In the beginning, it was harsh, but it the neat thing was that it worked. All these hyperlinks to other sites opened what seemed to be an endless amount of information and opinions. I remember looking forward to having to do reports in middle school so that I could get a library pass and “surf” the web for resources and documents for my paper.
I remember many of the sites being pretty much all text at that point, and who can forget that sound of the 28k modem? Then the 56k modem released and it was labeled “High-Speed” instantly. haha. I can’t help but laugh a little looking back at it now with the ability to stream data LTE at speeds of 30MB+ per second.
Cutting to the chase, I got into the web development more serious once I graduated college and have been in one way or another developing websites since 2002. More currently I have pushed a more serious business model around WordPress web development solutions for small businesses. There are standards throughout the web, some written and some not, that really help out the user and others that really make the user’s experience a bad one. These are just five things off the top of my head that I learned over the years. Ready go!
1. Logo linked to your landing page vs. Having “Home” listed in your menu
One of the things that bugs me the most when I am on someone’s website is when I am a few clicks or pages deep and I want to get back to the home page. Even though I could just go to the address bar, select everything after the main URL and hit enter, I try to think of these things in practical terms. How many people that use the web actually know where the address bar is? Keep it simple and make sure that your logo is linked to your home page. (Keep reading for my thoughts about having “Home” listed in your menu)
OK, I have had many talks about this and I do believe that this small little addition to the menu does not impact the user’s experience in a negative way – but is more of a “Is there room in the menu for it?” or “Let’s clean up and keep it simple.” decision. For those that do not know that most company logos on sites link to their home page, this link acts as a safety to visually show the user a link to home. Personally, I think that it’s redundant to have this link in your main menu, but also think it varies on the majority demographic of people that your site it getting.
2. Phone number listed on your home page somewhere.
This always was a standard I followed back in the day at my first web design job out of college, but it always was before HTML5 and CSS really took a giant leap over flash. For current websites, business have to think about this one fact, over 43% of people that use the internet daily access it from a mobile device. By having fully-responsive website it lets your visitors find your number quick, it also gives them a one-click away contact point on their phones. (Are your phone numbers linked to dial your number? Blog post coming soon on that.)
3. Take that Visitor Counter OFF!
Do you really think that your visitors really care about how much traffic you are getting? Besides, if you are only counting page views, you really are missing the analytic boat. Sign up for a free Google Analytics account and say hello to useful analytics that will offer much better insight from search engine terms, user click patterns all the way down to the color profile of the displays they are using.
4. Flash WAS cool, not anymore.
I will admit, I loved Flash. I really did, but I think that it is safe to say that Flash has become old for the web. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for it, but business are much better off investing in a site that is fully responsive HTML5 with added SEO. My first site was all flash, my second site still had a flash landing page (don’t forget those fancy pre-loaders that we all spend time making) that at then end of the animation did one of those gotoandstop(“/index2.html”) actions.
5. Spending the extra time on Search Engine Optimization DOES pay off.
Creating and submitting your website’s site map can make a huge difference with how search engines rank and search your site. It is free to do, takes only a few minutes. Google’s Webmaster Tools is great tool to make sure that your site is doing the best it can for you. For all my WordPress clients I use WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. Take control of your page titles, page descriptions and focused keywords with this simple to use and VERY effective plugin.
When it comes down to it, you want your visitors to have the best experience on your site as possible. Providing them with basic information such as contact numbers, hours of operation and listing your services right on your landing page will answer a lot of their questions right away. By offering an uncluttered intuitive interface and easy to use and navigate website will give them a more pleasurable browsing experience that turns into a professional business front and more business because of it.