Today, the quality of your website design has the potential to make or break your business.
As extreme as that may sound, virtually every consumer uses the internet to assist with purchasing decisions. And, because your website serves as the virtual face of your company online, the site’s design must rise to the challenge.
Let’s start with why effective site design is essential to your success in 2016.
Why Website Design Matters Today More Than Ever
Good site design has always been important. The reasons why it’s important, however, have changed significantly over time.
A decade ago, the biggest mistake a company could make was not having a site at all. Today, the significance is greater and much more complex
Telecommunications giant Ericsson says that, today, every consumer shopping and buying trend involves the internet in some way. But the implications go even deeper than this all-encompassing declaration.
Consumers also use the internet to influence others.
In other words, if you put the right online elements to work, you will attract new customers and generate more sales. But, even more important, consumers will market your business for you.
Of course, the reverse of that corollary can also be true, if you’re not careful. Dissatisfied consumers have the power to disparage your business to others online.
Design Mistake 1: Ignoring the Importance of AI
Do you interact regularly with Siri, Cortana or Alexa?
If you don’t, you’re in the minority. In fact, the Ericsson study predicts that device screens will become a relic of the past in the next five years! Instead, we will all simply chat with our Intelligent Assistant.
Intelligent Assistants (IAs) were little more than a novelty a few years ago. We all watched in amazement as IBM’s Watson did battle on Jeopardy. Today, however, this cognitive technology is driving the electronic ship.
In fact, PC Magazine’s Forward Thinking folks predict that IAs will be one of the most important trends in the coming years.
Watson, Siri and their peers operate on the principles of artificial intelligence, or AI. Using AI allows you to interact with your devices effectively using only your voice.
In fact, as the Internet of Things (IoT) concept continues to grow, you will soon turn on lights, adjust the thermostat and even make coffee using only your voice. Read the plans that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has for programming his own IA this year, for a better idea of how this might look.
To remain competitive in the marketplace, your site design had better be ready to play nice with the Intelligent Assistants!
Design Mistake 2: Not Using a Mobile-First, Responsive Design
Speaking of the disappearing screen, does you site work for any device?
We have talked in the past about responsive design, specifically in response to Google’s demanding mobile algorithm, which rolled out in the spring of 2015. But it’s important to delineate between responsive design and adaptive design.
Adaptive design involves adding variants of your website’s design for different devices. In other words, your site has one design for users on an iPhone, another version for those using a laptop and yet a different version for consumers using a tablet.
Responsive design means that your site automatically responds to the type of device being used. In this case, a single version of the site’s design is a one-size-fits-all solution.
To make this work effectively, start your design from the smallest possible point, the mobile-first approach.
This probably seems counterintuitive, because we’ve always started from the full screen design point, then subtracted elements to make the site work for small display devices. That doesn’t work any longer, because the majority of consumers conduct the majority of their online searching and shopping from their smartphones.
So, start by designing your website for the user on the go. Once that aspect of the interface is perfect, you can begin adding elements in for tablet, notebook and monitor or desktop display environments.
The next time we have this discussion, it will likely involve the changes required for virtual reality, or holographic displays, which are expected to become mainstream in less than five years!
Design Mistake 3: Not Designing around SEO and Local
In the olden days (you know, like 2008), search engine optimization (SEO) was something you added into your website design, almost as an afterthought.
Today, and probably every day going forward, SEO drives the ship. In fact, SEO is the ship. Unless you are optimized to the teeth for the search engines, you have no reason to even have a website.
As SEO continues to change and evolve, so too must your website design. Local searches carry the most importance to Google these days, so be sure your online strategies make ample use of any and all local tools.
Another way that SEO has changed recently is the move to conversational searches. (This relates directly to our discussion above about Intelligent Assistants.)
Google’s overarching goal today is to provide answers to questions, rather than providing results to queries. When you execute a “Hey, Siri” search, you’re much more likely to phrase it as a normal, conversational question.
So, your customers will be more prone to ask, “Where can I find the best burrito in West Jordan for lunch today?” than they are to spit out a string of words. Make sure your site’s SEO is ready to handle this new paradigm.
The right keywords, phrases and site content are the keys to meeting most of these challenges.
It’s no longer enough to stuff generalized keywords and phrases around your site and hope for the best. Instead, the essence of your brand and business model must be conveyed through engaging and constantly updated content that uses your key phrases and location in natural language that appeals to the consumer.
Preparing Your Website to Meet These Challenges
Of course, our list could go on to mention a host of other website design mistakes you should avoid. But perhaps it would be easier if we talked about those with you.
Be Locally specializes in creating value and building business for our customers through online marketing. From site design to SEO and pay-per-click marketing, our business is to improve your bottom line. Contact us today to learn more about the importance of SEO and your website design.
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