With thousands of websites competing for our attention, it’s important that those striving to have a great website make it stand out. There are many things you can do to make your website more readable, more interesting and more likely to provide real value to the visitor.
Here are 10 tips for improving your website.
1. Increase the “scanability” of your pages
In general, most of us scan websites. We have short attention spans and we want information quickly. If you want visitors to stay on your website, you want to make it easy to scan. Use numbers, bullets and other design elements that keep the copy easy to read and easy to scan. In general, readers love lists and similar elements that quickly and easily draw the eye across the page.
2. Keep your copy concise
Make the first few words of each page really count, or you can lose readers quickly. Also, use a journalism technique called “inverted pyramid”, which places the most important information at the top of an article and less important information lower in the article.
3. Stress benefits
People head to your website to see what you can do for them. Stress what you offer that is beneficial to them. Do this in an easy-to-read way that is concise and easy to scan and you have a winner of a website!
4. Keep links descriptive
In general, don’t provide a one-word link or a hyperlink on a word that has little meaning to the reader. Readers want to know where they will be taken, so be as descriptive as possible when creating links. There’s no need to be wordy, but be generous enough with the information that the reader knows where he or she is going.
5. Add a search option and always link to home
If your readers don’t know where they are going or how to find what they are looking for, they will look for a search feature. Give them one so they can type in what they are looking for and find it. To that end, have your logo on each page of your website and make sure that it links to home. If readers get confused or off track, they know they can always click on the logo and go “home” to start all over again.
6. Make meaningful page titles
This is no time to be esoteric. Make page names that mean something to you and to the reader. Simple titles like “services” and “about us” are sufficient and will serve your website’s purpose well.
7. Play the “above the fold” game
Newspapers know well the value of putting the most valuable copy “above the fold” of the newspaper. Often people don’t turn the paper over to see what’s below the fold, but they will read everything above the fold. Use this technique by putting your most valuable copy at the top of your pages, or above the point where people will need to scroll to keep reading.
8. Use visual elements strategically
People like graphs, pictures and other elements that help to add value to content and make it easier to read. Stay away from stock photos, however, as some studies have shown that people place little stock in them. But good photos, graphs and visuals that educate and inform are always welcome and add great value to the readability of your pages.
9. Provide a consistent message
Think about style. That is, do you want to capitalize certain words that tie to your product or industry? If so, create a style that readers can come to expect. They will know that word or phrase will always be capitalized. It’s important, however, that you consistently do this. As well, read through all copy on your web pages carefully and make sure that the overall message and style is consistent from page to page, even if different writers created different pages.
10. Look at it like a visitor
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own projects that we forget that others are looking at them, too. Leave the backend of your site now and then and look at it the way a visitor sees it. Would you continue reading? Would you want to know more about your product or service? Would you ask for more information, purchase a product or call to make an appointment?
Improving your website is really about simple fixes that add to the overall look and readability of the site. Even without technical knowledge, these are changes that anyone can make. The benefit of making the changes will likely be more than worth the effort.