Is your website getting these seven elements right?

We can all agree, websites need to be user-friendly.

Unfortunately, the internet comprises sites that could comfortably be described as user-abrasive at best.

When it comes to a site being user friendly, CEO and co-founder of website design template startup Strikingly, David Chen, makes the case for simpler being better.

Speaking with Inc., he advocates less text, simpler navigation, design optimised for mobile, and no jargon.

Perhaps the American writer H.W. Longfellow summed it up best: “in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”

Seven mandatory elements for your small business website:

1. Simple navigation

This is easily the most important, so make it priority number one when designing or editing your site.

If your site is hard to navigate, it doesn’t matter what else it has going for it, it won’t deliver results.

If the structure is not completely intuitive and logical to you, it won’t be to anyone else.
Tablet displaying responsive design 

2. Smooth functionality

People use your site for a reason.

The site must do what it promises it will do, and quickly.

Part of the solution is short load times.

An Akamai study found if a site takes longer than three seconds to load, 40 per cent of users will abandon ship and visit a faster-loading site – probably owned by a competitor.

Test your website speeds with online tools such as Pingdom.

HubSpot’s product marketing director, Meghan Keaney Anderson says functionality is more impactful than “a good-looking website”.

“Make your site easier for visitors to move around throughout the sales cycle, instead of making them jump through hoops to become a customer,” Meghan advises.

To do that, make sure your website gives customers a clear path from research to purchase, Meghan says. 

3. Minimal text

Take it easy, Stephen King: blocks of text on your site will be skim-read at most.

White space is your friend.

David Chen argues that if the text is part of your site and not an article people want to read, then a simple rule applies: “the less text you have, the better and more beautiful it will be”.
Viewing website on tablet 

4. Content – fresh content

Content means video, infographics and articles people want to read.

And like bread, content can only last a little while before going stale.

Keep it fresh, keep it relevant, but even still, don’t go overboard and publish too much; leave the user wanting more. 

5. Clear contact information

A no-brainer – remember the last time you couldn’t find contact details on a site?

Chances are, you didn’t contact them.

You want your clients to get in touch. Make the details easy to find on every page in a top corner or in the footer.
Responsive website displaying on phone, tablet and laptop 

6. Engaging visuals: video, photography and graphics

This is more than just aesthetics: research indicates when users don’t trust a site, 94 per cent attribute their mistrust to the design.

If your website isn’t pretty, it’s costing you business.

Luckily, it’s easier and cheaper than ever before to have a beautiful-looking website.

Companies like Squarespace have built their success on providing sleek, affordably-designed websites that you can customise to your heart’s content.

Online graphic design marketplace 99Designs puts the skills of thousands of designers at your disposal for minimal cost.

But if you don’t have time, it’s time to call a new web designer.

7. Obvious action steps

Speaking with Entrepreneur.com, John Zhuang, of web design and search engine optimisation firm Winning Interactive, argues a site should be clear about the steps it wants users to take.

The next step might be for a customer to add a product to the shopping cart, or to call you for a free quote, Zhuang says.

He also suggests enticing potential customers with offers where they have to provide their contact details – a great way to gain new leads for sales.

You could offer a complimentary consultation to a downloadable guide or whitepaper to gain those leads.

Don’t be shy – customers are visiting your site, which means they’re curious.

Make your call to action obvious so customers will find it easy to buy from you.

Officeworks

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