World class websites, like the Apple website, give their visitors a great user experience (UX), once lured through the doorway visitors are so enthralled by what they find they don't want to leave, and while their inside they can be persuaded to buy something.
By following this guide you can join Apple and the other World Class websites, making yours one of the 28% that work efficiently for their businesses, increasing traffic and revenue.
You'll find your website becomes more Google friendly and your web pages will rank higher in the SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages)
You can make your website just as good as Apples for far less than they've spent (how about for free?). Browse through the apple website then come back to this page and discover what makes it a world-class website and how you can apply those features to yours.
Lets Get started On Your World Class Website
1. A Responsive Framework
World Class Websites have to be accessible on all platforms, make sure your website is optimised for mobiles & tablets as most browsing is now done using mobile devices.
If it's not responsive it won't work properly on a mobile. Google automatically rank responsive websites higher. If you're a WordPress user there are hundreds of free responsive templates to choose from.
Use this free Google Mobile friendly test tool to check if your website is responsive, if it not get it sorted ASAP.
Your Website has to look good and work properly on all devices
2. Good User Experience (UX) Elements
World Class Websites - UX Design Elements
Garish Colors & Noise are big turn offs
- A well thought out layout:- All world class websites have one design feature in common, they are fresh, crisp and uncluttered with intelligent use of white space.
You'll find harmonious soft color palettes with no garish colors (except to make your 'call to' button stand out). Too much visual clutter overloads the senses and rather than spend time trying read everything your visitor will bounce (leave without entering your website).
- No loud noise:- Unless you have a signature video on your landing page do not load automatic music or video play.
Let your visitor decide if they want to listen to or watch media. No one likes being shouted at, when your website loads and starts generating noise that is what you are doing, shouting at people.
- Minimise adverts:- World Class Websites don't carry many adverts, they promote their own products, but for the small business paid advertising is a good source of revenue but it has to done carefully.
Preferably none on your landing or home page, then just one per page (a banner or sidebar sky scraper may be more effective than a simple box ad). 100% of visitors will read an advert if it's the only one on the page, only 76% will read it if there are multiple ads on the page.
If you must use more than one you can drop a box in amongst content to make it appropriate. Be carefull with Googles Adsense ads, they need to be seen as an addition to the page not actually intruding into it.
- NO Pop-ups:- Or any elements that slide in which obscure the content. Google will penalize your website if this happens on mobiles.
For desk tops, if you have a slide in or pop up call to action box or form time them to come in after about 20 seconds, your visitor will be engaged with your content and is more likely to pay attention and respond.
Instant pop-ups are annoying, why work to get someone to land on your page then obscure the content with an instant page wide pop-up?
- Fast loading:- Even World class websites can have loading issues. Google ranks you on speed, the aim is for every page to load in under 2 seconds, for every second people have to wait after that they will navigate away (53% after 3 seconds).
- Enable HTTPS protocol for your website:- HTTPS is vital, any page on your website that is non-HTTPS and has a password form (including log in pages) or credit card field will be labeled as “Not secure” in the location bar by Google Chrome.
Imagine what that effect that will have on potential customers? Have a look at what Google is planning.
You can pay for an SSL certificate through your host or visit Lets Encrypt and get a free one. Some hosts are backing the Lets Encrypt initiative and supporting the installation of their free certificates.
Site123 and WordPress.com websites are automatically HTTPS. If you host your own WordPress.org site you need to action this yourself.
World Class Websites - UX Site Navigation Elements
- Discoverable:- Discreet but obvious, don't make your visitor search for a tiny button that shoots out a menu, but don't plaster big buttons all over the page.
Do not have too many navigation buttons, if you have lots of pages load them into categories so when someone hovers over the headings they see a drop down menu, or put the categories in a sidebar. (See how apples put them in the footer sidebar)
- Consistency:- Keep menus on the same place on every page
- Accuracy:- Visitors need to know where they are going, your labels need to be concise and accurate.
- Categories:- Keep category headings visually divided from subcategories use bold fonts, indents, buttons etc..
- Search:- If your website has a search feature (it should) make sure it works, can compensate for misspellings and whatever is typed in it will never give a page or product not found.
If what is typed in does not exist a related item or page should be shown. Tip: if a search fails you can use a stylized 404 page as a marketing tool to guide visitors back into the site by offering money off vouchers or site specific content encouraging them to navigate to pages / items that do exist
- Images:- Make sure every clickable image has an ALT text. Ensure the descriptive text is filled as well as the ALT attribute.You need visitors to see what the link is even if the image does not appear.
- Make them workable:- If it is a navigation feature make it a clickable link, if you don't your visitor will think something is broken.
