The Internet is a constantly evolving place. It’s exciting, exhausting and empowering all at once. For a business or company, the definition of good web design changes rapidly. What’s good today, is garbage tomorrow. In many ways, the web design industry is a lot like the fashion industry; there are design trends that keep you fresh. It’s the quintessential “red queen race” described by Lewis Carroll in that, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” Indeed, if you want to get anywhere, you have to run at least twice as fast. So in the web design world, how do you do that? Well, the best business website designs aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, they are functional art. The best web design today isn’t as much about the overall design as it is about housing the right functionality.
Go Beyond the Design—5 Ways to Make Your Website Count
1) Get Social
It’s not about being on the Internet anymore, it’s about being found on the Internet! The way people share information is rapidly evolving. At the very least, hit up the major players—Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you can, use more than the bare minimum—Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more are all great ways to spread content from your website. And your website should have noticeable calls to action when it comes to sharing content. Visitors should be able to follow or fan your main social media accounts from any page on your website. That’s what sidebars and footers are for, use them! In addition, give your audience a way to share the specific pages they like on your web site, or at the very least a way to comment on the pages. We have two different commenting systems that a user can choose from, including Facebook. The last bit of social advice we can give is to shape how shared content is displayed by others from your website. We wrote an article on sharing content from your site on Facebook; check it out.
2) Update Your Content Regularly
This isn’t about the way you dress your website. After you’ve established a design, you need sculpt your body. This is the workout for your website. Exercise your presence. Maintain a schedule for pushing new content to your Internet wayfarers. New content will keep you relevant, and give people a reason for a return visit. It also helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Today, the web demands interaction and hot-off-the-press information. Don’t build another web site that needs to last more than 3 months without having a CMS, or Content Management System, in place. This site runs on WordPress, a FREE backend system that allows us to blog and update every portion of this website. This free architectural framework for web sites leaves little excuse for even small businesses not to have their own CMS. It may double the development costs for a web design studio to implement into a custom site, but the price was once much higher, and for far less customization ability.
3) Practice Good SEO
Good SEO practices will help your website and its content rank higher in Google, Bing and other search engines. Once again, there are few excuses for ignoring this. All the new content you are regularly updating should be part of a good SEO campaign. Proper SEO starts with researching keywords. There are plenty of solutions out there for finding the best keywords—Wordtracker, Scribd, etc. Use the best keywords in the most important places: your web page’s title tags and web address. “Best Business Website Designs” is in the web address for this page for a reason. Google shows priority to the content in your title tag and web address. It also looks at things in header tags too. The first word in your title tag is the most important to Google. While you are on a roll, add alt text to all your images too. Search engines examine this data as well. Finally, while a meta description for your page doesn’t really help too much in search ranking, it does show up in search engine results pages, so properly advertise what web searchers will see when your web page is returned from a search query. If you are using WordPress for a CMS, use a plugin to help with your SEO efforts. Huebris employs the All-in-One SEO plugin for this site.
4) Build for Mobile
Apple ousted Flash for the mobile market. Once upon a time, Android phones used “mobile Flash,” but Adobe is killing off that program. This doesn’t mean you should stop building Flash websites; if there is need for it, use it. However if you do build a website that utilizes Flash, know that it will come at an SEO and customization cost. And above all, if you create a Flash site, create a mobile-friendly version of your website too. If not, create an app, and redirect mobile visitors to your site to download the app. Most websites don’t need an app, and a custom mobile site will usually work on both Android and iOS devices—something an app won’t do. Don’t forget iPads and other tablets that are coming to prominence. Also, there are many WordPress plugins that serve up your website content in a mobile-friendly manner.
5) Promote your Website on Other Sites
The practice of promoting your website on other sites will build what are known as “backlinks.” Backlinks are important, because they direct new visitors to your site, and they factor into what Google calls Page Rank. Page Rank is a way to show how relevant your site is when compared to others. Google’s algorithm surmises that links to your site are like votes for your site. The more people who link to you, the more important you must be. There are tons of ways to build backlinks to your site. You can build them by leaving links to your site in comments you make on other people’s blogs. If you do this, be sure that the link tag doesn’t say “no-follow” in it. That will make the backlink null and void to Google and it will have zero effectiveness. Other good ways to build links are to do guest articles on other people’s blogs. You can also join local organizations which have an online presence and who link to its members websites. Another option is to submit entries to online business directories. Backlink building is somewhat related to SEO, and is just as important.
We could go continue onward with all the things that make for good web design in our present age—things like including analytics and conversion systems—but we’ll adjourn here. Hopefully you’ll keep these ideas in mind the next time you build or redesign your website. As always, if you have any questions, please contact us today.