In order to rank well in search engines you need a solid SEO strategy – and part of that means having a great web design that provides a good user-experience. If the foundations are not laid, everything you do afterwards will collapse.
Web designers often pick up on trends and there are very few unique websites out there, so if you are building or rebuilding a website, don’t concern yourself too much with the style, focus on making the site user-friendly.
Google award extra brownie points to web owners that provide a good UE to visitors. End-users will also stay on your site longer, return and follow through to purchase if they can navigate your site and easily find what they want.
And if they can’t they leave and go to your competitors. Some SEO’s summise that search engines may use metrics like bounce-back rate, how long visitors stay on your site and how many pages they visit as part of your SEO ranking (NB: This has NOT been confirmed by Google). Even from a user experience and strong conversion rate optimisation perspective having a user-friendly web design with great content is a no-brainer.
What makes a good user-experience?
Any web designer knows the most aesthetically pleasing interfaces are natural and compelling. When you have a slick design that looks cool, half the job of keeping visitors onsite is done.
However, if the design does not have flow streams that guide users to relevant parts of your website, it is not usable. In which case, it doesn’t matter how good the site looks.
Not every visitor that comes to your site will land on the homepage, nor will they finish on the same product. Users come to your website looking for different things, and it is the role of web designers to create a sitemap that can be easily followed.
Flow streams should be the first consideration of a web design, even before you start thinking of information architecture and aesthetics. Sitemaps must have a clear path from any starting point, through a sales funnel, and finally to check-out.
By mapping out a path for users to follow, they are more comfortable navigating your site and more satisfied with how easy it is to find what they are looking for and make a quick, easy purchase.
Including visual elements in a web design is a given, but it is how you use the images that is important. For example, consumers like to feel they are dealing with people rather than a faceless corporation.
By including photographs of your staff, you can make a psychological connection with visitors. But don’t use images for the sake of it. If you use stock photos of models and present them as your employees, people will see right through that and you lose all credibility.
Less is more
Internet users want to make easy decisions. They do not want to be confused with dozens of options, flashing lights and an info-filled homepage. Keep designs as clean as possible with limited options for users to choose from.
If you’re designing a large library of pages like an eCommerce site with multiple product categories, the less is more mantra is more of a challenge. But there are still ways of making the design clean and engaging.
Remove clutter makes product pages stand out, and the sales copy should be reserved for each individual page, rather than everything piled into the landing page. Your website should read like a book, with a different part of the story on each page.
As search rankings become more crowded, online companies have to look at various ways of improving search engine standings, and web design has a huge impact on user-experience. And UE is a top priority for search engines. So it should be a top priority for you.