Your website is your face to the world and business decisions will be made in milliseconds when it’s visited. Your site can be a game-changer or an also-ran. Take a look at your site now to see if it’s good-to-go on at least these five things:
HTTPS—Every website URL should start with the letters https, not just http, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive information. If you don’t do it for yourself and your company, do it for your visitors. The world is full of “bad guys” who want to exploit every opportunity to maliciously hack or install malware on an unprotected site. It will soon be mandatory to be HTTPS, which is Secure HTTP, so if your website URL is still simply HTTP (without the S for secure), fix it now.
White Space—White space is a term used for empty space in a website. It doesn’t need to be white. It just needs to be empty. White space around paragraphs and between sentences increases comprehension and encourages reading. White space helps guide a user from one idea to the next… increasing the chance of contact, interaction, or a sale.
Color—Similar to the power of white space, color is critical. First, limit the palette to 2 or 3 major colors, a single background color (white is best), and one accent color. Use a link color that is visible to the color blind. Choose colors that complement your brand image (logo) and your brand identity (who you say you are). Explore the psychology of color here. (spoiler alert: blue is safe).
CTAs—Calls to Action are things such as email or newsletter subscription forms, free downloads, contact links, social media sharing, videos to be viewed, or prompting for a question. A CTA creates a connection between you and your visitor. In all business, relationship building is the key to success, and strong CTAs can help get you there.
Clean Code—You can’t see it, but it’s probably the most important element of a great website. If you’ve never used your browser to view a website’s code, you should try it. Template-based sites tend to have hundreds, even thousands of lines of code, most of it unused. But every line has to load. A well-coded site has only the code it needs. It’s lightning-fast and provides the ultimate user experience every time. To check your site’s code in the Chrome browser, open your website; in Chrome’s navigation bar, click View, Developer, View Source.
But what about SEO, navigation, site maps, action buttons, optimized images, web fonts, responsive design, and you name it? Well, there’s always another day for another helpful blog about user-centered websites. If you can’t wait, call us. (772) 936-7969.
Human-Centered Design is a creative approach that serves as the backbone of what we do at ActiveCanvas — design for the people you serve.
Basically, it’s a design process, or framework, we use to develop solutions to problems from the human perspective. It focuses on the users of your product or service, rather than merely describe who you are, what you offer, and why people should care.
Most businesses work very hard at describing what they do, how long they’ve done it, and what people say about them. A human-centered design approach focuses on solving problems and presenting solutions. From our perspective, human-centered design is about building a deep empathy with the people for whom you’re designing and for the people you serve. It takes a bit longer to generate ideas, build prototypes, write copy, edit (then write even better copy) and search for just the right imagery and palettes. It means generating tons of ideas; sharing what we’ve made with you to be sure we’re on the right track; and eventually putting words, images, and solutions out to the world.
There are three phases:
Inspiration. We listen to you describe the relationship you want considering your idea of success, your product/service, and the needs and wants of the people you most desire as customers.
Ideation. Based on all that we learned, we now write descriptive copy, do a little story-branding, research your competitors and identify opportunities for design and solutions.
Implementation. After we share what we’ve learned and you approve the look, feel, content, direction, and solutions we put on the table, we bring it all to life using custom designs, real coding, brilliant copy, and beautiful images.
We know our design process will be a success because we’ve kept the very people you want to serve at the center of the process. Could human-centered design be good for your business? Let’s have a conversation.
Because most of us use our smartphones to find products and services, all websites must now be “responsive” designed, i.e., optimized for any-sized device. If your site is not responsive, and you plan a facelift sometime soon, this list of the most common website design mistakes can make the time and thought into a redesign more productive and profitable.
Did you know that Google penalizes non-responsive sites in mobile searches? Since 75% of searches come from Google and over 90% from the Chrome browser in mobile phones, if you want your site found in searches, your website must be responsive-designed.
BEWARE OF THE FREE WEBSITE BUILDER
It’s tempting to use the “drag-and-drop” website builders that claim to give you a full-functioning, responsive website in minutes. The problem is that because they have to be “all things to all people” regardless of your unique message and needs, these time- and money-savers use long lines of code on the back end causing them to load more slowly. If budget is a problem, we’re happy to advise you on the best, inexpensive solutions.
ACCEPTING BAD DESIGN
A website’s design requires balance. We all agree that the purpose of a website is to lead a consumer toward a favorable decision: to opt in to your newsletter, request information, make a purchase, visit your store, decide to select you to solve their problem, or share your site with colleagues and friends. Over-the-top design can be a distraction. Minimalist design can be a turn off.
NOT CAPTURING INFORMATION
Every marketer knows that to generate revenue, you need to have strategies to keep your name in front of a potential customer. Remarketing and retargeting enable your website to be easily found and opened again. These are good strategies, but pale in comparison to actually collecting names and email addresses so you can send personalized emails, newsletter, coupons, or discount notices to all who sign up or register on your site.
POOR QUALITY CONTENT
Did you know that the #1 criteria for your website ranking in search results is high quality content? It’s not uncommon today to see absolutely beautiful websites with huge images and fancy fonts deliver content as though it was afterthought. For the 20+ years that we’ve designed websites, we’ve never wavered from this: content first—then design.
INFORMATION THAT’S HARD TO FIND
When a user wants to find your address, phone number, email address, or store hours, where do they go? Not the Yellow Pages; no, they bring up your website. This information must be extremely easy and intuitive to find. If you sell a product, make it easy to find directions to your store or, if an online store, return policies, FAQs, and shipping details. When designing your layout, list what your audience must know, and make this information the easiest to find.
FORGETTING ABOUT UPDATES
Does your business stay the same year after year? Probably not. Whether you add new products or services, hire new key employees, revamp your marketing message, hold an event, grow or downsize—it’s always changing. Your website needs to reflect that.
HTTP INSTEAD OF HTTPS
Check those four letters in front of your domain name! If yours is HTTP instead of HTTPS, we recommend updating to HTTPS. Why? The simple reason is, Google prefers it. The “S” stand for “Secure”. Not having that “S” makes it easier for an attacker to deliver malicious content to your website and shut it down. To avoid cybersecurity risks in general, be sure to update your site’s framework on a regular basis.
NOT CHECKING YOUR SITE REGULARLY
There’s nothing more irritating than getting a “Page Not Found” error. This happens when something is wrong in the site’s code—usually a broken link. We recommend going through every page on your website at least quarterly; weekly if it has high traffic. If you find an error code, have your developer fix it—sometimes it takes someone who knows how to find and fix bugs and problems.
NOT USING OR EVEN HAVING ANALYTICS
Google Analytics should be installed in the code of every website. It’s free and the most useful tool you have in your online marketing arsenal. It helps you find underperforming pages, know where your visitors are spending their time, and from which page (or on which product) visitors leave your site. Another mistake is having Google Analytics on your website and never going there.