The internet is constantly changing and evolving. Websites that were once cutting edge quickly appear dated, lose their search engine ranking, or become vulnerable to security threats when not regularly maintained. Today’s modern website should account for the following major trends, features, and functionalities.
The Changing Web User
Prior to smartphones and tablets, visiting a website was a well-defined activity. A web-designer or business owner could be reasonably certain that their users were sitting in a chair at a desk with a monitor in front of them. If the user happened to be sitting on the couch with a laptop it was of little difference; screens were all roughly similar in shape and size.
In the last decade, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets has thrown that predictability out the window. Mobile web traffic has increased from 20% in 2010 to over 70% in 2019. It’s better now to assume that your web user is standing at a bus stop, waiting in line for coffee, or snatching up their phone to make a quick search while watching TV. Each of these varied users might be on one of many different sized devices.
Mobile browsing has brought not only a variety of screens, but also a variety of user interfaces. Much of today’s mobile time is spent not in Google Chrome or Firefox but in specific applications like Instagram, Netflix, or Venmo. Major websites like ESPN and Reddit tout their smartphone apps. All these applications come with interfaces tailored to the mobile user, and users have come to expect this same high standard of experience whether using their smartphones, tablets, or desktops. A modern website must be able to satisfy these expectations to have any chance at holding a visitor’s attention.
Gone are the days’ of maintaining two websites – one for PC browsers and another for mobile users. Responsive design follows the principle that a single website design should be able to serve a clean and satisfying user experience to every size and shape of device. The introduction of HTML5 and CSS3 have made it readily achievable to create websites that read the screen size of the user and deliver the appropriate design rules, creating what feels like a user interface tailored specifically to their device.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is another crucial piece of the modern website. Reinforcing the earlier discussion of responsive design, Google announced in 2015 the addition of a new piece to their search engine algorithm that evaluates the mobile-friendliness of your website. Having a non-responsive website can put you at a serious disadvantage in the battle for web traffic.
Security: More Important Than Ever
Many website owners wrongly assume that their sites aren’t likely to be targeted by hackers. They might think that their website isn’t worth a hacker’s time, or that hackers are only interested in government information, and underestimate their own risk. This can be a costly mistake to make.
According to Cybint:
- 43% of all cyber attacks target small businesses
- 64% of businesses have experienced web-based attacks
Improving website security requires constant attention to detail and regular maintenance. Some important steps any website owner should take:
- Update underlying software to incorporate latest security patches
- Upgrade your hosting service
- Change your CMS setting
- Initiate reliable website backups
- Install an SSL Certificate
- Improve your password management
A Picture = 1000 Words
The shift in emphasis from words to imagery has been one of the main trends in web design over the last decade. As the screen resolution and color profiles of new devices continues to improve, the payoff of that trend only amplifies. If your website looks like it could have been designed in a text editor, you’re missing out on a chance to sell your brand. Images are superior to text because they tap directly into a user’s emotions, and it’s this emotional connection that will win you a new customer. Imaging isn’t limited to pictures, however; logos, fonts, color schemes, video, animations, and the organization of the text itself all have their part to play.
As modern users grow accustomed to instant access to information via their smartphones, today’s internet requires fast page loads.
According to Google:
- 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if a page took longer than 3 seconds to load
- The BBC lost an additional 10% of users for every additional second their site took to load
- Pinterest increased search engine traffic and sign-ups by 15% when they reduced perceived wait times by 40%
As your website performance suffers so does your user’s experience. No amount of marketing or customer service will keep that potential client engaged if they hit the back button before your page has even loaded. Improving website performance times requires a thorough examination of the hosting service, code, resources, and data that comprise your website.
Getting a user onto your website is only half the battle—once there they need to be able to intuitively find the information they were looking for. The primary tools a website can provide its users are navigation and search. Good navigation gives a user at-a-glance ability to start moving in the right direction while also providing search engines like Google a way to understand what’s on your website, helping you appear higher up on their search results. If your website houses a large amount of information, a search bar can streamline the data hunting process, helping the user find what they want right away.
Fundamental to sound navigation and search functionality is the sensible organization of your website’s content. It’s easy to think of your content as fitting into various categories, and this is a great first step. It is fundamental, however, that data be organized in a way that doesn’t dead-end your user and leave them stranded. Think of ways to ‘cross-link’ your content, so that the user is always faced with some new information that might interest them. This will help create an exiting experience for your users while encouraging them to spend more time on your site.
A Multi-Faceted Online Presence
Social media is becoming more and more a way for businesses to interact with their clients. The maturation of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and many other social media services has given birth to convenient pools of potential new clients waiting to be tapped. In order to best leverage these new tools, it’s important to connect the dots between your various online presences. This can be achieved literally with appropriate ‘social media links’, but also in a holistic sense by ensuring imagery, verbiage, and other branding criteria are consistent across services.
Many different pieces go into a modern website, and the very concept is a constantly moving target. Success in modernizing your own website doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. There are concrete steps on the path to modernity, and professionals who know how to help.
Flexpro Technology Solutions can provide an evaluation of your current website and identify which areas of improvement to prioritize. We also offer a full suite of web design services should you decide it’s time to bring your existing website into the modern age.
Have you ever tried to modernize your own website? Do you have any questions about responsive design? Are you interested in our Website Modernization services? Please comment below and we’ll be happy to discuss your thoughts.