As we approach 2012 many of you will be looking to get a new website to go into the New Year with a virtual bang. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you all the benefits a website has to offer as a place to showcase your products or services. A new website is no doubt a good move, but what if it can’t be found?
Your customers need to be able to find your site when they are searching for your products or services, which is where SEO comes in. SEO stands for search engine optimisation and it’s the behind the scenes stuff that gets your website noticed in Google. Without it, your website is like a shop with no signs – not good!
There will be some of you that already have SEO covered and your old website has brilliant Google rankings. Your customers are finding you, but when they get to your site they don’t like what they see. This is something we internet types refer to as ‘bounce rate’ – if your bounce rate is too high it means that too many customers are bouncing straight off your site using their metaphorical internet space-hopper. One way to make sure your customers stick around is to upgrade your website to something more modern, slick and shiny – a website to be proud of.
Whatever category you fall into, you need to be aware of the ways that SEO and web design can work together for you. A good internet solutions company (like eSterling of course) can help you with the complete package, making sure your website attracts visitors and keeps them interested.
Web design and SEO go hand in hand like fish and chips or gin and tonic… I just wish the web designers would learn this and make the SEO team a cup of tea once in a while!
In our quest for constructive feedback from our clients, we often come across requests to scale a website down so that the whole page fits within the screen size. When a client asks for their site to appear ‘above the fold’, we always explain that this isn’t such a great idea and I’ll explain why…
New viewing mediums
With the web now extremely prominent on mobile phones and tablets and even HDTVs, the way the site can be viewed will be different on each platform. Users will also have a variety of different resolutions on their monitor and each browsers visible screen size will be different depending on the size of the toolbars. This means there isn’t a specific ‘above the fold’ point where all of the content must be.
Negative impact upon the design
If you scale down a website by around 300 pixels then the design of the site will significantly suffer. The original design will no doubt include plenty of white space around the design so the user can ‘breathe’ when looking through the site and everything is clear and easy to manoeuvre around. However, once that is removed and many of the elements are bunched up, the site will be a lot more difficult to scan and will probably result in the user either not noticing key information or not bothering to explore the site further.
Users are willing to scroll
Research has suggested that although the user will naturally spend more time looking at the top of your website, they are more than happy to scroll down to view more, especially if the site is designed to be scannable. In research carried out by ClickTale.com it found that 76% of users scrolled and that a good portion of them scrolled all the way to the bottom.
Once you’ve decided to have a new website, the fun really begins!
The key to success for any website development project is a strong foundation. This comes from having a clear and precise understanding between the client and development team from the very beginning. For this reason, we meet with all of our clients to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
The procedure usually goes something like this:
- An initial meeting is arranged with our Directors to discuss requirements. At this stage basic elements of design and functionality of your website are discussed, as well as budget and timescale.
- The next step is to meet with the Project Manager and the development team to lay out an exact specification of what you need for your new website to be as effective as possible for your business.
– This part is where you can tell us your ideas, from aesthetic preferences through to functionality. During this meeting we take note of any other websites that you like (and what you don’t like) and also get a feel for what message you are trying to put across to your customer.
– It is also agreed between both parties as to what exactly is feasible within the constraints of time, budget and scope. An exact price is calculated to suit your budget are we also give you an expectation of what end product you will receive.
We find that these early meetings are important for the success of the project. As Project Manager, I find that I’m able to plan your website build more effectively after discussing your needs in detail.
Every project can be faced with hiccups along the way, but if the project has been built on this strong foundation then the difficulty can be overcome – leaving you happy with your new website.