5 Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Your Business Website Design

Whether you’ve decided that it’s time to redesign your website, or perhaps you’re embarking on your very first business website design, your website is a vital part of building your brand and business, both online and off. Either way, here are 5 strategies to get more traffic to and customers from your website.

Be strategic.

In other words, know your website’s goals, both primary and secondary. The more clearly defined your website’s goals, the easier it is for your website designer, copywriter, and blogger to meet these goals. What is the main purpose of your website? Is it to gain leads, sell products, attract new clients, ask you for a free quote request, sign up for your newsletter, provide product and service support to reduce phone calls, or read your blog a few times a week?

Make it user friendly.

Are your visitors able to interact with your website in a way that is meaningful to them? Intuitive navigation, easily recognizable hyperlinks, strategic information design, optimized search function, scannable and readable text, fast page load times, functioning keyboard shortcuts, and good use of white space are all features of a user-friendly website design.

Make it mobile friendly. No really.

Please double-check your site! I can't tell you how many times we go in for a CRO audit and businesses have no idea just how many serious usability issues are lurking in their mobile site. What’s more, one in five mobile website visits leads to a user taking action. Building a mobile compatible website while also avoiding elements that frustrate mobile users is critical for businesses to take advantage of the exploding mobile world we live in today.

Incorporate fresh and captivating content.

Regularly supplying your website visitors with fresh and engaging content will incite visitors to return to your site again and again. Encourage comments or participation in polls to have your visitors interact more with your site. Utilize a call to action to ask for blog or newsletter subscribers, provide captivating high quality images, and be sure to integrate social media into your website and blog. Whether it’s your blog, product updates, galleries, multimedia, or company or industry news, deliver useful, entertaining, and valuable information -- consistently.

Utilize analytics.

At the very least, get to know Google Analytics, which your professional web designer can provide and incorporate into your website. This insightful tool can tell you what pages on your site your visitors are reading, how long they are staying, where they are located, what browser or device they are using, what their entry and exit pages are, and so much more. Learning more about your visitors and their behaviors can help you better target them.None of these business website design strategies are a quick fix. They require effort, persistence, and time. But the investment not only provides cumulative benefits, but also takes your business to the next level.

4 Common Website Issues and What Causes Them

If you're not a web developer or a network technician, it can be extremely difficult to figure out what might be causing problems that you're having with your site. When you do figure out what the problem likely is, you're probably going to end up calling tech support, but it helps to know which tech support you should call. Here are some common website issues and some of the common culprits that cause them.

1: Slow Loading

Determining whether common website issues such as slow loading are due to issues with your server or your page is sometimes difficult to determine. Generally speaking, if your page loads very slowly the first time you try and every subsequent time, it's probably a design issue. If your page normally loads very quickly but suddenly slows down to a snail's pace, the server may be having trouble. There is a third potential cause, as well: your Internet connection. Follow the procedure for resetting your Internet connection to eliminate this possibility or try to visit other websites to see if you have the same problem before you start looking for problems with your page or your server.

2: Incorrect Display

Some website designs are what are called responsive designs. Responsive designs automatically reformat themselves to accommodate different types of screens. If your website is displaying oddly in a mobile device or on your regular desktop computer, you may be experiencing one of the very common website issues. Have your developers check it out to make certain that it works correctly in any devices that they have and, if they have a problem, too, they can start troubleshooting it right away.

3: Page Not Found and Other Errors

Internet errors, such as the infamous 404 error, can be difficult to troubleshoot and can be one of the most frustrating of the common website issues. You may actually have a missing page within the directories for your site or you may simply be having an issue with your server. Determining which is the case is usually a matter of seeing how long it lasts. Try refreshing the page that shows up as missing or try visiting the site after a few minutes. If the page still isn't there, contact your web host and, if that doesn't give you the results you need, contact your designer to see if there's a page missing in your directories.

4: Security Issues

These are some of the most serious issues you can have with your website. If you have a customer complaint regarding somebody getting access to their account in some nefarious way, contact your server administrators immediately. Most of the time, common website issues are caused by server problems. There are times, however, where they are design problems and where you have to consult with your web designer to get the issue resolved.

9 Common Design Flaws that Frustrate Your Website’s Users

At one time or another, we have all visited a website that is so confusing and poorly-designed that it is not worth wasting any time or effort on.  Some webmasters are so focused on collecting information from their users that they overload their visitors with requests and instructions.  Other websites are simply annoying.  Listed here are some of the most common features of a website that frustrate visitors.

