Now that we’ve looked at off- and on-page SEO techniques, let’s move on to issues surrounding website design and usability. The goal is to have traffic delivered by SEO to stay at your website instead of bouncing away. Average bounce rates range from 30 to 60 percent, depending on the industry. In other words, many visitors leave your website without navigating to another page. Bouncers seldom return – ouch! So let’s consider some strategies to decrease your bounce rate and improve the user experience.
First impressions count, so manage them! That means taking steps to make the site credible, trustworthy, professional and welcoming. Visitors should immediately feel that your company is stable and offers what they are looking for. Don’t underestimate the importance of design to make a good first impression – it trumps items such as privacy policies or certifications. Use colors properly to emphasize select elements, and avoid a chaotic clash of colors that distracts viewers. Also avoid unnecessary bells and whistles – gadgets, animations and media that do not support content and information. Flash and animation can grab attention, but can also be distracting and bothersome, so use sparingly.
When designing the page, start with a grid and layout elements in a clear and organized way. Use white space generously to avoid clutter. Pay attention to typography, making sure your content is legible and easy to scan. Select font families and colors that encourage visitors to read through your material. Include section headers, short paragraphs and bullet lists to facilitate viewing.
An important consideration for effective website design is maintaining consistency among elements from page to page. These elements include layout, placement, size and color. Each page should feature a consistent navigation scheme that’s easy to comprehend. The most important success factor for a website is the ability to find information easily. So keep the navigation structure simple, and include navigation in your page footers. Consider using breadcrumbs on every page to make visitors aware of their navigation trail. Include a search box, intrasite links, and no more than three levels of navigation.
Use images wisely – they should add impact, which is best done with original images rather than stock photos. Use images that pack a wallop and have some subconscious message. Finally, ensure content and images can be viewed with any of the major browsers and popular devices. This includes mobile phones and tablets.
Remember: you cannot rely on design alone to keep visitors glued to your website – that requires great content. We’ll tackle website content in our next post.