A digital presence is a must-have for every business and the recent quarantine that occurred for the majority of the country (and the world) has made that crystal clear. Since your online presence is so important now is the time to make sure your website is optimized for peak performance and usability. Whether you’re creating a new website from scratch, redesigning your current site, or just want to make a few updates to an existing website, here are some essential tips to consider.
Is your site user friendly? Is it easy to navigate and find important information? According to webfx.com, 89% of consumers shop with a competitor after a poor user experience. This means your navigation should be orderly, the site should load quickly, and make sure to keep distracting elements like pop ups to a minimum.
The rise of use of mobile devices has led many designers to implement the mobile-first design philosophy. Basically this means that when creating a website, one should consider the mobile layout first. A big aspect of that is the mobile scrolling thumb zone. This is the area that is easiest for thumbs to reach. You’ve probably experienced a site at some point where the navigation or a button that was a stretch to reach or even you had to use two hands. Here is a graphic mockup of this zone from smashingmagazine.com:
Another handy tool for auditing the mobile usability of your website is Google Search Console. This offers a Mobile Usability report which shows pages or elements that have usability issues when viewed on mobile devices. Some of these errors might include: content is wider than the screen, text is too small to read, clickable elements are too close together, and more. Once you believe you have fixed the errors you can request Google to validate your changes.
#2. Interesting Elements
After you know that your site is easy to navigate you should consider if it is interesting. A dull site will also cause users to leave almost as quickly as one that is difficult to use. Webfx.com says that users spend a whopping 88% more time on pages with videos! If you’re selling products you will definitely want to consider creating videos showcasing each item. If you’re selling a service you can make a video describing your offerings. Or hire a professional to create animations depicting your services. Either way, the more professional the video, the more credible your business appears.
Interactivity is a great way to surprise and engage users. An excellent example is the new ThrivePOP website! Take a peak and you’ll notice that there are lots of fun, decorative elements that move in reaction to your mouse. Another creative design element is scrolling interactivity. This can happen any number of ways but basically as a user scrolls different elements are revealed or move, take a look at this website which uses a lot of these elements.
Micro animations are another emerging trend that gives a website a surprising pop of playfulness. Thedigital.com showcases two really nice examples, the first shows how these animations can be fun or even guide the visitor’s eye to important elements:
The second shows how one might use animations to spice up an e-commerce site:
Another easy way to engage with visitors is to install a HubSpot chatbot. These can be configured to ask or answer basic questions during off-hours and during open hours it will send notifications to someone on your team. Visitors generally appreciate having a “person” to talk to and it can help them find what they are looking for more quickly which often results in conversions.
#3. Bounce Rate
Decreasing a website’s bounce rate means cutting down the number of visitors who bounce or leave your site quickly. According to neilpatel.com a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. That means if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second delay could potentially cost $2.5 million in lost sales a year.
Oversized images are a common problem that can slow a site down. A handy tool for checking if your images are too large is https://gtmetrix.com/. This tool will show you a list of images that need to be optimized and it will even provide a link to an optimized version!
After the oversized images are taken care of you can use any number of plugins to “lazy load” photos. This means that the photos aren’t loaded until the user scrolls to them. This way the site can load other assets more quickly and improves overall load time.
Finally, if you don’t already have a caching plugin in place, go install one now! Wonder exactly what a cache is? Cache stores temporary data of a website for faster access time at a later date inside the disk or RAM. Because this data is temporarily stored it can easily remember and duplicate site content. As a result, website content loads much faster. A caching plugin will implement a still version of your content when you return to a web page and automatically generates and fills available fields.