24 Aug How to Improve your Website’s Functionality in 6 Steps
Your website is the open window to your business, a way for customers to browse, enjoy and hopefully learn or buy from. It may be the first thing people see or know about your brand. Not only is it important that your website is attractive but it’s also vitally important that it’s easy to use. A slow loading website can be ignored in the click of a button. A website that suddenly plays tinny automated music as you scroll could put off people immediately.
It’s easy to create a website these days, but it doesn’t mean everyone should. Whether you have hired a professional to design it or you’ve gone down the DIY route, here are 6 ways you can improve your website’s functionality, so potential customers stay and come back.
- Use a content management system
It’s not a technical requirement to have a content management system (CMS) but there are several benefits. A CMS such as WordPress [link to a WordPress page], allows you to create pages easily through the use of templates, which is great if you’re building it yourself. This encourages a consistent look throughout the website as it grows. Without a CMS, it’s likely that your website will be built using static pages that are uploaded directly to servers, which means that anything you want to remove or change has to be done by a developer. If errors build up, this could be costly in time and money. With a CMS, you can easily make small changes yourself such as spelling corrections or deleting images or text as well as managing the layout of your pages
- Make sure you have a responsive design
Having a responsive design doesn’t just mean that the website looks good on a mobile phone or laptop. This is where Google comes in. If your website is not optimized and responsive then it will feature lower down in the rankings, Google gives websites that are not mobile friendly a lower ranking. As a result, you’ll lose out on a lot of traffic and potential sales.
So, to increase the chances of your website to be seen by customers, make sure it is fully responsive. When you are using WordPress or other similar website services, your website will automatically be adapted to all devices but if your website is created from scratch, you will have to ask your web developer to give your website a makeover to make it better for mobile devices.
- Get rid of any oversized images or videos
This is an easy one. There are many features that can make your website slow down and if it takes a long time to load, you’ll lose customers.
What is an oversized image?
Ideally, your page shouldn’t serve images larger than the size that’s rendered on the user’s screen. Anything larger than that slows down page load time.
You should make sure that your images load quickly and you can do that either through the plugins which reduce the size of your images or ask your website developer to fix this issue for you.
Other features that can slow down your website and must be avoided include:
- Using tables for layouts
- Frame-based designs
- Splash or entrance pages
- Marquee fonts
- Automated music or sound
- Multiple full-sized videos
- Use an SSL certificate
Once you have customers on your website or viewers looking into your online shop window, it’s important that you protect them. The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is only one letter, but the impact on your website’s performance is vital. The SSL certificate encrypts information you send between a web browser and a web server, protecting your users from attacks. As more cyber-attacks make the news, more people are looking for safe sites to visit. An HTTPS site will mean your customers feel more secure in using the site and more willing to input personal information. Another benefit is that Google favours HTTPS sites and they feature higher in the rankings, so this should really be a priority for your site.
- Ensure a consistent style
We don’t all have a ‘designer’s eye’ but if you have different fonts, colours and text sizes across your website, it’s likely to put people off. It will also look unprofessional and give your brand an unprofessional image. To avoid this problem, it’s good to create a brand style guide first and this can be followed on every page of your website. This guide will likely be created by your marketing team in collaboration with a design team. It should contain the colors your brand is using, the fonts, the navigation style and so on. All of this will help your designers create something in harmony with your brand.
“What kind of style are you looking for? Is it fashionable, sleek, traditional, practical, clean? Think of your target audience, your ideal client, the tone of voice you want to portray your brand colours, how you want people to see your business. Put a style guide together and follow it consistently” explains Fred Rickman, a tech writer at Boom Essays.
- Keep navigation simple
You have an attractive website, it’s loaded quickly, it’s responsive and features highly in google rankings. Customers are looking at it but can’t find what they’re looking for! This is because the website is too confusing to get around. Keep the navigation simple by using a horizontal menu with short descriptive labels, a good rule is to use a maximum of 7 labels or headings. The menu should be horizontal because it presents the options clearly and it is a more familiar design and navigation form than the vertical menu. Use just 1 level of dropdown menu and make sure you include a search box at the top of every page.
Your website could be the key to your business or enterprise. Its design and functionality are important to get the right message across to customers. There’s nothing worse than a website that takes ages to load, or a confusing site which unintentionally hides its products or information. These 6 steps to improve the functionality of your website will help you to avoid those mistakes and ensure your website features higher in google rankings and is seen by more potential customers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aimee Laurence is a social media marketing keynote speaker at Essay Writing Service and Essayroo. Her goals include engaging with her audience in a thoughtful way and helping improvement through personal connections.