10 tips for improving your new website
So your shiny new website has launched, and you’ve braced yourself for a steady stream of visitors. You’re feeling pretty confident…but is there something you could have done better?
Here are 10 tips to help you improve your new website.
1. Set up your subdomain properly
It used to be very easy to spot a website name – they all started with “www”. In fact, the www subdomain is just the agreed-upon standard subdomain for the main content of a website. Most websites these days will work without typing “www.” in front of their name – but some actually refuse to work if you don’t include www!
Make sure your www subdomain is set up, and directs users to your main content. You don’t want people thinking your site is down when they are simply looking in the wrong place.
2. Use HTTPS
“But my website doesn’t process any data that needs to be secured!” – but that doesn’t matter. Google Chrome is now starting to notify users when a site is “insecure”, that is to say, running on HTTP not HTTPS. Running on a secure server increases confidence in your website, both for the end user and the search engines. If your site has been around for a while and you are only just moving to HTTPS, make sure redirects are in place for HTTP to HTTPS so you don’t miss out on any traffic.
3. Optimize the page load time
4. Make it mobile-friendly
Whether a site is mobile-friendly or not has recently become another ranking factor to consider – in fact, the mantra is now mobile-first. If your website is not easily usable on a mobile device, your search engine rankings will suffer, and your users aren’t likely to stick around.
Most modern frameworks and platforms at the very least offer a responsive template or two, which will automatically adapt your content to different screen sizes. It is important to use this, because you want your hard work to be seen by as many people as possible.
5. Lose the clutter
Flash animations? Auto-playing videos? Animated snowflakes? Unfortunately, it’s not the 90s any more, and that kind of thing just gets in the way now. You need to get your message across quickly and clearly, and have all this extra clutter on your site will just slow the whole process down. Plus, Flash is not supported on many devices these days, and when it is, it can often pose a security risk.
Modern web design is minimalist and clean, so removing these visual distractions will benefit the usefulness of your site.
6. Keep content tight
Don’t go on forever, and don’t have large walls of text. When a paragraph is finished, it is finished, don’t let it roll on for page after page.
Breaking content up with bullet lists and images also helps, as visitors to your site will find it easier to digest your content if it isn’t in one large piece. This is not to say that you should keep your content short – the length is not as important as making it readable.
And once you’ve made your point, leave it, and move on.
7. Include a call to action
It seems odd to say you need a call to action, but how many times have you visited a site and not know what to do next? You want to buy a widget, and you can see all the fantastic information about the widget and why this particular widget is better than the other widgets. It’s a great price, and yet you can’t seem to find a “Buy Now” button – or a shopping cart for that matter.
What’s the point of talking up a storm if nobody can act on it?
8. Include a sign up form for an email list
Get ‘em while they’re hot. If someone has come to your site looking for a product or for information, it’s the prime time to get them to sign up to your list. You can keep them updated with new information, offers, and products. It saves them the effort of researching the information themselves, because you’ll do it for them.
If you haven’t got a sign up form, you could easily be missing out on repeat visitors.
9. Include social sharing buttons
How does the word get out about your website? Search engines, SEO, advertising…and social media! If you have content that is valuable and full of information, the chances are, one of your readers is going to want to share it.
Make it easy for them by including social share buttons for the most popular social networks. At the very least, include Twitter and Facebook – but don’t neglect Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Tumblr (or any others you can think of) as you might be surprised how many people use each platform.
10. Have a custom 404 page
The dreaded 404 page – it only pops up when the content you were looking for could not be found. If a search engine drops you on a 404 page, it’s rather unhelpful. Whatever you wanted isn’t there, so you go back and look somewhere else.
Unless, of course, you’ve got a custom 404 page. You can include links to your most popular content, your homepage, a site-specific search, and if you’re really clever, you might be able to discern the keywords that caused the 404 to show – and then suggest other pages on your own site that might fit the bill!
Don’t leave your visitor wondering what content you might have. Let them know, and make it easy for them to reach.