Good website design improves conversions and lowers bounce rates
Is your business website performing as well as you want it to? If your pages aren't getting many hits, or too many visitors are leaving before placing orders, you need to work on making your website more attractive and engaging – to users as well as search engines.
Businesses set up websites for different reasons, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach to web design. However, there are some key features that shouldn't be ignored if you want your site to attract more leads and encourage more purchases, subscriptions or enquiries.
Following are the nine most important elements of websites to know about in 2020 and why you need them. How many of these essentials does your website check off?
1. Straightforward navigation
Help your site visitors to find what they're looking for by making navigation clear and intuitive. Whatever page someone lands on, they should be able to find their target page in as few steps as possible.
- Limit main menu options to what's most important, to avoid being overwhelming.
- Navigation should reflect your site's structure and link to all pages. If this looks too cluttered, consider whether you really need so many individual pages or if they could be combined.
- Avoid hidden 'hamburger' menus, as these don't work on all mobile devices and could count against your site's SEO.
- Include a search function so users can find a specific product or page instantly.
2. Responsive design
Most people now view websites on mobiles. Google has responded to this trend by indexing the mobile versions of new websites as a priority over desktop versions, so your website needs to be mobile-friendly in 2020.
Sites that aren't mobile-friendly are penalized in Google search results. Users will also leave in frustration if they find your site hard to use on their device.
If you're using a website theme, check with your hosting company that the theme is responsive and will display correctly on both mobile and desktop screens. You can also use Google's mobile-friendly test or, better still, check your website using your phone to see how it performs.
3. Fast page loading times
Nothing turns away visitors faster than a slow page. The longer your page takes to load, the higher the bounce rate and the lower the chance of conversions.
You can check your page's loading time using Google's PageSpeed Insights. Slow loading times may be due to a cheap web hosting service or too many visual elements on the page that take time to load.
To improve loading times:
- Upgrade to a better hosting service or CMS
- Reduce the number of images, videos or ads on the page
- Reduce the size of image files without losing quality using tools such as compressor.io
- Carry out a website audit to identify and fix errors that are causing lag
Google is now penalizing sites that use non-secure HTTP encryption on its search engine and Chrome browser.
If your site includes images or other mixed content using HTTP, this content will be blocked and visitors will be warned that your site is potentially harmful.
Upgrading to secure HTTPS encryption will help protect you and your customers against cyberattacks, improve your Google rank, and help your site visitors to feel more secure.
5. High quality content
Whether you're selling a product or service or just providing information, every page on your website needs to solve a problem that site visitors are searching for. If they can't easily find the answers they need, or they're not impressed, they'll search somewhere else.
To make your site more appealing, engaging and relevant to readers:
- Write in the language of your target audience
- Use short sentences and paragraphs that are easy to read
- Tell readers how you can help them, not about yourself
- Proofread everything you write for spelling, grammar and other mistakes before publishing
- Publish a blog with regular updates to keep your site active
For more tips, read our guide to getting started with content.
6. Readable layout
However well-written your pages are, visitors are going to be put off if they're badly formatted. This makes pages less appealing to read and makes it harder for people to find what they're looking for.
To make your pages more readable:
- Leave white space between and around sections to break up the page and make it easier to scan
- Emphasize the most important points in bold
- Use subheadings, lists, tables and other formatting to make content easier to digest
Too many visual elements can slow down a page, but images are essential for engaging reader interest.
- Include at least one image for everything you publish – web pages, blogs, even short social media posts
- Images should be high quality and relevant to the topic or tone
- Unique images work better than stock images
- Make sure you have the right to use an image or source royalty-free images through a custom Google search or free image websites
The fastest-growing type of content, video is even more engaging than images and increases the amount of time people spend on your site.
- Live stream events, workshops and Q&As to encourage interaction
- Supplement text with explainer videos to show your products or services in action
- Create animations to explain processes or ideas step by step
- Consider hiring a professional video production team or voice-over artists to make sure your videos are competitive
9. Clear calls to action
Every page on your website should have a clear purpose. This should be made clear to the reader through visible calls to action (CTAs) guiding them to the next step on their journey.
Depending on the purpose of the page, the CTA could be:
- Adding an item to their shopping cart
- Proceeding to checkout
- Signing up to your email list
- Downloading a free ebook
- Finding out more information
- Getting in touch
Big and bold CTA buttons catch the eye and increase conversions, but a CTA can also be as simple as a link.
Get started with your new website
Do you need a new website or want to upgrade your old site for the new year? Limecube's drag and drop website builder is easy to use, with a wide selection of responsive themes that can be customised to suit your brand.