When designing a website, there are myriad factors to take into account. Of those, the most important arguably is how the potential customer or web visitor is going to react when they are on the site. While a user may spend a few seconds on a site before they decide whether they will stay or bounce off, there is a lot that can be done by the web designer to influence this decision.
Many people use a customer journey to mimic what a website visitor may experience once they are on the site. This includes ensuring that the website pages do what they should do and that the site’s goal is achieved for each page and with each element on the page. So, what factors do web users consider to be important when they are searching online?
Believe it or not, web hosting is integral to a user’s experience of a website. The server where the website resides online has a bearing on how well it runs, just as a store’s location has on its foot traffic. As web hosting reviews show, one of the most important qualities that successful web hosting sites should possess to ensure users have the optimal experience is being fast and being reliable, in addition to being affordable. Those which offer this triptych in spades are generally considered the best choices for web hosts. Indeed, a website needs to load quickly, as consumers have been found to bounce if it hasn’t loaded in three seconds, at least on mobile. Moreover, security is a huge issue when it comes to web hosting, so ensuring that the host of your site is secure means that visitors to your site have better peace of mind.
The content of a website should do two things. Firstly, it should be informative and show the visitor exactly what you want them to do on the site, with powerful language and calls to action. But it should also be good for SEO so that Google knows how important the site is to users and exactly what they are expected to find once they visit it. Content that waffles or doesn’t give enough information can hinder the user and therefore hinder you. Imagery and video are also important in this regard, but not at the expense of the page being able to load properly. A video is a good tool once users are on a site, but if the load time surpasses the time it takes for their interest to wane, it is doing nobody any good.
Users also look for easy, intuitive navigation when they visit a site. Ensure that every link leads somewhere and everything is where users would expect it to be. The goal of any website is to ensure users stay as long as possible and have a pleasant experience, whether this is shopping for clothes, searching a website’s blog for information or finding out about a company’s services. The longer they stay on the site, the more likely they are to become a customer, tell others about it, and remember it in the future. Consider Wikipedia and how easy it is to hop from one topic to another, resulting in hours spent flicking through its content. The lesson here is, don’t just focus on your navigation bar but also take care to create intuitive, useful internal links.
Strong External Links
Leading on from navigation of a site is the links a site has. A site should contain links out of the site, as well as to other pages on the site. These external links help amplify trust signals for the website visitor. Backlinks are also important so that potential visitors are signposted to the site from other sites that they trust. Indeed, backlinks can also boost a website’s presence on Google and show the search engines that the site has valuable information related to the domain. Any blog should contain a number of external links to authority websites so that readers can use these similar sites as sources of further information. However, don’t invite your reader to head to those websites for information either. Include some of this in your article, to keep them informed and interested.
The design of a website is another important aspect and one that cements its position in the mind of the user. While the famous example is the 1996 film Space Jam website, which is preserved exactly as it was when it launched, most websites need to have a design that offers both functionality, so that the reason for having the website is clear, but are also eye-catching and pleasing enough so that users enjoy their web experience. There are countless ways and platforms to easily design a website, from WordPress and Kentico to Wix and Weebly – depending on how sophisticated you want it to be.
At the moment, there are an estimated 644 million active websites, generating hundreds of thousands of clicks per day. While consumers do search out specific ones and will stay on their pages to find what they are looking for, most of us only have a short window in which to grab someone’s attention.
Techniques such as a fast and secure web host and engaging content in both written and visual form will help to outline the initial basis of the website. Once users begin navigating around the site, this experience needs to be easy and intuitive, while the layout and design of the website needs to be both eye-catching and functional. The website needs to consist of calls to actions and other marketing tricks, such as links, that will ensure trust is present for both site users and search engines. Finally, sites need to have the basic legal requirements of how data will be used, which also helps users trust the site.