NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – We talk a lot on this blog about how to increase your Google ranking and thus increase site traffic. If you read search engine and marketing blogs often, you may find your head spinning, up to your ears in SEO information. And while you should try to digest as much information as you can, the simplest and most effective way to gain online customers is to build a great website.
The best SEO companies understand that good web design is closely linked with online success. Sinai Marketing recently welcomed Farnaz Zangouei to our team as a Web designer, and our team realizes how valuable her skills really are.
Let’s put it this way: you’ve reached the top spot on Google for your most desired keyword. Congratulations! What does this mean? It means it’s easier, much easier, for customers to find your site than if you were miles down on the search results page.
But what happens when a user clicks on the link to your site and it takes more than a minute to load? What happens when a cluttered site overwhelms a user? What happens when your navigation is sloppy and your texts are difficult to read? The user leaves, and quickly.
You may have heard the term “bounce rate” to describe how quickly a user leaves a website. Our goal is to lower your bounce rate, or, more simply, to keep users on your site. The more pages the user interacts with on your site, the lower your bounce rate. The longer a user sticks around on your site, the more likely you are to convert them, either to make a sale or have them contact you.
Here are six ways to improve your website’s design and keep users from leaving too quickly.
1. Develop a clean user interface.
In the design world, we call user interface UI. UI includes a lot of elements – the website’s navigation, the placement and aesthetics of buttons, social networking links, user forms and search boxes.
Try not to have an insane amount of information on your home page. Instead, spend time developing your site’s navigation and think of the most logical way to organize and label your pages. Trust me, it will make a difference. Think about the best place for your links to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus. SEO works hand in hand with your site’s design, and every button on your site must serve a distinct purpose.
2. User clear fonts.
Many users come to your site for content. Make that content easy to read. Avoid swirly, cursive fonts or jarring color combinations. When you wrote papers in school, did your English teachers let you use any font you wanted? My teachers made us stick to Arial or Times New Roman. You can certainly branch off from these fonts for your website, but remember the sole purpose of your content is to engage visitors, so don’t lose them with a difficult font choice.
3. Use a contrasting (but not blinding) color scheme.
The same goes for your color palette. There’s a fine line between stylish and garish, and sometimes you need a fresh set of eyes to help you see the difference. Bright colors can be harsh on the eyes, and your visitor may subconsciously feel negatively about your site just from the colors on the screen. While using colors from your company’s logo is generally a good idea, you probably want to stick to toned down versions for the site’s background and for most of the text.
Use your logo as a guide for the color combinations, but not as a hard rule. Don’t discount how attractive a nice gray background can be. Gray is the color of newspaper, and very light gray is the shade of paper books. Black text is common in newspapers and books. Our eyes see these color combinations well and interpret them easily. Whatever color combinations you choose, make sure your text contrasts enough from its background to be easily readable.
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
Henry David Thoreau said it, ladies and gentlemen, and he is still right. Even in terms of Web design, simpler is usually better. Reduce the amount of clutter on your site and watch your bounce rate get lower and lower. Visitors will leave your site quickly if they find lots of distractions.
Do you really need a pop-up? Do you really need that text box? Distractions keep them from the information they are searching to find. Choose each element of your website wisely. Keep your blog in a contained place and share fun, quirky things there if you wish, but keep your home page clean and simple, and keep your navigation intuitive.
5. Beware of slow load times.
Certain factors can significantly slow down your website’s load time, such as large images, multimedia, scripts and music. People hate waiting, and they especially dislike waiting for websites to load.
If your site is loading slowly, expect your user to be impatient and most likely leave. A good Web designer will know how to include professional, high-resolution images that don’t take years to load.
Let me be clear, though. Multimedia is a good thing. Videos help engage users and keep them on your site. You just want to make sure they’re optimized for quick loading and they buffer as they go along.
6. Embrace mobile and be responsive.
Screens are all different sizes these days, with tablets and smartphones exploding the marketplace. If your website is designed solely for a 13-inch monitor, you’re missing out on a lot of smartphone and tablet users.
Check out your website on a variety of devices and see how it looks. If you have a high bounce rate from smartphone users, it may be time to develop a responsive website. Good design isn’t limited to one screen size.
Zangouei knows that your online presence is extremely important, and we do, too.
“Without a website that’s user-friendly, a business will never be able to effectively advertise their services,” says Zangouei. “The world lives online, and a well-designed Internet home is vital to growth.”
An online home with good content and a strong design will leave users satisfied and satiated. Good design is hard to explain, but you certainly know it when you see it. On the flip side, it’s very easy to spot bad design.
Trust your instinct and consult with a professional designer to see how you can improve the look and user experience of your website. You should notice increased user engagement, and you’ll likely enjoy a higher amount of credibility with a professionally designed website.