In today’s competitive landscape, it’s not enough to just have a digital presence. Thousands of pre-made templates and themes make creating a website easier than ever, but these beginner-friendly, non-technical tools often produce ineffective websites.
Separating your website from the mediocre masses is essential to attracting visitors and converting them into engaged clients with relationships that last.
Our team at Seadev have condensed our learnings from 215+ recently completed projects into the following checklist of must-haves that define web development in 2018. In this article, we’ll share with you the indispensable UI/UX characteristics and technicalities of an effective website that creates visitor engagement and conversions for your business goals.
- Memorable domain name
Competition for domain names is getting fierce. If you plan to opt for the most common “.com” domain extension, chances are, the obvious ones are already taken. Be creative and strategic. Check out these tips to find your best domain:
- Opt for one of the hundreds of alternative domain extensions like .guru, .tech, .press, .website, .actor, .photography, .tips, .company, etc.
- Try out a location-specific domain extension that highlights your territory. An example is our own site: seadev.us.
- Apply your unique brand identity to your domain name. If you’ve created a business name as original as you are and apply it to your domain name, eventually, you may be able to turn your brand into a globally recognized domain such as Facebook and Yelp.
But don’t be discouraged before you begin. Seven out of ten times, people are still able to find a .com domain name that aligns with their business!
- Responsive design
At Seadev, we always recommend responsive web design (RWD). This ensures your site will display properly on any device, including desktops, mobile phones, tablets, or even smartwatches. Whatever the user is viewing your website from, the page elements will be designed to move, resize, and adapt to ensure optimal user experience (UX).
You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your website is well-designed for mobile devices.
- Content strategy: Rich content
Your website may be beautiful to look at, but ultimately, it’s useful content that your visitors are looking for. That said, in 2018, usefulness alone won’t guarantee your content gets read. “Rich” and “bite-sized” content have become popular buzzwords for copywriters and webmasters alike and are two key attributes of an effective website.
Most visitors read only 20-28% of the text on a website. Since 90% of the information our brains can memorize is in visual form, by transforming key text into Rich Content, which is visuals and interactives, you can dramatically increase visitor engagement. Here are a few examples:
- Polls and Surveys
- EBooks/White Papers
- Content strategy: Bite-sized content
Studies have demonstrated that the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds as of this writing. That’s shorter than that of a goldfish. Thus it’s now essential that websites offer content that visitors can quickly see, skim, and share.
The key is to use bite-sized content that provides a takeaway without needing a long explanation. Using memes, gifs, video clips, and pictures can speak a thousand words in just a few seconds.
- Fast Page Loading Speed
Have you ever visited a website that took longer than 3 seconds to load? If you’re like most people, you lost patience and navigated away. That’s why it’s crucial for your website to have loading speeds so fast, they feel instantaneous.
Fast loading speed is not only a decisive determinant of user experience, bounce rate, actual conversion, and user loyalty, but also an explicitly stated factor in Google ranking algorithms.
- SEO savvy
In addition to content relevance and usefulness, you need baked-in SEO to reach the top of Google Search Results Pages (SERPs). There are countless technicalities involved in optimizing your website for Google indexing. To name a few:
- Proper use of keywords in HTML elements, such as <title> tags, meta descriptions, <h1> and <img> tags
- Easily indexable site structure with a strong sitemap
- Proper use of redirects
- Canonical relationships between pages
- Securing HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
- Inbound links and their quality
- Signals of social media
- Proper benchmarking to track SEO performance over time
A website development company with SEO expertise like Seadev will be able to ensure all of your bases are covered.
- Intuitive navigation
Don’t make your visitors hunt to find your Contact button. Easy to understand website navigation is key to effective user experience.
In 2018, the world is moving away from basic blue-and-white URLs navigation. The pursuit of visually pleasing websites has given birth to several navigation styles:
- Tabs and Breadcrumbs
- Vertical Menus & Mega Menus
- Search Bars
- Fixed or Sticky Bars
- Ghost buttons
- Single scrolling pages and SPAs
- Cyber Security
If you host a website for a small local business or mom-and-pop shop, you may be surprised to learn that 43% of world-wide cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses.
2017 was dubbed the “Worst year ever in data breaches and cyber incidents around the world,” and saw cyber attacks aimed at businesses nearly double to 159,700. These staggering figures require you to enlist competent partners to keep an eye on every cyber challenge, on both the front and back ends to proactively protect your business and clients, regardless of your business size or industry.
- Performance Tracking
When creating your new website, your hope is that your potential clients will automatically find and conduct business with you. However, online success rarely happens so simply. Either sooner or later, you’re going to need to take an active role in boosting visitorship and conversions.
Tools like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and bing Webmaster Tools can help to accurately and efficiently calculate your return on investment and monitor traffic, engagement, and conversion rates. Understanding why customers come to, stay on, or leave your website will empower you to adjust strategies to maximize results. However, technical integration of these tools and analytics of your data to troubleshoot your way to success is no easy task for a beginner.
Working with a partner agency like Seadev can make the distillation of your action steps a much more pleasant and effective process.
- Full integration with Social Media and Offsite Reviews
Building your digital community and increasing engaging through social media channels and online review sites has become essential rather than optional for online success in 2018.
Not only should you embrace the many social media marketing and offsite review options that are available to your business, it’s key that you also make links to these channels clearly visible on your website.