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Web Design Basics – What’s in the Optimal Website?

There are almost 1 billion active websites available for viewing on the internet. So why are some more popular than others? We decided to dissect a few of the most successful sites to see what they’re made of.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, here are some of the web design components that we feel are essential to creating the “Optimal Website”.

Design for multiple platforms.
As of the time of writing this article, over 40% of current web traffic is from mobile/tablet devices, and that number is growing. Also, consider that a recent algorithm update by Google has increased the weight of mobile-compatibility in search ranks. Whether you’re a believer in adaptive, responsive, or platform specific website designs, it is critical that you don’t ignore this segment of your users.

Navigation that is simple and descriptive.
Did you know that the majority of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a webpage? While there are an infinite number of reasons for this, there have been several studies that suggest many users give up on websites because they are unable to find what they were looking for quickly. To increase on-page opportunities, plan ahead by drawing or laying out sitemaps and menus that make it as easy as possible to find information on your site. Simple navigation with one click access to information is optimal.

Non-disruptive User Interface (UI).
Usability may be a subjective concept, but there are some things that nearly everyone can agree upon. Slow loading websites are frustrating, and non-closable popups are irritating to users. You don’t need or want to put up roadblocks between your readers and your content, so spend a little extra time streamlining your UI. Be sure to create a clear path to where you want your users to end up or what action you would like them to take. This means planning a strategy for what you want your users to do. Ask yourself “what is the goal?” A well planned UI can not only save your website visitors a lot of frustration, but can also result in a nice increase to your bottom line.

Quality Content.
There are many reasons why people visit websites. Some people are looking for unique and useful information. Others are looking to solve problems, both personal and for business. Whatever the reason for visiting, nobody wants to read a poorly written article or one that they have seen on another website. Poor copy writing and plagiarism are rampant on the internet. Take time to research your topic, and put your own thoughts on the matter into writing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly.
At least half of all searches end with the user clicking on the top 2 organic listings. There are countless guides available online that can help you make wise decisions about your site optimization techniques, but a solid SEO plan is going to be your greatest ally. Remember that fresh, keyword accurate content will always yield better results. Also, don’t forget to write for your readers, and not solely for search engines.

Social Media components.
There are over a billion people using social media every day. Wouldn’t it be nice to reach a targeted segment of them for your business? You can start by making sure that your content is easily sharable. Put “like” and “share” buttons as close to content as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask your readers to click them. Go ahead… get some of that “crowd-sourced” traffic!

Website Traffic Analytics.
If you want to improve your site, the first thing you should do is get to know your audience and what they are reading. Over time, tracking analytics and user behavior can tell you what’s working on your website, and more importantly, what isn’t. Spend more time catering to your audience’s wants and needs then reap the rewards. Just don’t give up on expanding your reach into new topics or demographics. There is no website that is visited by every single person browsing the internet, so there is always going to be someone new that you can convert to a loyal reader.

Informational Footer.
So, your reader made it to the end of your page? Congratulations! But you don’t want them to leave already!  Here is your chance to place some quick navigation links, calling out other services or maybe presenting a special offer. You can also include links to your social media profiles. Be sure not to forget to supply your visitors with contact information and a copyright notice in the footer, as well.

Have you covered these web design basics on your site? Is there something missing from our list?

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