We have all heard the phrase ” You only can make a first impression once.”, this statement holds some water, especially when it comes to websites. For many consumers, a website is the first exposure to a business, which is why it is so important that your website makes a great first impression. Aside from making a great first impression, a website must also be friendly to search engines. If your website is not composed correctly, it is nearly impossible to rank well on search engines like Google and Bing. If you do not rank within the first page of any search, people will be hard pressed to find your business online. In order to ensure your website is seen and received in a positive light there are seven rules of thumb every web designer must follow to engage visitors and capture the attention of search engines.
Rule #1. Keep it simple, this should be your motto. By keeping the layout simple, it is easy for search engine spiders to crawl the site, making it easier for them to follow. Now a simple layout does not mean a plain or simplistic design. You want the design to be clean but engaging. The design of your website should encourage visitors to spend time on the site and engage.
Rule #2. Use CSS to manipulate text. Many designers often are more attracted to graphical text, but plain text is much more friendly for search engines. Instead, many designers now use CSS to manipulate plain text into a more appealing format, while maintaining its usefulness.
Rule #3. Implement mouse-over images. This rule is particularly useful for sites that are image-heavy. By using mouse-over images you can implement text the search engine spiders will precieve as content , without loosing the room for the images. This will transform an image heavy site into one with quality content.
Rule #4. Experiment with font. Font is one of the easiest ways to implement design into any site. Because font is regular text, the search engines still recognize the font as viable content. This means you can adjust the design of a site by simply using different font styles.
Rule #5. Be sure to create a mobile alternative of the site, or make it responsive. More and more people use their smartphones or mobile devices to get online, which means more people are viewing sites outside the purview of a computer screen. This means that designers must adjust sites to fit the perameters of the mobile devices.
Rule #6. Do not design a site that takes too long to load. No matter how amazing your website design may be, if it takes too long to load, people will bounce. The goal of your site should be to engage and sustain visitors’ attention, not send them away.
Rule #7. Remember conversion is king. While a well design site can give the designer and owner a sense of satisfaction if people are not staying on your site, or the attention is not converting into sales or leads, it is not converting well. You may want to try a few different design options and see what offers the best results.