This is Block 81's archive of past articles. Once in a while we may add more, but it's rare.
Block 81 is a design studio producing beautifully crafted websites and brands for independent businesses and startups.
October 30, 2015
Every successful website has something in common - the elements behind it.
From optimization to a smooth user experience, it takes numerous elements to create a site visitors want to come back to. Without these elements, your site could fall short of a visitor and potential customer’s expectations.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or going through a redesign, ensure all these elements are taken care of.
Mobile compatibility or responsive websites aren’t just an option, they’re a necessity. With Google’s Mobilegeddon and smartphone owners spending more than three hours a day on their devices, your business’s site needs to work well on mobile. It helps your rank and places you in front of more potential customers. Going with a responsive design works best as it means you only have a single site to manage. It also allows your site to stay compatible with current and future devices.
Creating a pleasant and engaging user experience (UX) helps improve user satisfaction. This element includes anything that enhances a visitor’s experience with a company, such as content, site performance and even site design. While part of the UX includes the user interface (UI), the two terms shouldn’t be confused.
The UX is the whole package. Even the most beautiful interface isn’t going to satisfy visitors if the rest of their experience is terrible. For instance, if the site takes 10 seconds to load each page, visitors are going to leave, even if you have the most cutting edge UI.
The UI focuses on the actual interface visitors interact with. This includes interaction design, presentation and mainly visual front-end portions of the site. For success, a site needs to focus on both the UI and UX for the best overall experience for visitors.
Many sites focus more on one or the other. The UI is what visitors see first. It needs to impress them and draw them in. Without focusing equally on the UI and UX, you create an unbalanced site that leaves visitors with a half done impression.
Optimizing a site boosts your search engine rank. Today’s SEO includes items such as using H1/H2 tags within content, using long tail keywords naturally, writing longer content (1600 to 2450 words is ideal), internal links and incorporating keywords in URLs, meta descriptions and page titles.
Simply stuffing in keywords and buying thousands of backlinks isn’t going to work. Google wants more natural keywords and content that’s written for readers, not search engines.
Google and other search engines rank longer content with few grammatical mistakes higher. The better your content, the more likely visitors are to stick around and read it. The longer they stay on your site, the better your site ranks.
It’s also important to focus on creating truly useful or entertaining content. When visitors love the content they’re reading, they’re far more likely to share it. This boosts your presence on social media.
Modern sites should have smart content. This dynamic content changes based on user behavior on your site to provide a more personal experience. At the very least, content should change regularly to keep your site fresh.
A good example of smart content is Amazon. The site recommends products based on recent searches and even sends out emails with product recommendations based on past purchases. Visitors love the personal touch. It’s also a good way to keep them interacting with your site.
Analytics are a must for tracking visitor activity. It aids in marketing by telling you where visitors originate from and helps guide site improvements for better traffic. For instance, if you’re running an ad campaign on three different social networks, analytics tell you which campaign led to more visitors. This allows you to better plan your marketing in the future.
While Google Analytics is commonly used, there are several other analytics tools for you to use to monitor site performance. From seeing which pages perform well to better understanding your visitors, it’s a must for every single website.
Images and videos are more engaging for visitors. The top ranking sites have an average of seven images per page. Visitors love visual content. It breaks up text. Look at sites like Buzzfeed. Even without long form content, the site is still incredibly popular.
Make certain all images and videos you use are relevant. Also ensure they’re not slowing down your site. Compressing file sizes to load pages faster will help.
Social is expected by visitors now. Connect with visitors by including links to your social channels. These are often in the header, sidebar or footer of your webpages. The next step is to include social sharing buttons on your content and products, if applicable. The easier it is for visitors to share content, the more likely they are to do so.
While not required, some sites include social proof. They list the total number of shares and followers. This can also backfire sometimes if your business is just starting out on social media. Many sites wait until they’ve built a following before adding in numbers.
Any site looking to build their lead list or newsletter subscription must have clear and easy to use opt-in forms. Contact forms, or at least contact information, are also a must for any site for visitors to provide feedback and ask questions.
Think about it this way. Would you trust a site that didn’t offer any way to contact them? While contact forms are the easiest, you can provide a list of different ways to contact you, such as email and social media.
Every site needs a clear call to action. This tells visitors what you want them to do on your site. Without it, visitors might not sign up for email, check out promotions or contact you for more details.
The CTA should stand out. Some of the more effective methods are using larger fonts, adding an image based version to the sidebar or having a pop-over appear during certain actions. While the CTA shouldn’t take over the site, it should be noticeable so visitors never have to search for a way to sign up, contact you or even order products.
For branding purposes, a logo is vital. It’s the one element visitors recognize from your site to your social channels to your products and services. Consider it another part of your branding strategy. Creating a unified brand across your entire Internet presence ensures visitors recognize you no matter where they encounter you. The logo should represent your business’s tone and personality and be easily visible in your header.
Typography not only guides visitors through your content, but it can also represent the tone of your brand. Make sure any typography used is easy to read and helps visitors distinguish what’s most important on your site. For instance, you’d want the typography for your CTA to be different than your blog posts.
Visitors usually expect important aspects of your site, such as content titles, CTAs and vital information, to be larger. As content lessens in importance, the size decreases.
These elements are one of the main reasons businesses should partner with an experienced and innovative design and development team. The combination leads to a site that reflects your brand perfectly and incorporates all the necessary elements for a site your visitors will keep revisiting.
Missing a few elements? Give your site new life and even create more memorable branding by working with us.
Image: Chasing Daisy