The internet has changed dramatically since Essex Portal first sprung to life in 2008; over the last 12 years websites have gone from a “nice to have” for businesses to a vital marketing tool. But, even today few business owners understand what makes a website good. So let’s take a look at what makes a good website today, and what you need to do (instruct your web designer to do) to make sure it will still be relevant over the next decade.
Perfect Branding and Design
Although the digital age has revolutionised how we market businesses, the two most important features of a website have not changed – it must look professional and support and enhance your brand. The design of the site is essentially what will help sell your business services – everything else is just helps your website reach a wider audience. Ask your designer how they will brand your website and also how they will ensure it provides a fantastic user experience (UX) throughout.
Websites must be simple, but effective. The KISS acronym (keep it simple, silly!) is never more apt than today. Today, websites must work equally well on all platforms, as well as being coded to optimise your search engine positions. This means a website must work well on all mobile devices, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Looking great on all platforms is only the start though, it needs to load fast and be error free.
A fast website will often out compete slower rivals in your market, so building a new website today that is mobile friendly and fast loading could provide very quick returns on your investment. We are seeing more web design in Essex that follows these rules, and they are getting great results.
Load speed of a website is now a Google ranking factor – this means that a Google will show websites higher in the search engines if they load faster – and any website that loads slower than around 3 seconds will find itself dropping in search. So, a slow website can literally kill your business. Your website must score high in Google’s mobile testing tool – and not just the home page, but all pages on the site.
SEO Based Site Architecture
This may sound complicated, but all it really means is that a good website must be designed to allow you to easily SEO optimise it. This means the content management system must create clean URLs (short, no meaningless symbols) and allow you to edit meta titles and descriptions, add alt text to images and structure pages with best standards in mind, with headers and error-free HTML.
In addition to the above, which has been best practice for the last 10 years already, you should also have Rich Snippets and social media built in to your website, as well as reviews (Trust Pilot is a popular option at the moment) to provide your customers with richer and more useful content to support their buying decision. Rich Snippets are also being used increasingly in Google, and in some business niches it can be easier to rank at number 1 in Google with a good Rich Snippet than a traditional organic search result.
Beyond the Website
As well as building a great website you need to market it all over the internet. Be listed in relevant UK business directories, have social media profiles, a LinkedIn business page, do PR and get news stories about your business in the mainstream media, get mentions and endorsements from social media influencers and work on getting good reviews too – follow up negative reviews and see if you can persuade a customer to turn it into a good review with some traditional customer after-care.
Wed design in 2020 is not hugely different to how it was in 2010, the same principles apply, just today they need to be implemented in a more advanced and technical way.