This week we have a guest blog from Gareth Simpson – Have a read and tell us what you think!
Not everyone loves your website… and for good reason. One of the fundamental tenets of web design is not to annoy your users, and yet there are still many websites making the same basic mistakes. Designing and building a website is pretty exciting; it’s easy to get carried away with quirks and features that aren’t really necessary. But the truth is that with poor user experience comes high bounce rates, low conversion rates, and a flagging position in search results. Previously on Sharpmonkeys we’ve covered How to Reduce Basket Abandonment Rates: now let’s take a look at some of the most common ways that your website as a whole could be turning users off.
Slooooooooow page load times
Don’t make your visitors wait. Every second that a user waits for your website to load is a second in which you could lose them. Remember: the average user has no patience whatsoever. Most people will wait around 6-10 seconds before bailing.
Follow these tips to ensure your pages load quickly and smoothly:
- Invest in decent web hosting – the best you can afford
- Compress your images – they should be set at a screen resolution of 72 DPI
- Check it’s not a network problem – invest in a proxy server or VPN if need be
- Reduce the number of linked elements such as Twitter feeds, etc.
- Update your apps/plugins and remove those you don’t use
Y0uR c0nt3nT 1s hArd 2 r3aD
Remember that good web design is not just about bright colours and fancy graphics. Your choice of typeface, as well as the legibility of your text against the background, will affect how easily people can read and make sense of your content. Naturally, if users can’t read it, then it’s not doing you any favours.
Of course there are no set rules about which typefaces to use (except that you should never, ever use Comic Sans), but if you’re unsure, it’s always safest to opt for a clean, minimal sans serif font – here are some examples. Ensure that there is a high contrast between text and background: either light against dark, or dark against light.
In terms of size, you’re better off going slightly too large than slightly too small, especially for mobile visitors. Around 24 pt is ideal for a headline, whereas body copy can be around 14 pt. Keep your leading slightly higher than the size of your type – so around 16 pt for body copy.
Ads! So many ads! Get your ads here today!
If you’re running a website, then chances are you’re on the lookout for some kind of financial gain, whether that’s through selling products, building your subscriber list, affiliate marketing or on-page advertisements. And here’s the thing: all of these options are totally fine. But you need to keep it within sensible limits.
Websites plastered with adverts look immediately spammy. It becomes obvious that you’re out for all you can get. Even worse is when those ads block usability, such as with pop-ups. If you accept any and every monetisation opportunity that comes your way, be mindful that it may result in poor UX, annoyed users, and cluttered design. Better to use them conservatively and to only place ads that you think have some relevance to your audience.
Did you know that 34% of online retail purchases now happen on mobile devices? Or that more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan (Source)? The number of smartphone users is rising rapidly, and more than ever, people are using their devices not only to browse the web, but to make purchases as well.
This is particularly important if you’re running an ecommerce business. Those attempting to build their own website should take heed – many web designers actually start with a mobile design and adapt for desktop now, rather than the other way round. An easy way around it is to use a pre-existing template that’s optimised for mobile, such as those offered by Shopify and WordPress. If you’re building your own custom design, make sure your developer has experience creating mobile websites, or you could risk losing customers down the line.
You’ve just landed on a website for the first time. You wander over to the navigation in search of something particular – a gadget, a t-shirt, a new watch – whatever floats your boat. To your dismay, you are hit with a long and impenetrable dropdown menu with innumerable sub-menus, each one taking you to a different far-off corner of the site. It’s confusing and frustrating. You just came here for a t-shirt. Where are the t-shirts? I’M LEAVING.
Most websites are not this bad, but some will opt for something quirky, rather than something obvious. Your navigation is not the place to try and think outside the box – keep it simple and straightforward all the way. There are certain conventions when it comes to web design that it is best to follow, in order to create an intuitive experience for your users. This is one of them. Here are 3 ways to ensure intuitive and user-friendly navigation for your ecommerce store based on preconceived knowledge, uniform navigation, and breadcrumbs.
Address any of these outstanding issues on your website or blog, and you should hopefully start to see some positive changes in its performance and page views. Note that this list is by no means exhaustive – there are many other factors that can influence your website’s bounce and conversion rates. Got a tip you’d like to share? Add it to the comments below.
Gareth has worked as an SEO for almost a decade now, going from agency SEO to freelancer, and now, agency owner. He is passionate about great content, influencer marketing, and the art of outreach.