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In 1992 there were only ten websites online. Fast forward to 2022 and there are over 1.9 billion registered websites, over 400 million of which are active today. It’s imperative that your website presence — the foundation of your brand‘s digital global home — is the strongest it can be.
As someone who has designed and developed numerous award-winning global websites, here are my five crucial elements for a successful website.
1. First impressions count
According to research from Google, it takes users only 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to form a first impression of your website and whether they will stay or continue surfing to other sites. The research found that low visual complexity and high prototypicality were highly appealing factors to users that remained on a website.
Keep things visually simple and clean and analyze high-traffic competitor sites before formulating your conceptual layouts to help give direction to the development team.
2. Mobile-first vs. mobile-responsive
There are now 4.32 billion unique mobile users worldwide, which indicates that over 90% of the global internet population uses a mobile device when going online.
Mobile traffic has grown from 8.32% in 2012 to 57.37% in 2022. With the change in mobile adoption, it is better to develop a mobile-first strategy using progressive enhancement, where the website will add on more elements as the screen size grows.
Media queries became a W3C standard in 2012, building first for desktop and then adapting and removing elements as the screen shrunk. This is now no longer the best approach. Remember that today’s cutting edge will become fashionable tomorrow. The art is to predict what will still be relevant in the next 3 – 5 years.
A mobile-first development strategy ensures that your audience has an optimal experience on their preferred device today — mobile. Improving time on the page, encouraging user actions and helping to deliver your brand messaging more effectively will enhance your audience’s experience.
Explore using SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) lossless formats and WebP for sharper and faster results, instead of traditional raster formats, like JPG and PNG, which degrade badly on retina screens.
Google’s Chrome Canary will help you create and test your educated choices for what’s coming next in browser technology.
3. Content is king
The quality of your content must be equal, if not better, than your main competitors.
Investing in journalistic-quality standards of expert writing and professional creative designers will ensure your website satisfies the user’s intent and informs, educates, entertains or encourages them to take action.
With the average user spending 88% more time on a website with video than without it, brands should deploy video content, as viewers retain 95% of a message after watching it, compared to just 10% when reading it as text. A video on your website’s landing page makes it 53% more likely to appear on page 1 of Google.
When it comes to winning website awards and ranking top on Google — quality always trumps quantity.
4. Future-proof UI and UX design
The games industry is one of the most advanced industries for successful global digital products. It is worth over $300 Billion, more than the movie and music industries combined.
The last thing anyone wants is an arduous system to use. Games are created not just to be utilitarian but to provide entertainment to the user. Think about how you can deploy similar UI/UX elements for critical areas like navigation, interactivity and user feedback.
An overarching entertainment-driven focus will ensure your website stands out from the crowd and is quick, easy and fun to use.
A good development strategy can future-proof your website for years, presenting significant cost savings. Instead of rebuilding the whole system each year from scratch, a minimal periodic refresh can ensure your brand stays competitive and relevant. This will work only if the website has been future-scoped to facilitate this.
Build for tomorrow and think about what the hardware landscape will look like when you launch. The key to website success is to predict the scope of what users’ devices will be doing not just now but also in 3 – 5 years, all while still being contemporary in its look and feel.
5. Build a specific bespoke platform or CMS
You can’t beat a tailored suit. No matter how good value that off-the-shelf product seems, eventually, you’ll get to the stage where you don’t want to put up with any quirks, and you’ll prefer something built perfectly and precisely for your exact needs. That’s the same for your business and its website.
Yes, although you could adapt something from a mass-produced and sometimes even free platform, there comes a time when every good brand needs a true competitive advantage with its digital home.
No off-the-shelf website platform or CMS can be as powerful as one explicitly built for your business and its specific needs.
Building a website that better serves its users by taking into account all the above areas will not only help you win awards but also improve business operations, ultimately helping to drive more revenue for your business.