To get the most measurable value, your website should be created for your clients, you and search engines. Designing your website with your clients and search engines in mind pays off with improving the quality of your clients lives, longer visiting times, more visits and higher conversion rates. Designing your website for you means that updating and managing your site will be as efficient as possible, saving you precious time.
Who Are You Building Your Website For?
It should be intuitive that you have your website built for your clients and search engines. A quick web search in various industries leads to the conclusion that many websites are not.
A few examples of what a website looks like when it is not built for visitors are: pop-ups, difficult navigation, text that is hard to read and content that is hard to find, not to mention a site that is difficult to figure out and use.
This page is written as a resource for my clients, potential clients and visitors. This page is about why your website should be built and the benefits that come with building for:
- Your Clients
- Search engines
The alternative to goal oriented empathy based design is to build by preference and/or ego. You and/or your designer might have design preferences that overlap with the actions your visitors will be taking on your site. Where you don’t design your website for your clients is a missed opportunity to connect.
Built for Your Target Audience – Built to Achieve
The goals you have for your website will be connected to your visitors experience. A good reason to design for your clients is to accomplish goals.
Your website should make your life easier and should make your clients lives easier as well.
While it is important to approach your design by defining who is your target audience, your audience will also, importantly, be defined by what they are trying to accomplish on your site.
Who will be visiting your site and what will they be doing?
What are their goals on your site?
What are your goals for them?
Targeted design means knowing where your visitors goals and your goals overlap and how to connect your needs for mutual accomplishment.
Defining who your audience is and what they will be doing is a solid first step in getting a design that is geared to achieve your web goals.
The benefits that come from building your site for your target audience:
- Accomplishing your web goals
- Creating a positive user experience for clients
- Client loyalty
- Other sites may share goals and might be willing to give you valuable back links if your content can help them achieve their visitors goals
What Your Target Audience is Looking For
Visitors are generally looking for two things from websites:
Your Target Audience is Looking for Content
Your clients determine your fate. Designing your site to allow your clients to easily and readily discover the content they are looking for will help you have a better fate. Since the content on your site is what they are visiting for, your content should be easy to engage.
Your clients will visit the pages and websites that offer the content they are looking for. They will leave sites that don’t have it. This is the case if you are looking for web design for a small business, for an artist or entertainer, for a charitable organization or an animal welfare organization.
Visitors will engage sites that have the content they are looking for. They are more likely to spend time discovering other things you have to offer if they initially find what they are looking for on your website.
A positive user experience fosters an atmosphere of engagement. You are probably intent on improving the quality of your visitors lives. Engaging your content improves the quality of your visitors lives.
What kinds of content are your visitors looking for?
Pick one kind of content and then:
What need/problem does it solve?
What is the best tone for the people looking for it?
Here’s an article about creating engaging content (links out of site) that I find useful and you might as well.
The benefits of knowing and giving the content your visitors are looking for:
- They will stay longer on your site
- They are more likely to discover other things on your site of interest to them
- They are more likely to accomplish their goals on your site which means you are more likely to accomplish your goals
Your Target Audience is Looking for Good Usability
The quality of experience you offer can make or break you and it begins when they click a link to your site. Visitors develop a first impression based on how fast a page loads, how quickly they can find what they are looking for and how easy it is to navigate your content (and other factors as well).
User experience should inform how you structure content. Usability studies have found that up to 79% of visitors will scan the pages they visit. Make your content easy to engage and high quality.
Once your visitors have found the initial content they are looking for, good usability means they:
- Will be able to find other things they might be looking for
- They will know where to look to find other things
- They will know what to do next
Good usability means your visitors will know and be able to do all of these things without having to struggle through a poor design to find out how to do these things or be forced to think much at all about how to accomplish these things. It’s not that your visitors aren’t thinking people, it’s that experience of pages and websites have helped web users develop the expectation of a visit that is familiar, not a visit encumbered by novelty.
Familiarity is a quality not to be dismissed in the design of your website as it is a very high value determining factor in user experience. Visitors want content design and a user experience that shares qualities with many websites in general and also those particular to your industry. Studies on what visitors generally want from a page are immensely helpful to inform how pages are designed.
What are Search Engines Looking For?
Search engines are looking for indication that the search results they have offered are the most relevant. According to Google and Bing the number one thing to get better rankings is providing high quality content. I discuss more in depth what search engines are looking for and why elsewhere.