Your heading elements for subcategories may just headings but they are navigation features so if they are clicked on it there should be a result, even if it is an index page for the subcategories selected.
World Class Websites - UX Content Elements
Aim for short Paragraphs & readable text. If visitors cannot understand what you are saying they will leave.
- Readability:- Everything should be written in plain English (assuming it's an English language site) minimise the waffle and leave out the cooperate and technical jargon.
Have a look at these extracts from some web development websites landing and about me pages, they forget they are talking to laypeople not their own co-workers so terms such as:
"Our bold design style and use of ultra-clean, standards-based markup code"
"Whatever the solution, we can help in terms of ideation, rapid digital product development and building dynamic teams and agile workflows."
This may mean something to industry professionals, but what about the business owner who is just looking for someone to do his SEO?
Most lay people won't understand and don't care what this jargon means and don't have the time to find out, they just want their website to work well attract the maximum amount of visitors and convert a lot of them into customers.
They don't care how you do it they just want it done and any explanations that have to be given in language they can understand, if your website cannot do that they will find one that will.
The same applies to visitors to your website, if they cannot understand what you are saying they will leave. you have to provide suitable content to all your visitors not just a select few.
A basic catch-all introduction with links leading to a deeper analysis for industry professionals would solve this.
- Fresh, unique and relevant:- Regularly published content that enhances your website and has information your visitors want to see.
Google's spiders look for fresh content and can spot plagiarized or 'spun' (other websites content slightly rewritten to appear new) content and will penalize websites which do this.
- A blog:- Containing advice, tips, and industry pertinent information, throw in a few amusing asides.
If someone reads an amusing story or good information they like to share it so include social media share buttons.Blogs are also a great way to keep adding the fresh content Google looks for.
- Don't Oversell :- Content should inform your visitors at every stage of the purchasing funnel, you need to gently lead them on their journey.
If you oversell you appear desperate, and if your desperate to sell then it triggers alarms in your prospective customer.
To see how easy it is to lose a purchase have a look at this Wikipedia article on the online purchasing process digital marketers call the Conversion funnel.
- Freebies:- People love free stuff so give them anything downloadable, e-books, guides, reports , money off vouchers, discounts for referrals etc... These increase your websites UX at minimum or no extra cost.
3. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- Read our articles on managing your own SEO and Doing your own SEO for free to easily include basic SEO as you add content to your site
- Stay away from any SEO tactics Google (and search engine providers in general) disapprove of, these are known at Black Hat SEO and using them will get you penalised, may get your site black listed, damage your reputation and may effectively 'kill' your website.
- Do not stuff your content with keywords (words you want people to look for so your site lists in the search engine results). Search engine web crawlers are now looking for naturally written content relative to your website and will penalize the website if too many keywords are found on one page. See our Article on Keyword Planning to see how to find and use keywords on your website.
Good SEO will get you higher page rankings on SERPS
- World class websites have a single brand identity and colour scheme that crosses all channels. The website, social media platforms, advertising and any non digital media such as magazine or newspaper advertising, have to be instantly recognisable as being part of the same business.
- Make sure that everything works together smoothly, if your visitor skips to your Facebook or twitter pages you don't want to lose them.
5. Upgrading to a World Class Website.
- Revisit your sites design, is it clean, fresh and uncluttered? If your landing page in a signature video, fine if not switch off automatically loading media
- Remove unnecessary over-bloated pages, if a page is too long then cut it in half and publish it in 2 articles.
- Remove excessive advertising only include one or two on pages that are relevant to your content or industry.
- Remove excessive advertising only include one or two that are relevant to your content or industry on each page.
- Check all your links work, ensure that all your pages especially the ones deep in your site (without links on nav bars or menus) are internally linked to from other pages. Make sure paid ads have no follow links, see our Quick Guide to Internal Linking for how to easily clean up your linking structure.
- Check each pages load speed, use Googles Page Speed Insights or GTMetrix which will give load speeds for both mobile devices and desktop, identify faults and tell you how to fix them. Your maximum page load speed should be 2 seconds.
- Make sure all your images are as small as they can be without losing definition and are optimized (there are plenty of free plug-ins which do this for you). They must have the ALT tags filled in, this is the description which appears if the image does not load. Googles spiders will not read more than 16 words so make this the max and include one keyword.
- Make your keywords relevant to your content, where possible use long tailed keywords they ensure people looking for what you provide have more chance of finding you and give you a greater chance of appearing on page one of SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) See our article on Keyword Planning to see how to use long tailed keywords.
- Have social media follow and share icons on all pages.
Have a look at Googles Webmaster Guidelines to see what Google wants (and doesn't want) from websites, the more you comply with their guidelines the better your chances of ranking well in the SERPS