remember to post new content, fine-tune the design and add new functionalities.
WHAT YOU SHOULD AVOID
1. Don’t force people to think!
Most users are used to a certain structure on a website. A kind of ‘best practice’, if you like. If you challenge that ‘best practice’ and design a page that significantly differ from what users know and are comfortable with, you risk losing them because they find it too difficult to navigate and give up. Remember that the attention span on the internet is very low. So, play it safe and do what everyone else is doing – at least as far as structure and navigation go.
2. Don’t make people wait!
Impatience is a common trait in most people so don’t make them wait for your website to load. Studies show that 47% of users expect a page to load within two seconds. If it takes longer there’s a high risk that users decide that the site (and your service/product) is no good and move on. Ways to make sure that your site loads quickly are avoiding heavy videos on auto-play and optimizing pictures as well as the code. If you don’t know how ‘speedy’ your website is, Google’s PageSpeed tool can measure it for you.
3. Don’t over-do pop-up windows!
Pop-up windows are very efficient in driving users to a certain action BUT don’t let it be the first thing to greet users when they enter your website. It may very well have the opposite effect and turn potential customers away. Make sure to convince user that what you have to offer is valuable to them before you throw a pop-up window at them and ask them to sign up or otherwise engage. Use them with caution and finesse and consult Google Analytics on a regular basis to monitor the effect.
4. Don’t settle for ‘one-pagers’!
They’re bad for SEO, they will make your site less scalable and they can be rather ‘tough’ for your users to take in if there’s a lot of content. Rather than trying to squeeze everything into one page, use subsites to give your content the space it deserves and get more value from your site in the process.
5. Don’t target everybody!
You’ll only end up being relevant to no one if you attempt to accommodate every one of your target groups. Prioritize your target groups and focus on making your site attractive and relevant for those you primarily want to reach.