There are a seemingly endless list of jobs to do when planning and designing a website, making sure it is appealing to site visitors, whilst keeping it equally appealing to the search engines. Whilst this article is not specifically about search engine optimisation as such, there are a few things to remember while you are concentrating on the design. This list will give you a few things to consider from both perspectives.
1. Pleasing to the Eye
As a general rule of thumb, keep the design simple, you want the visitor to like the site when they click through to it. There are many websites out there which have been thrown together in days gone by and not updated since, personally, if I find one of those, I tend to click away again. That’s not to say it doesn’t have any worthwhile content, but first appearances really do make a difference. So although you have just found a great animated image to dance around the screen, a trail of ants to follow the cursor and can use all sorts of colours and sizes of fonts, keep it to a minimum, an absolute minimum.
2. Simple Navigation
Hand in hand with a nice website design, comes a simple navigation, keep it clear and concise, a good navigation in the header or footer is a good start, but also remember to link relevant text on the pages to appropriate content within your website design (see the example in the term website design). This has an added benefit for SEO as you control the anchor text linking to the content pages.
3. Relevant Content
Remember that a potential customer has visited your site because they want something, it may be that they are just researching for now, perhaps they want to speak to someone, or are planning to buy there and then. If your content is relevant, well written and convinces them that you are an authority on the subject, the chances of them progressing to the next stage are dramatically increased.
4. About Us Pages
An essential page on any website. Although most people will never read it some will, and if they do, this could make or break their decision to contact you. Some people like to know a bit more about the company and/or people behind a company, so provide this information for them.
5. Contact Pages
Make it easy for people to contact you. There simply must be a link to your contact page from every other page on your website, if people wish to speak to you or send an enquiry, make it easy for them to do it. If possible show your contact numbers and address as this also builds credibility, it can also help with local search results if you have your address on each page.
If your website is large, or if you plan it to be in the future, it’s well worth having a sitemap available to visitors, if this is on the footer of each page it can also help your websites interlinking, which can help search engine optimisation. However, you should also have an xml sitemap file installed on your server, this is for SEO purposes as you can submit this to Google, so they know exactly where to find it and can spider your website accordingly.
7. Different Browsers
Remember that just because your favorite browser is Firefox, the next persons may not be, so always install multiple browsers and make sure your website looks good in all of them. Alternatively there are various tools you can download or access online to do this for you.
8. Optimise your Images
All your web images should be 72dpi, this is much lower than print standard, but will speed up your website, the typical formats used are jpg, gif and png, or if you use Photoshop make sure you “save images for web”. Also remember to use appropriate tags for images, again, this will help in your seo.
9. Using CSS Tableless Design
The use of Cascading Style Sheets will make updating the website much faster, but also help with your SEO. please see this separate post about using CSS not tables
Please remember, these website design tips are by no means exhaustive, if you need help with your website design and optimisation please contact us.