Website Design for the Future
When I bought my first car (a ‘97 Buick LeSabre—quite a boat), I thought my transportation expenses were over. Maybe a little for gas, change a filter now and then…but boy was I wrong. The salty, icy, wintry roads of Wisconsin ensured I was caring for my car regularly, keeping an eye on its condition and spare tools in the trunk just in case.
A website is kind of like a car. Regular use requires upkeep, new regulations necessitate upgrades, thieves warrant security, and stylistic trends catch our eye for how it should look. As browsers constantly change, we see the landscape of the internet unfolding before us each day.
2020 has brought about seemingly more change to industries than we’ve seen in our entire lifetimes, and the switch to online engagement is more apparent than ever. This is the first year over 50% of all retail e-commerce was generated through phones. On top of this, people expect things quickly, as up to 40% of users will stop engaging with a site if it’s slow, and almost 50% expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less.
Google even uses its own intelligent bot to crawl websites from a mobile environment, adjusting search page rank based on user experience. You can check how mobile-friendly any website is with Google’s online tool and see for yourself what changes are easily within reach. The internet’s increased use of automated software and bots has been convenient in certain ways and troublesome in others. How do you stand out against so much enticing content and services from automated services and templates?
Half of internet users admitted that website design is their number one factor in determining a business’s credibility. People want a seamless experience—one that is visually-cohesive across any screen size. The buzz of the past several years has been “responsive web design,” where web pages display well on and adapt to any device, whether it be a TV, desktop monitor, or a phone. It’s a new realm of design, built on flexibility, allowing for greater audience reach and standing out with a better user experience. Google isn’t the only one who prioritizes responsive websites in search; almost 50% of users admit that if a business’ website is not mobile-friendly, they take it as an indication the company doesn’t care. So what do we take away from all this? Quite simply, websites need to be adaptable, responsive, and beautiful.
There are several easy ways to get a good grasp of the health of your website. They are as intuitive and easy as plugging in a website URL:
- The Google Mobile-Friendly Tool will determine how responsive and mobile-friendly a site is, and PageSpeed Insights will give a better overall sense of load times.
- Google Analytics is essential and will show user behavior over time.
- Google My Business is a helpful tool for brick-and-mortar stores to see how they appear in search and business results.
If you find issues with your site, you’re not alone, as all sites have inherent problems and need regular updates. To ensure that a site is responsive, a web designer tests pages on desktop and mobile to see how they display and, if necessary, hires a competent web developer to make fixes. Web developers and designers can help assess your site’s strength and recommend anything from simple plugin updates to a full website redesign, site enhancements (not quite an overhaul, but beautifies existing content), or create new landing pages as a temporary measure.
Sometimes we worry we’re too late, or the train has taken off without us. But just as we’ve progressed from trains to cars, planes, and rockets, we see improvement as a continuum. In 2020, the full weight of moving business online started to hit us, and we will only become more digital. With everyone living online, now is the best time to consider investing in your website to stay competitive for the coming business revolution.
By Josiah Zacharias, Web Developer and Graphic Designer