Everyone has some awareness that their site needs good web design to keep visitors on it. After all, no-one wants their website to be some sort of internet scenery that people say “ooh” at but pass by quickly and forget.
Web design's changing and it’s becoming increasingly important too that your website holds people’s attention and compels them to browse other pages. In addition to the constant ever growing competition from other websites all vying for traffic and engaged visitors, there’s the recent Google updates which have really changed the game in terms of how you should approach your site.
You’ll find some people complaining about Panda (the name of the recent change to how Google ranks sites) but actually it has a very good intention. Its focus is on quality content, so it now judges your site not just by how many people visit it, but also by how long they spend on it and how many different pages they visit. The idea being that if your site’s really interesting and engaging, it’ll be ranked as more relevant and useful.
Which really does make sense when you think about it.
It’s also intimidating when you think about it. In an increasingly crowded digital world where people’s attention spans are shrinking, how do you hold on to their interest?
Making your site “sticky” is something that should form part of your business strategy, not just your SEO strategy. You need to start with the point of your site. What do you ultimately want visitors to do? Your site needs to be geared towards this action, and this is where the user journey is very very important.
Once they’re on your homepage how do you compel them to go to other pages? Your strategy for this needs to not only cover the content in the pages (which I’ll come onto) but also your overall site design – how it’s put together, its personality and emphasis.
Ok, it’s not getting less intimidating. But no-one said web design was easy. That’s why you get professionals in to help you.
To get the best design you need to have a clear idea in your head of what you want visitors to do on your site so you can work out with your designer the best user journey and how to create it.
You also need to have a clear sense of your brand identity and the persona of your business as well as, crucially, what your audience wants. This will enable your designer to build a concept that reflects you and also speaks to your target market and draws them in.
HTML 5 can create some great features – think about how you can extend your brand online and bring it to life. A game? Something your visitors can create or do themselves? But if it’s not relevant and doesn’t add anything, it will probably annoy your visitors more than engage them. Push for creativity, but avoid gimmicks and cheap tricks.