In an age where getting yourself heard on the internet is akin to walking into a crowded saloon as the new town Sheriff, it’s important to remember that web design is less about bravado and showmanship and more about technique – after all, you may be able to twirl your pistols and dress like you run the town, but is your shooting as sharp as your dress sense? How does your website perform when it comes to converting visitors to your side? How many people will be cheering you on when you take on your rivals at high noon? There’s a good, a bad, and an ugly to web design – and if you want to survive in the wild and hard-bitten Badlands of the internet, you’d better start practicing your skills lest you remain an outlaw forever!
The first and most important step to take in web design is to ignore ‘SEO lies’. There are a number of outlaws out there who would be willing to sell you all sorts of untruths about what they can and can’t do for your website – and the fact is that no one can guarantee you the top spot on Google unless the right techniques are used. Some SEO outlaws may try and tell you that there’s gold in using as many keywords as possible, and that creating an effective SEO strategy is a one-off job. Partner, this just isn’t true. SEO is an ongoing process, and one which requires delicate use of keywords, links and attention to organic content plus much more. So before we outline what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s ugly about ineffective websites, it’s important to remember that not all SEO merchants in this town offer honourable means.
Look good, work better. You put up a good front, you dress well and you walk the walk – but can you talk the talk? A good website’s bite is as good as its bark, and offers uncomplicated browsing with key areas signposted throughout. You may well have a great looking blog or website, but without making it user friendly, you may as well head out of town. A good website looks good and plays fair.
Don your white stetson. Getting good at White Hat SEO will earn you respect from your visitors, as this is a process that requires you to build and write your website with a human reader in mind, not just Google’s web crawlers. A good website builds links and uses keywords organically, and speaks how it wants to be spoken to.
Rally your townsfolk. Calls to Action are essential if you want to create leads through your website. They inspire your visitors to follow through and do further business, or to visit regularly – people like things being spelt out to them, and a good website – like a good sheriff – appeals to its people in order to rally support.
Make contact easy. A good sheriff – or website – also makes himself available for his people. Using a webform enables visitors to contact you directly without having to go around the houses and use an external email client. Good websites know that a webform cuts out the hassle for visitors, and that they should ideally be available throughout.
Keep ‘em informed. Townspeople love to be kept in the loop, and so do website visitors. If you’re looking to create regular trade with the same visitors, it’s likely you’ll benefit from an email subscription list or two – so you can market directly to those who want to do further trade with you.
Be Sociable. The last asset of a good sheriff or website is being social. Adding social media buttons to your website enables your visitors to effectively advertise your services for you – through organic word-of-mouth. The more people talk about how great you are, the more successful you’ll be – it’s as simple as that, partner.
Talk clearly. A bad website is one that depends upon jargon and technical terms, and no one likes a sheriff that doesn’t know how to appeal to his townsfolk. Anyone browsing a jargon-heavy site will likely browse elsewhere, meaning that you’ve lost an ally off the bat.
Don’t be a turtle. Slow-loading websites still exist even in the age of broadband – and to keep up with the sharpest of shooters, you’re gonna need to make sure your website’s not clogged up with slow-loading images or assets that detract from your visitors’ attention. If a website is too slow, your visitors will go elsewhere.
Be adaptable. This is crucial – mobile browsing has outgrown desktop browsing significantly in the past few years, to the point where the vast majority of major websites now offer mobile versions of their main pages in order for users on smartphones and tablets to browse easily. Having the one web design for all platforms shows lack of knowledge and respect for advancing technology and for the habits and preferences of your audience – so go easy on ‘em, sheriff. Get your site looking and working great for as many platforms as you can.
Smarten yourself up. While a good sheriff talks the talk and walks the walk, housekeeping is good no matter what you’re selling when it comes to web design. Broken links and poor website coding will infuriate visitors and will even offset web crawlers – meaning that you’ll be pushing yourself out of the market twofold. Make sure what you’ve got works well before saddling up and leaving town.
Lings Cars – A well known example of a VERY busy website.
Getting your website the respect and visitors it deserves needn’t feel like high noon – for he
Presentation is key. As mentioned, a good website looks good – this much is true – but a great website avoids the pitfalls of large, flashy and annoying pictures. Too much emphasis on presentation can crowd a website and can really do damage to your brand. Ugly websites are just that – they don’t take care of themselves!
Take out the pop-ups. Pop-ups are nasty little varmints that the majority of web users are now confidently silencing thanks to free ad blocking software. Even so, there are a fair few users out there that dare brave the wilds of the internet without a pop-up blocker, meaning that you’ll do well removing them from your page completely. No one likes them – they’re loud, intrusive and often ineffective. Chase them outta town!
Less is more. Over-presentation, or cramming your website full of every gizmo and widget available, may come across as either over-compensation, or as incredibly infuriating. Scramble a website together full of random assets, pictures and non-sensical content and you’ll be looking down the barrel of a duel at high noon – and you can kiss your townsfolk goodbye. Keep it simple, easy to browse, easy to read!
Music. Music should be kept to the saloon piano, and should never be present on a website, partner. End of story!
Cut it down. Incredibly long vertical websites are particularly unattractive to visitors – why not spread your content out over several pages? As much as folks like to read, you’ll be hard pushed to find anyone likely to keep scrolling as far as the day is long.
For help and support on all matters SEO and web design, why not saddle up and give SEO CoPilot a call today on 01246 540869? We’ll be your deputies in the battle for respect, glory and gold in the wild, wild internet west!