Many of us forget that the most important relationships with our websites are not our own: They are our customers'. Your website must work for your customers and your prospects, and success is measured by whether your site visitors do what it is you really need them to do -- whether it's fill out a form, purchase a product, call a phone number, etc. Successful website designs enable quick turnaround for these tasks, and, in the new milieu where handheld devices account for more than half of web traffic, improving speed in task completion is becoming more and more important.
As a recent article in Website Magazine ('Breaking Up With Your Site's Design', February 2014) points out, its difficult for those of us who are closest to our websites to overhaul their designs. But it's critical to back up and be sure your goals are met, that emerging priorities for your business are accommodated (and that old ones are removed), that users can quickly get where they want to get, and that you avoid unnecessary features that can clutter the overall display.
Google gives us its official tips on considerations for mobile redesign, and their top two tips are "Stop frustrating your customers" and "Facilitate task completion". Tips for web marketers include suggestions that you might consider avoiding extraneous user interruptions (like pop-up windows), that we often think are good ideas to prompt users to action, but which are really unnecessary if the site is effectively designed around a clear call to action. In other words, the physical location and/or order of appearance on a page is critical, whereas lots of action on the site is distracting.
For some time, SEO and user experience experts have suggested that sliders on your homepage can hurt SEO and present usability problems for many users, particularly on mobile devices [see Search Engine Land, June 2013]. In short, image sliders on your homepage may count among unnecessary distractions.
Certainly, we're guilty at Eternity Web of succumbing to the client's desire for a rotating "beauty" shot on the homepage, typically with a message and (hopefully) a call to action embedded in each slide. The problem is whether these are clear instructions to users. If the messages are different, and the links are different, then perhaps it's not an effective design element. Many of our clients, especially nonprofits, use an image slider to tell their story. This may be OK, though not if it obscures the goal of getting someone to volunteer, make a donation, or register for an event.
The rule of thumb is the fewer the choices the better. You want your web traffic to not only be consistently up to par numbers-wise, but you also want users to take action when they do get there. Google Analytics helps us track bounce rates, time spent on site, and conversion rates for specific goals, so once a new design is implemented,it's easy to determine whether your goals are being met, and to make educated guesses about small, incremental changes to your brand new site design.
And when it all comes together in a more effective marketing vehicle, you won't regret having dumped your old site design.
Eternity Web Crew Members are standing by to assist you with dumping your current web design.