Best Practices: Web Design
According to Netcraft's January 2020 Web Server Survey, there are 1,295,973,827 websites in the world: today, nearly everyone can get a website with much ease, kudos to platforms such as Word Press, Wix, Joomla, and the likes. As the numbers of the websites will keep growing, so will the expectations of your website by your potential clients and/or audience.
Cutting across several uses, industries, and sectors; it is safe to imply that there are well over a million websites offering the same set of services and/or products you offer. Hence, if your design does not impress your clients enough, your competitors' will.
What is Web Design?
Web design refers to the design of websites that are displayed on the internet, the look, the feel, the interaction, as well as the experience.
New visitors' perception of your website is similar to how we all have perceptions when we meet with an individual for the very first time. However, with a website, it only takes 0.05 seconds for a new visitor to your website to form an opinion of your brand. 50 milliseconds and you want to know the factors that help form that opinion in less than one second? It is all embedded in your Design.
Web standards (SEO) are constantly changing, so revisiting your user design and user experience (UI & UX) practices frequently is key.
Note: All design improvements should base on objective and measurable data so that statistics can display your progress or mistakes. The most valuable metrics of UX efficiency is a website's conversion rate
We will get you through specific web design best practices that would help keep your website up to date in the next couple of years. Also, at the end of this article, you will be able to better optimize your websites for Search Engines.
1. Images Speaker Louder than words
Showing in graphical content is way better than trying to explain away what you do. Having visuals not only helps you breakdown your written content; but with a few images, you can give the mind a visual of your services and products. It certainly shaves off more time of reading through texts and having to imagine what the product or services should be.
Furthermore, in the place of fully expressing yourself and how great your products are, displaying customer experience and a few descriptive words would rather be a better choice as compared to trying to convince your audience when they have already made up their minds about your organization or service in less than a second.
In summary to this, "more images, little descriptive words" are the best practice for websites in 2020.
2. Responsive Pages (All device friendly)
Technology has led to the creation of several devices with different screen sizes. This development paved the way for building responsive web design. Taking a step back here, what is responsive web design?
"Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user's behavior and environment based on screen size, platform, and orientation."
You want to design your website to adapt itself to sorts of screen sizes to help all visitors to your website navigate with ease. Remember that you are building a website for your clients/audience and not yourself; hence, you aim to ensure ease of surfing your website on any device they choose/own.
3. Ease of Navigation
There is one thing you do not want your clients to have to go through while browsing your website; getting lost and being confused as to how to easily get to where they need to be or "where you need them to be" (we will discuss more on this in the next point).
A major nuisance on most websites I visit is having to scroll to the header of a page or its footer, just to find the homepage and other pages, when these buttons can easily be positioned horizontally, hovering above the content of the page (88% of websites have this).
Connecting the Hicks Law to this: "More options slow down decision", you want to be precise with your navigation, else, it is only a matter of time before your bounce rates increases.
4. CTA (Call to action)
Call to actions are decisions you want users of your website to make when they visit your website. It involves calling their attention to actions such as: making a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, adding products to a cart, etc. (hence, call to actions).
This particular practice is a very tricky one, as much as you want visitors on your website to make certain actions, you also have to be subtle about it, and this is why it is tricky. Imagine visiting a website and every single page you open, you are asked to sign up for a newsletter, it is quite the nuisance, right? This is why you need to be subtle about it.
A call to action is more than just passing a message to take a particular decision, well except you run an e-commerce website. It is an enticing appeal to put their trust in you. Why would someone subscribe to your newsletter if they do not trust you? Why would a user purchase a product from your website without trusting your platform? This is why your call to action should be more encouraging than direct.
5. Increase your SEO Score
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to how easily search engines (Google, Bing, etc) can understand the content of your webpage and translate this information into results that users search for.
93% of all internet experiences start from enquiries on a search engine. A low ranking score on your website's SEO simply means less visibility for potential clients.
In designing your website, you need to ensure that the architecture of the layout (HTML) follows the logical and acceptable hierarchy about the page elements. This will make it easier for search engine bots to easily crawl (read, understand, and analyze) the content on your website.
We have repeatedly used the word "content" in this article and for good reason: Content in this context refers to information on your website that users will find useful as they browse through your webpages. Content can be in graphical form (Images), Written (articles and publications such as this one you are currently engaged in), Videos (Tutorials, recipes, and the likes), and audio (voice notes, podcasts).
Depending on how easily you can reach your audience/clients, it determines the type of content you use. For instance, tutorials are best as video content, but it doesn't necessarily mean it is the only way to engage the audience.
One of the most important parts of content resides in the value you are adding to users. People are attracted to value, if they cannot get this from you, they look for it elsewhere. Another important part of the content is consistency, how often are you able to provide value to the users. This should, however, be done with the notion that "Images speak louder than words".
7. SSL & Speed
SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is an encryption-based Internet security protocol. It was first developed by Netscape in 1995 to ensure privacy, authentication, and data integrity in Internet communications. SSL is the predecessor to the modern TLS encryption used today. SSL has also become a requirement by search engines for a high ranking score in SEO.
Every website owner should optimize for speed both on mobile devices and PCs. Your page loading time should not be above 5 seconds, yes it is doable. A lot of webpages always lose their users even before they get to see the website, why? Due to the speed of loading the webpage. As much as it is great to have a beautifully designed website, speed must be a top-ranking consideration in all.
Tools for measuring your website standard
For optimum UI/UX, the following tools will certainly help guide you and your team towards having a web design that exhibits best practices:
1. Google analytics
2. Google console
3. Uber Suggest
From our experience and research from Google, users are goal-oriented, visiting your website through backlinks, search engines, or organic visits, they want results immediately. To falter in this singular factor ensures that the number of bounces from your website increases.