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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, of which more than 400 million are active today. It is imperative that your presence on your website – the foundation of your brand’s digital global home – be as strong as possible.
As someone who has designed and developed countless award-winning global websites, here are my five crucial elements for a successful website.
1. First impressions count
According to Research from Google, it only takes users 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to form a first impression of your website and whether they will stay or continue browsing other sites. The study found that low visual complexity and high prototypicality were very attractive factors for users staying on a website.
Keep things visually simple and clutter-free, and analyze high-traffic competitor sites before formulating your conceptual layouts to guide the development team.
2. Mobile First vs. mobile responsive
There are now 4.32 billion unique mobile users worldwideindicating 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 improvement, where the website is more will add elements as the screen size grows.
Media queries became a W3C standard in 2012, built first for desktop and then elements modified and removed as the screen got smaller. This is now no longer the best approach. Remember today’s latest will be fashionable tomorrow. The trick is to predict what will still be relevant in the next 3 to 5 years.
A mobile-first development strategy ensures that your audience today has an optimal experience on their favorite device: mobile. Improving page time, encouraging user action, and helping to deliver your brand message more effectively will improve your audience’s experience.
Explore the use of lossless scalable vector graphics (SVG) and WebP formats for sharper and faster results, rather than traditional raster formats, such as JPG and PNG, which degrade severely on retina displays.
Google’s Chrome Canary helps you make and test your informed choices for what’s next in browser technology.
3. Content is king
The quality of your content should be equal, if not better, than that of your main competitors.
Search engines like Google value websites that are in-depth and informative. According to Google’s SQEGwebsites must have a useful purpose.
Investing in journalistic quality standards from expert writing and professional creative designers will ensure that your website meets user intentions and informs, educates, entertains or encourages them to take action.
Since the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video than without, brands should leverage video content, as viewers remember 95% of a message after watching it, compared to just 10% when it’s read as text. A video on your website landing page makes you 53% more likely to appear on page 1 of Google.
When it comes to winning website awards and getting to the top of 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’s worth the effort $300 billionmore than the film and music industries combined.
The last thing anyone wants is a tedious system to use. Games are made not just to be useful, but to provide entertainment to the user. Consider how you can leverage similar UI/UX elements for critical areas such as navigation, interactivity, and user feedback.
An overarching entertainment-based focus makes your website stand out from the crowd and be fast, easy and fun to use.
A good development strategy can future-proof your website for years to come and deliver significant cost savings. Rather than rebuilding the entire system every year, a minimal periodic refresh can help keep your brand competitive and relevant. This will only work if the website is designed to facilitate this in the future.
Build for tomorrow and think about what the hardware landscape will look like when you start. The key to a website’s success is predicting the scope of what users’ devices will do, not just now, but 3 to 5 years from now, while still looking and feeling modern.
5. Build a specific custom platform or CMS
You can’t beat a tailored suit. No matter how good that off-the-shelf product seems, eventually you’ll get to the point where you don’t want to put up with any quirks, preferring something that’s built perfectly and precisely for your exact needs. The same goes for your business and its website.
Yes, while you could adapt something from a mass-produced and sometimes even free platform, there comes a time when every good brand needs a real competitive edge with its digital home.
No out-of-the-box website platform or CMS can be as powerful as one built explicitly for your business and its specific needs.
By building a website that better serves its users by considering all the above areas, you can not only win prizes but also improve operations, which ultimately helps to generate more revenue for your business.