Internet technology changes all the time – as does the way that people use it. We are constantly playing catch up when it comes to new ways to design this or build that, but one thing that thankfully doesn't shift quite so far so often is the primary function of a website. Its design and content will (and should!) change regularly, but it will always remain at its core a marketing channel for your business and thus should be polished, easy to use and visually appealing as a minimum regardless of the nuances of technology or design.
I just want to talk...
This might seem like a super basic requirement to a lot of us but a surprising amount of businesses these days make it very difficult to simply pick up the phone and give them a call. The reasons for this might be anything from not having enough resources to deal with a high call volume or a personal preference to receive enquiries via email, but for those businesses who don't have an issue with chatting to anyone who might be interested in what they have to offer, making your phone number (or general contact details) difficult to find is like planting trees in front of your main entrance. Eventually, customers will get sick of looking and move on, so make sure that your contact details – whether its a phone number or an email address are easy to find.
Death to the stock photo
Nobody these days has employees who all wear matching tailored suits, possess model-quality smiles and all stare at the same person whilst waiting to shake their hand in a well-lit, airy board room. Generic photos like this give off the vibe of being staged and lack warmth, and can negatively impact a customer's perception of your business.
Though the amount of images like this are pervasive in the world of accessible stock photography, it really pays to take some time to search for things which don't look staged or fake. Obviously, nothing beats using your own images, but it also needs to look professional – commissioning a photographer and working on building up a bank of images is a great idea. If you can't manage that, then there are high quality photography sites out there which avoid the stock photo stereotype, such as www.pexels.com and https://unsplash.com/.
Provide clear paths to results
Think about your content, and whether those news articles on the front page of your site are really things that your potential customers care about. It might be interesting to you to talk about moving office or what your developers top 5 rock songs are this week, and while these sorts of things are probably great for clients you have already built a relationship with, new leads might just be looking for how to get in touch (see above), or how equipped you are to help them with their specific requirements.
Removing (or minimising) extra clutter from crucial areas of your website can really help focus a user journey and prevent distraction, leading them right through to where they need to be, so make sure that those roads aren't blocked.
Write for humans
Keywords are important, but not so much that your website content should end up looking like alphabet soup. Including your chosen keywords is important for your SEO, but if you use them too much and too often you'll start to sound like a broken record, and actually find that your content is less easy to read. Try and write in a voice that is appropriate for the users of your website (some businesses have this included as a part of their branding guidelines) and make sure it reads well. Going through your static content and updating it regularly – that is, reading and editing, fixing any errors or simply rewriting it from a slightly different angle will help keep it fresh, too.
Mobile is imperative
Not all designs are made equal – and in this day and age it seems that their ability to render on mobile devices is really what separates the polished from the potatoes. It's more important than ever that your design works not only for desktop but also on tablets and mobile – mobile usage is huge and people now just expect a site to work on their phone, sometimes even better than it ought to on their desktop, and Google has been penalising non mobile friendly sites for over two years.
Responsive design is something that we do as standard to ensure that we aren't building one of those aforementioned mobile potatoes, so do take the time to check and make sure that all of your site's important functions work well and smoothly for the ever-growing mobile audience.
I wish I could say that it came as a surprise when I see websites sporting some of these quite obvious factors which may in fact hurt their business. The above points are all easy to check and fix, so why not go through your own site right now and give it a quick once over?
Or let us check your website for you - your users will thank you.