People invest a lot of money into SEO in order to have their site rank well and work smoothly, but there are some major factors that can hinder the success of SEO which can sometimes be overlooked by site owners. One such factor is poor design. Luckily most major sites have adapted with the times and brought their design forward to accommodate modern styles; but as with any area of constant innovation, bad design is still prevalent in a lot of places.
It’s understandable that trends are difficult to keep up with, especially in the world of design, but for something to look good it doesn’t necessarily need to be hip and cutting-edge, it just needs to be clear and easy to understand. Take the classic little black dress for example; its simplistic in nature, clearly defined and uncomplicated, yet the design is timeless. I’m not saying all websites should be dumbed down for the sake of simplicity, but no-one has ever complained about a site being clear and easy to navigate.
A good design isn’t just about making a website look nice, it’s about providing the visitors with a positive experience. Search engines are increasingly updating their algorithms to develop smarter and more accurate results, and so they are now focusing on providing users with the sites that can best answer their queries and offer the best experience when browsing.
If your website contains information that answers the user’s query, but it’s difficult to navigate due to poor design, then it won’t rank as well as another well-rounded, better designed website. If users visit your site but quickly exit out, it’ll quickly gain a high bounce rate. If this continues for long periods of time, search engines will notice that people are spending very little time on your site after they click through, and will assume that users are sending reacting negatively due to poor on-site experience. This can inevitably result in your site’s position in the rankings being reduced.
The quality of the content on your site isn’t the only aspect that will help you move up the rankings. You could create the greatest piece of content of all time, but if it’s not displayed properly on a site that people can navigate hassle-free, no one will take the time to see it. That’s not to say high-quality content doesn’t help though. If the content is engaging, knowledgeable and shareable then users are much more likely to enjoy it. Both the content and a site’s design are important features when driving conversions. People are much more likely to trust a professional looking site than they are one that looks like it was put together hastily by someone with a very loose-grip on the knowledge of web design.
Successful websites try to keep their users on-site for as long as possible, and this is accomplished through interesting content and user-friendly navigation. Although you may feel your website is easy to navigate, be sure to test it out with others and ask what they think. Successful website navigation is a largely trial and error based process.
If your site contains a blog, don’t hide it somewhere deep within your site so far that your users have to go delving into your contact details to find it, give it its own predominant space. Even better, integrate it on your landing page or homepage. Keep your users connected and up to date with what’s going on with your brand, integrate your Twitter feed into your news section and offer users exclusive content on your site that they can’t access via social media, this way they’ll be much more inclined to stick around for longer.
Keep your call to action clear and easily accessible, and ensure the header on your site instantly tells users what your page is about. This is actually as much for Google’s use as it is the human user’s, as the search engine has made it clear before that they regularly use the information collected at the top of a page to determine what the site is about. It’s important to ensure that people don’t just see the top of your page though, don’t sacrifice your site’s loading time for poor design. There are plenty of great looking designs that don’t take eternity to load. This is especially applicable as more and more users browse via mobiles on the go, and don’t have the time it takes to wait for ultra-glossy, intricately designed websites to load.
It’s worth mentioning that seeing as more users are browsing using different platforms, no matter how good your site looks on a desktop; if it doesn’t incorporate responsive design for other devices it will lose out on traffic dramatically.