Beautifully designed websites are quickly becoming the norm throughout the online world. To some, this is a luxury but more and more it is becoming a necessity for survival. Google rankings is even including this component in their ranking criteria; on par with site architecture and high-quality content.
There are several elements to pay attention to and if you have a minute to scroll down you’ll find that your time shall be well spent. Let’s look closely and the essentials of a beautifully designed site!
Important Content Above The Fold
People spend 80% of their time above the fold according to research and so it stands to reason that your important information must lie within this space. Keeping the most relevant topics within the top 768 pixels will allow you to get your point across succinctly and increase the likelihood that browsers will remain on your page.
A good user experience is what you’re after and any tool that you implement must support this ultimate goal. Sliders are another unique design element which is being utilized more and more often throughout sites.
As with anything there are pros and cons to making them a staple throughout your pages. You want to pay attention to placement when you’re using sliders. Position is the most important part of the equation and your sliders need to be extremely obvious to users. Here it is vital to keep confusion to a minimum and browsers must know immediately what to do with the sliders in order to navigate through your website/blog.
Keep Page Links Under 100
The experience of a visitor to your site is fundamental to your overall success. Links can be helpful tools to direct traffic and establish connections but at some point they detract from the actual message.
The question is how many links is appropriate? Google recommends that you keep the number to under 100 but this is primarily because they will only index up to 100 kilobytes per page. Matt Cutts managed to successfully publish a page that held close to 200 links on it. If the practice is justified and legitimate than large quantities of links can work.
You may find if you exceed the 100 mark, Google may begin to crawl through your site but this will only affect how much you pass on PageRank due to the volume.
Your main focus needs to be on the user experience itself. SEO measures and PageRank are important but ultimately your success or failure lies in the hands of your visitors!
Limited Ad Space
Ads can detract from the overall appeal of your site. Sometimes you just can’t get away from using them so be very selective in their placement. Choose only your top two or three high performing ads and be careful to keep their size to a minimum. Too many ads will slow down your load times and impact the quantity of traffic to your site. Designing an effective blog will create amazing SEO if you keep this tip in mind throughout the process.
Website Speed Is Huge
Search results that appear quickly satisfy users of all ages. Site speed is a factor you may wish to monitor on a consistent basis. Problems with speed can arise and you’ll want to deal with them immediately to eliminate any future headaches.
If you want to determine your rating in regards to your speed quotient, you can look to Google’s Page Speed Tool for assistance.
You may also wish to consider utilizing Site Performance page inside Webmaster Tools. Here you can discover what type of response your website garnishes throughout the world. This tool can also highlight current monthly trends and update you on recommendations to improve site speed.
According to Google, the number of searches will be reduced by over half a percent, simply by slowing down search results by 400 milliseconds. This little factoid points to the conclusion that speed is a factor that search engines and site owners alike must take into account. Spend the time and harness the power of speed. You won’t regret it!
Small Internal Images
Images are increasingly becoming necessary components of web content. The power they hold to draw audiences in cannot be understated. You may want to check out my article Forget Blogging as Usual to get the full picture.
However, graphics can affect loading times so it’s vital that you choose the size of your image carefully. A tactic to circumvent this problem lies in saving images as .jpg and text headers as gifs. Tools exist which can aid you to convert images into more user friendly jpg.
To enhance the user experience, you may want to consider using a Content Delivery Network such as Akamai or Level (3). to spread your content over multiple servers. Downloading images, stylesheets and the like can account for 80 to 90 percent of the user experience. Stress on a single server will impact the loading speed of your site. Therefore, it’s a good idea to look at CDN as a viable solution to increase sandwich and reduce site latency.
To make a lasting impression you’ll need to make this process as seamless as possible. Your users will thank you!
Validate Website Through Crawl
Crawling through your websites is really a means for you to determine the validity of your content. Regularly reviewing your design can assist you to pinpoint exactly where you need to make adjustments.
This is a testing process that involves taking a good hard look at all the components of your website and their overall effectiveness. However, there is no need to do this on your own. If you are having any difficulty throughout this process you might want to check out these tools to give you some extra assistance: Crawl Tools by SEOmoz or W3C validation tools
Here is a checklist of items that you need to pay attention to:
- HTML/ XHTML
- Accessibility (Section 508 and WAI Standards)
- Dead links
- Multiple browsers
- Multiple devices
Seek and eradicate problems once they have been identified. Family and friends can give you a user’s perspective once you have completed the testing and fixing phase of your crawl.
Evergreen content simply put is a writing style. You must harness the power of language in order to add relevancy to your content and authority to your website. This is a style of writing that when employed correctly can help content to remain factually correct and compelling. Take in to account that date specific facts tend to make your writing time specific so if at all possible omit these from your content. Writing for future validity may seem difficult at first but if you do it right the first time than the need to revitalize will not be a concern.
Readers are looking for current information and thus it is your job to consistently update your sources and add new and relevant statistics as well as links to support your work. Regular audits can serve to keep a consistent stream of visitors flowing to your site for valid information.
The above mentioned tactics will assist you in creating a well-designed website. However, the most important factor comes down to the ease of navigation The truth is that your website must be systematically planned and constructed to accommodate the needs of the user. Like a sailboat floating down a narrow channel, you must pay attention to the course you map out in order to guide users through to their final destination.
Anticipating the needs of your user will avert danger and keep visitors aboard your site. Perhaps this will take the form of a drop down menu indicating the resources and pages available. To this end you may want to limit the number of options available through your drop down menu. Too many choices can lead to confusion and overwhelming.
Important staples of an effective Menu:
- Search Box
- About the Page
- Contact Us
Browsers have learned to expect the existence of these components on a website and they will use these headings to guide their searches. To keep the experience seamless, you may wish to make your blog logo clickable and have it lead back to your home page. This will ensure that even new visitors can easily navigate through your site.
Through the planning stage of navigation, it’s advisable to imagine yourself as if you were seeing your website for the first time. There are some questions you might think to ask yourself. If you had a specific topic in mind could you retrieve it easily through the search box? Will search specific results also bring up associated content? Would users be able to navigate through date specific topics to discover what they’re looking for? These are only a few questions you may think to answer during this process.
What it all boils down to is the ease of navigation and in this case the simpler the better!
Designing your blog should be a fun and exciting experience. The above recommendations can truly assist you to create masterpiece while at the same time increasing your search rankings.
You will run into the odd obstacle here and there. However, if you run A/B tests consistently and measure and test your findings you’ll discover that the necessary adjustments will be easy to implement.
The process of design is an amazing and powerful experience when you really put in the effort. The results will speak for themselves!
If you, yourself, have uncovered new and exciting design elements please don’t hesitate to share in the comments box below