Most websites are not fully optimized for an amazing and safe experience for its users.
Many websites are:
- Not secure or have limited security
- Missing or not using the tools to improve load time
- Not designed for your audience
- Difficult to navigate
- Lacking useful and current content
Despite all the improvements in modern web design, there are still websites that are not secure, slow, designed poorly, hard to navigate and void of added value content. When you create a website, you need to look at all these areas and address them at the very beginning. It is very important to do all that you can to make your website stand out from everyone else. This is no easy task, but in order to make your website better than most, it usually boils down to following a few basic principles of web design.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can make your website on a free hosting service with a free design and expect to make money. Also, don’t be lulled by marketers that creating a website with a site builder is so easy a monkey can do it. As you may have guessed it, building an amazing website takes money and time.
What All Website Owners Should Have
In this post we cover five points that are essential with any website.
- Loading time
- Content quality
No website should be weak in any of those five points, but countless websites violate one or more of these consistently. It may be due to the lack of resources such as money or time. In many cases, people just don’t know what are the best practices to maintain a website.
People are misled everyday on how to start a website. Look at all the bad propaganda that claims you can create an awesome website in a matter of minutes. Don’t fall into that trap. Remember the companies that provide these easy to use site builders don’t have your interest in mind. Websites like Weebly.com, SiteBuilder.com and Wix.com want you to sign up for free so they can lock you in and later up-sell you into their premium services that cost a lot more than if you setup the same services on your favorite hosting company. Site builder websites know their free versions are crap and they hope you will buy from or subscribe to them once you realize you don’t get much for free. You don’t need them. That is why DevZum is here to help.
Make your website the best by following these five tips:
Make Your Website Secure
The first and foremost important element of a website is making sure it is secure. Do you want to end up losing customers or users of your website like Yahoo did when its data was breached? Of course not. Regardless what you provide on your website, your audience needs to know their information is secure. And you need peace of mind that you are not going to fall victim to hackers. So the best cure is prevention.
- Sign up for a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate: Ever wondered where the “Secure” box with green font comes from? This allows you to use the https protocol instead of http. SSL encrypts data transferred between your browser and the website. This is a necessity if you accept payments for products or services through your website, but it also tells people that they can trust your website. You want to make your website stand out and not scare people immediately away. First impressions are everything. If not for the people, do it for Google because it is a factor in index ranking.
- Use a CMS (content management system): Have you heard of WordPress? If not, you will because it is the most commonly used CMS. Part of the reason it is common is because it is backed by a large community of active web developers and users that are constantly improving its functionality and security. Hackers are constantly roaming the internet looking to exploit unsecured websites. To protect yourself, it is important to install all the latest updates for your CMS.
- Install plugins that provide added security: We all have used security software on our computers to scan for viruses. It is no different for your website. Protect your website in the same manner by installing plugins, add-ons to a CMS, which can scan for and protect against known threats. You can check out our article on WordPress plugins that secure your website here.
Make Your Website Load Fast
If you are looking for something on the internet, you want it as fast as possible. On KissMetrics.com, it states that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. Go to Pingdom.com and test your website out now. Did you do well? If you didn’t, then you probably have a lot of work to do. Here are a few things you should do:
- Cache your website: The simplest way to do this with a CMS is install a cache plugin such as W3 Total Cache or LiteSpeed Cache. The plugins help save static versions of your website into cache.
- Use a CDN (content delivery network): Sign up for a CDN such as Cloudflare.
- Reduce HTTP requests: There are several things that need to load on your website and minimizing or removing them can help your load speed. A few items to consider are removing unused plugins and code, limit the number of social media buttons, minify and combine css, js, and html files and remove images.
- Optimize images: You can reduce the size or change the format of images. There are plugins such as WP Smush that can help you reduce the file size of the image.
- Avoid too many redirects: Each redirect increases load time and too many decreases your Google indexed rank.
These are only a few elements of improving load speed. You can read more about it here.
Make Your Website Design User-Friendly
One of the most important factors for making your website stand out is addressing different members of your audience. It is up to you to figure out who your audience is and how they may use your website, but you should consider these two factors:
- Mobile and tablet device users: More and more people are browsing the web on their smartphone. This is why many websites are designed from the beginning to work on a desktop, tablet and mobile devices. There are two approaches, responsive website design or create separate mobile and tablet versions of your website. Either approach has its pros and cons.
- Readability: Make your website as easy as possible for people to scan and find the information they are looking for. Not all users will read your whole article. Maybe they are looking for a specific answer and could care less about the other 80% you published. This is where color, font size, font styling, spacing, bullet points and lists help users to scan for the details they need.
Make Your Website Easy to Navigate
Website navigation is the easiest to overlook. Many times navigation design is an after thought. If navigation is neglected during web development, you will probably spend a lot of time and money modifying it later in order to meet the needs of your audience.
Navigation contributes a lot to the user experience. If your audience finds it hard to find common pages such as “About Us” and “Contact” on your website, they may think the website is a work in progress. New visitors to your website may want to size you up and find out if your website will suite their future needs. A good navigation allows a visitor to quickly understand what you have to offer.
Create Great Unique Content
Creating unique content is the hardest, time consuming and most expensive part of creating and maintaining a website. To some it may come easy to write thousands of words a day. As they say in business Cash is King! In the internet world, Content is King! You can pay people to generate content for you, but remember you will most likely get what you pay for.
Keep in mind that your audience visits your site because of your content or because of what you offer. People do not visit because of the ads on your website. Popups that are designed to entice users to signup for a newsletter by submitting their email should be used with caution. I would strongly avoid forcing users to submit their email in order to view your content. If users are annoyed enough by ads and popups, they will promptly leave your website and find one that does not annoy them. In many cases people can find the same content you are sharing on a different website, so don’t help them choose an alternative.
“The satisfaction of your audience is what matters most. If your audience is happy with your website, you probably will be able to monetize it.”
While ads and popups are sometimes annoying, it does not mean you cannot use them. People are aware that publishers make a living through advertising. People do click on ads knowing before hand that it was an ad. Maybe they will click on your ad because they want to help you out. It is perfectly acceptable to blend the background, color, size and font of an ad into a website, but don’t use deceptive tactics to get people to click on an ad.
While there are many elements involved in making your website stand out, these are the major ones you cannot afford to miss. Consider these as your starting point, but do not stop there.
Continue to research what other aspects of your website are important to optimize. You don’t have to have it all figured out in the beginning to start a website. Even experts are learning new ways to improve. A good place to continue learning and be inspired is here on DevZum.