1.    Confusing Navigation – If a page is buried, has a broken link, or is not a part of the main navigation menu, it can take significantly longer for a user to find the content they are looking for.  If it takes more than 5 minutes to find a particular page, you can be sure that the user will be turned off and will more than likely never return.
2.    Pop-ups – No one likes pop-ups.  Even if the pop-ups serve a purpose and are not spam, users will be annoyed by the fact that they are being interrupted during their web browsing experience. If you must have ads on your website, then stick to traditional banner ads that won’t be so invasive.
3.    Complicated URL – Website addresses that include many words, symbols, numbers and dashes are unlikely to be memorable and will be less favorable in terms of SEO.  Instead of “http://www.the-best-fly-fishing-directory-on-the-web-2.com” use something along the lines of “http://www.fishingdirectory.com.”  Make sure that your URL is short and easy to remember.
4.    Too many fields on your forms – While having many different fields on your contact forms allows for the greatest amount of user information to be captured, you do not want to overload your website’s users.  Limit forms to four or five fields so that your user can quickly and easily fill them out.
5.    Cryptic CAPTCHA Images – With the increase of spam robots that auto-fill your website’s forms, it is necessary to include a CAPTCHA image or question to validate that your users are in fact human.  But if a user is required to retype a CAPTCHA value several times because it is too difficult to read, they may decide to navigate away from your site.  Instead, use simple math or logic questions to validate your users.
6.    Automatic Music or Video Player – Almost everyone has experienced the annoyance of automatic music players.  These players can be embarrassing at work, obtrusive and annoying and are simply unneeded.  Instead, wait for the user to click the “Play” button.
7.    Fixed Text Size – Websites that fail to use CSS to allow for scalable text can frustrate users who have bad vision or unusual display sizes.  Modern web designs allow browsers to adjust the size of the text that is displayed without fouling up the site’s layout.  Also make sure that your text is not displayed as an image and that it uses relative sizing (instead of absolute).
8.    Login to Comment – While it is fairly common to practice to force your website’s users to create an account and login in order to comment on forum threads and blogs, this cumbersome procedure often impedes your users from taking part in the dialogue within your website.  Instead of requiring an account to comment, simply ask your visitors to submit their name, email address, and website so that you still have their valuable contact information.
9.    Click “OK” to navigate away or “Cancel” to stay on this page – Recently, a trend has developed in which web designers attempt to trick users into staying on their web page.  By forcing users to click a popup button to navigate away from your page, you are leaving your potential customers with a bad taste in their mouth.  Let users leave if they so please…you know the old saying, “if you love something, set it free, if it was meant to be, it will come back to you.”

Users who have a negative experience on a website are likely to never return, so be careful not to drive them away with intrusive, complicated, or irritating features. While it is impossible to predict everything that will bother your site’s visitors, you will be much less likely to frustrate your guests if you avoid these common design and development pitfalls.Hiring a team of professionals to perform a usability test can provide you with the extra insight you need to optimize your website’s overall performance.

10 Simple Ways to Optimize Your Website

Web designers and developers are continually gaining new tools to facilitate effective website creation.  Compatibility, usability, interaction, visual appeal, and support for a website’s users are all important aspects for a designer or developer to consider when looking to present the most interesting and user-friendly site possible.  By implementing these simple suggestions, you can dramatically improve your users’ experience and the overall performance of your site.

1.    Optimize the search function on your website or blog to make it easy for your users to find the information or media that they are looking for. Tag everything from articles to pictures and videos so that all of the content on your website is searchable.  You want your users to spend a lot of time on your website, but you don’t want that time to be spent digging around for information that should be readily available.
2. Include links to all of your social network profiles on your homepage.  Visitors who are genuinely interested in you or your business should be able to easily connect with you via social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  By including these links, your users can get more involved in learning about your company and will get the feeling that there are real, compassionate people behind your website.
3. Create landing pages that direct users to the content that is most relevant to them.  Landing pages are convenient for your users because they can cut down on the time it takes for them to navigate through your website.  Landing pages can dramatically improve conversions from website visitors to leads by providing users with a direct path to the page or form you are hoping they will use.
4. Optimize your website for the iPhone and other mobile devices by creating a version of your site that is readable and usable on the popular mobile browsers.  Make sure that all text and media is formatted correctly for the smaller screen size and that your website’s style stays intact. Media Contour has an informative iPhone tutorial to get you started with making your website mobile-friendly.
5. Incorporate a text-to-speech application like Odiogo that allows your users to listen to an audio version of your website’s content.  This is especially useful for users who are blind, illiterate, too busy to read, or simply lazy.  Many people do not want to devote their time to reading a long blog article—by listening to it, they can browse through other sites or multi-task in other ways while they are enjoying your words of wisdom.  Media Contour has implemented this application so that you can try it out for yourself—just click the “listen now” button above this or any other KaBlog! article.
6. Create text alternatives or captions to describe the content for all of your website’s media (images, music, video, etc.).  This text alternative ensures that blind individuals can understand what a picture or photograph is portraying.  Similarly, it also allows your hearing-impaired visitors to understand what is being played within an audio file.
7. Allow your users to navigate your site using keyboard shortcuts.  Keyboard shortcuts can save time and prevent early onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Many users prefer not to use a mouse and some are unable to do so.  By installing keyboard shortcut compatibility, you will ensure that your website is usable for the widest range of visitors.
8. Provide your website’s users with helpful tools like an automatic spell checker, help or FAQ section, and bookmarking buttons.  The Help and FAQ pages can save time for your users when they encounter a problem or an error on your site or when they have a specific question.  The bookmarking buttons help users to easily remember and share your website within their network of friends, family, and professionals.

Tips specifically for e-commerce websites:

9. Provide an option for one-click checkout on every page so that users to do not have to spend time going back and forth between pages, potentially losing interest in purchasing your product or service as they waste more time navigating.
10. Include testimonials on your homepage, products page, or portfolio section that give your business a good reputation and help prospective customers gain trust and respect for your company’s products or services.  You want to be able to choose which reviews your users see—without testimonials on your site, you will force your customers to look elsewhere for reviews of your business.  These reviews, unlike the testimonials on your site, cannot be moderated by you.

While these suggestions are not appropriate for every website, they can be very valuable for a designer or developer looking to improve usability on multiple levels.  By optimizing your site for many diverse types of users with their own preferences, tendencies, and handicaps, you can increase traffic to your site and raise the standards by which designers and developers create their own works.  The Internet is for all to enjoy—you should make your visitors’ experience as pleasant and pain-free as possible.