Truth: Putting together a website is not as hard as it once was.
Some providers (like WordPress or Squarespace) and themes require absolutely no coding experience, and only minimal design-savvy to put together a website. That isn’t of course to say that the website will be professional or good quality. Anyone can bake a cake, but it takes a baker to really bake a cake.
But what makes the difference between a professional and seamless website experience and one that clunks along like an old dialup modem is the little things.
Here’s the top little user experience features your site might be missing that make the difference between seamless and potentially confusing.
Take a look at your browser tabs right now. How many do you have open, 3? 4? So many you can’t even count?
A favicon is the icon that shows up in your browser’s tab. It’s an icon that is universal for your site, and is custom set to whatever you want it to be. When you first set your site up, chances are it won’t be too pretty of a favicon. Squarespace’s favicon is a grey box, WordPress’s favicon is their logo. What does your website’s favicon look like?
When users have many browser tabs open, the text for each tab becomes almost unreadable, only showing a word or maybe just a couple characters. The favicon is what users look to as a guiding point to your site, but what good is the icon if it doesn’t represent what your website is all about? How will I, as a user, be able to go directly to your website when I have a bajillion tabs open if I can’t tell which tab your site is in?
Favicons are ridiculously easy to create. Most times you can use the same logo you do on social media (a square image), but keep in mind that your image may be viewed in large and small formats. The favicon is also what is used when someone saves your website to their Home Screen on iPhone, so it’s best to have an image that is high enough resolution that it won’t look pixellated on retina displays.
#2: Pretty URLs
How many times in a day do you click on a direct link to a URL, or have to type one in from memory? Chances are, that URL is pretty short, and gives you a good idea of where you’re going.
For example, on my site, the URL hannah-warren.com/products-services takes you to, you guessed it, my products and services page. Any blog posts have a URL that starts with hannah-warren.com/blog/, with the suffix being a string that matches what the blog post is about, like going to hannah-warren.com/blog/write-perfect-cover-letter takes you to the post on How to Write a Perfect Cover Letter.
I’ve noticed on a few sites though links that are either ridiculously long (for no good reason), don’t describe what the page is about, or that just look unprofessional. For example, yourwebsite.com/oiuwet122290, yourwebsite.com/home-new-updated-FINAL, or yourwebsite.com/letters (when it’s really your blog).
The reason for having pretty URLs is two-fold. First, it helps your customers. Even if they aren’t familiar with your site, there’s a good chance they can navigate themselves around quite well using common names for pages, like “Contact”, “My Cart”, “Blog”, or “Pricing”. When they’re sharing your website, they’ll be able to remember the specific link more easily.
Not only that, but it will help you too! You’ll be able to update your website faster if you can simply type in the URL you want to link to when creating new pages rather than having to have the other page open or searching for it every time. It will also help when creating compelling ads and emails (like “visit yourwebsite.com/offers for our latest promotion!”) by taking up less space and looking more professional.
Having a solid structure for your website is important, and it’s not enough to just create the pages without a sense of order and hierarchy.
#3: Demo Content
If you’re using a pre-made theme for a provider like WordPress or Squarespace, you’re probably working with pre-existing content. For example, when you purchase a WordPress theme the theme designers will often provide demo content you can download to your website. This content is premade with sample information to show you how to use the theme to create certain effects and looks, with the intention being that you either edit the demo pages or create your own, using the demo pages as inspiration.
Only what happens is that sometimes, some of this demo content gets forgotten about. The main culprit I see here is usually forgetting to set your custom social media links in the header or footer, so instead of linking to your Facebook page, your visitors either end up at the Facebook of the theme developer or right back where they started!
Imagine you’re in a room where the walls and floor is blue. In this room, there are different coloured doors that lead you to different rooms. How would you feel if you walked through the purple door and entered the green room? Or even worse, if walking through the purple door lead you right back into the blue room? Would you feel disoriented? Confused, maybe? Annoyed? This is how your visitors feel when your links don’t link where they should link!
Whenever you’re importing demo content on your own (your web designer should deal with this for you), ensure that you’re not just editing the demo content but that you’re creating your own pages. Remember that demo content will often rewrite your existing content, like logos and social media links, so it’s worth going over everything in the backend of your website and ensuring that everything has your content. It’s never a bad idea to test your website carefully and have someone else who’s never seen it go through and check everything before you post your site live.
Looking over your website and realizing that you’ve got a ton of things to update? Realizing your site might need a user experience overhaul? Get in touch with me today for a custom website assessment and web design package suited to fit your site’s needs!