Business owners, managers and website administrators tend to underestimate the importance of the web and believe that simply publishing a pretty website on the internet will suffice. This is a mistake. For a website to add value by saving or making you money, the look and feel is the last thing that needs consideration.
Granted, the website must be appealing and deliver the correct brand message, but what’s the point of having a great-looking website if nobody visits or uses it? Surely accessibility and usability should be as important as the design?
Take a Moment to Evaluate your Website
In South Africa, the internet is continuing to grow fast. As the Yellow Pages gets thinner and thinner, we are using the web more and more to find and compare products and services.
To evaluate your website’s performance on the web, assess these key areas:
- Code quality
Start off by making a list of the keyword phrases that you think consumers would use to find your products and services – keyword phrases such as “website company port elizabeth”. Note: don’t use your company name! We want to see if your website will attract new customers and assess if people can find your website by entering the products and services that you offer.
Visit Google and enter the keyword phrases.
How Did You Feature?
Is your website listed on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs)? How many of your competitors outrank you?
The reality is - if you do not feature on those first couple of pages, the likelihood of your website generating leads is very slim.
So How Do You Get Noticed on the Web?
The Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) of your website takes more effort and budget than the website design and development. It’s an ongoing process of evaluating and tweaking and involves the optimisation of the website’s structure and content; and the optimal utilisation of the utilities and tools that the search engines provide.
The many browser options available today and the popularity of smart phones and tablets makes the usability of your website a very real concern.
Our customers’ analytics tell us that 25% of website traffic is on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. That being said, it is critical that your website not only renders properly on these devices but navigates correctly too. An old favourite Flash is no longer supported. Mouse-over and many other effects need special attention when catering for these uses.
Test your website in Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera and evaluate whether it renders correctly, making sure that all of the website's components behave properly.
W3C standards relate to the correct layout of web pages for readability as well making sure that the coded elements are marked up and labeled correctly. Websites that conform to W3C standards are less error prone. They’re also more useable and search engine friendly.
Evaluate your website's code quality by visiting http://validator.w3.org/
It is imperative that you scrutinise your website’s analytics regularly to assess your website’s successes and shortcomings. The Analytics and Webmaster Tools will highlight areas like bounce rates, the popularity of products, pages and files, traffic sources, referrals, visitor habits and visitor flow through the site. These prove to be very insightful as to what’s going on on your website.
Good webpage layout and website design takes into account the users' browser, user interface, the industries most preferred and best practices. Websites that are intuitive, informative, accessible, usable and developed properly are stickier* and perform better on the search engines. How does your website hold up?
*Sticky websites entice visitors to browse through them.