Search engines look at (and a whole lot more):
- Length of page visits
- About us
Search engines monitor user behavior to try and calculate the value that a site offers. Does the visitor stay on a page or do they leave quickly? How much traffic comes into the site?
The benefits of having an idea and designing for what search engines are looking for:
- You are more likely to have a site that provides a good user experience for your visitors
- You have a better chance to position yourself for better search engine results page rankings (SERP)
- You are more likely to craft content that becomes ‘shareable’ which means a greater chance for visibility
Search Engines Are Looking For Links
Another indicator of relevancy is links. Inbound links (links from another site) contribute relevancy to both the page linking to your page and also to your page. For instance, if you have a page about portrait photography and you get linked to from a blog about portrait photography this will contribute relevancy to your page. The amount of relevancy that it gives your site is dependent on the authority of the page/domain that links to your site. Inbound links can also have a harmful effect on your ranking, so it is good to keep an eye on who is linking to you and how you are being linked to.
Inbound links, most often referred to as backlinks are one of the best ways to get better rankings with search engines. Don’t get lost in the ocean of ineffective SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ) out there. If you are new to SEO or looking for some sound advice I’d recommend checking out Brian Dean at Backlinko. For a taste of what you’ll find you might start with “We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO” (links out of site and opens in new tab).
Outbound links (when you link out to another website) also increase the ranking value of your site. Outbound links contribute credibility value in the eyes of the search engines. For instance, if you have a portrait photography page and you link to an authority on portrait photography, this will contribute relevancy to your page. The quality of relevancy it adds to your page is dependent on the authority of the page/domain you are linking to. You can do a fair amount of outbound links without risking a penalty for too many.
As with everything else, don’t link just to link, use your links to improve the quality of your visitors lives.
What are a few pieces of content your visitors will be looking for?
Pick one and then:
What are five places online that might be interested in your content?
What are the obstacles to promoting this?
If you need some good SEO advice checkout Backlinko from the link above.
Search Engines Are Looking For Clear Navigation
Clear navigation hierarchy is another thing that search engines are looking for. Clear navigation hierarchy helps search engines “understand” what is most important on the page/site, with top level being most important. This data helps them search through their database to determine relevant results when a user searches for something.
Your visitors are also looking for clear navigation. It is important to draw the right balance between making your content easy to find and providing to many options. Too many choices actually makes it difficult for your visitors to find what they are looking for.
A general guideline is to have a maximum of seven top level options for navigation.
Search Engines Are Looking For Credibiltiy Indicators
An “about” page adds credibility to your site. Having an “about” page adds credibility to the page for the user. Credibility goes hand in hand with relevancy. Less credible sites are less relevant.
There are lots of other things that contribute relevancy and credibility to your site for both your visitors and search engines. I will discuss many of these things more in depth elsewhere.
In depth content is a clue to search bots and people of your credibility.
Relevant links both to and from your site indicate credibility.
What Are You Looking for With Your Website?
An important benefit to my clients is having an interface that is intuitive and efficient.
Just like designing for your clients, your site really ought to be design around the tasks that you will performing on it.
Are you looking for a website with longevity?
Are there goals you want to accomplish with your site?
Updating and Managing Your Site
The time spent managing and updating your site should reflect just that. You or the person who works for/with you shouldn’t be wasting time with a back end design that is difficult and time absorbing. Time is too high value for that. I am of the mind that a five minute update should cost you five minutes.
I customize the backend of your website (the place where you will be operating) to be reflective of your particular needs. I primarily work with WordPress to create intuitive and efficient interfaces for my clients.
Allowing for Scalability
Designing for scalability should extend the life of your design. This should allow you to make additions or changes to your website without a total redesign or rebuild.
Designing for scalability can present tension between trends in design and a more minimalist approach. Trends have a tendency to explode everywhere all of a sudden and disappear just as suddenly. I am of the opinion that tried and true methods are a sound approach to design and would prefer to let others toss their money out on testing novel approaches.
You might need to have your site freshened up after a couple of years but designing with scalability in mind will often avoid the cost of a complete site overhaul after a couple of years.
Ready to get a website created for your clients, you and search engines? Get a consult
Looking for more in depth discussion on another topic? You might be interested in: