There are many components that are visual to your site visitors when you build a website. These are the graphics, look-and-feel, search, forms, and the content the site is written for the site. There are actually more items on a website than just these visual aspects. In this article we will be covering some, not all, of the hidden aspects of a website that you should consider. Whether you get a dozen visitors to your website per month or hundreds of thousands of visitors these items are all important aspects that we consider for each client project that we take on.
A/B Testing is where you try two, or more, design styles to see which one’s achieve your business goals. Although this is a visual aspect and not a hidden aspect we are listing it as only one design is typically shown to a user. The other designs that were tested aren’t being used. We strongly recommend every customer to start out with two or more unique designs and see what a group of users like best.
Each person that comes to your website sends information about who they are to you. This information is known as analytics. From analytics you can determine the browser, device type (desktop, tablet, mobile), geographic location, screen sizes, time of day, and the pages that they are accessing. In addition to the pages they are accessing you can see what order they are accessing your website. A page you may think is the most important may be the least important to your visitors. This important page may not be seen because it is hidden within your site, there is no call-to-action to get people to go to this page, or something entirely else.
If you truly want an in-depth analysis, you can go a step further and track the "hot links" that someone goes to and see exactly where they are clicking on your page. These types of programs do add some overhead but the information gathered can be invaluable to the success of a large project.
Checking for Consistency
Your website should have one voice within the text. Behind the scenes your website is built with code. This is the magical language the software developer uses to bring your website alive. No matter if your language is written in PHP, Java, Microsoft.Net, or any other language they all can achieve the same results when implemented properly. A standard for development practices. There needs to be a standard on how everything is created no matter which platform is used. By sticking to something consistently your website will have a better chance of being more stable and secure.
Define your target audience
You could say your target audience is more of a visual interface component. We think of it as residing in both areas. You will see from your analytics who is coming to your website which are known variables. The unknown variables though are who you are truly trying to target. Are the visitors in your target audience, how can you change this audience, and what can you do to change the audience if the information isn’t matching what you want it to be.
Infrastructure, Network and Server Load
When it comes to a website the speed is a crucial factor on your website. Google has a Page Speed Insights that can give you information on how your website is performing. Using this information, you can make refinements to your website by compressing files so that there is less white space and optimizing your images so that they are as small as possible.
In May of 2015 Google announce that the United States and other countries search on mobile devices had surpassed that of desktop devices. In July of 2015 this number went worldwide where every country with the Internet reported more mobile searches on the search engines than from desktop devices. Have a mobile responsive site has become ever more important to any businesses wanting to be found on the Internet. To that point the search engines are rewarding sites with a higher ranking for having a mobile site compared to a non-mobile site.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
An area that we spend a lot of time is helping businesses truly get seen on the search engines (and social media). This optimization includes page titles, description, and keywords. Many search engines will look at your description and keywords but may choose to not use the provided information as they feel that pulling the information from your website is better suited for the target audience they see your site reaching.
Although structured metadata is a solid piece of SEO we are listing it here as having structured metadata will allow you to get more granular with what the search engines show within their results. For example, you can store a lot of information about your business from your address, latitude, longitude, and your hours of operation. This information will be able to flow into mapping programs and provide additional relevance to your users.
Content Management System (CMS)
The core of any modern website is a content management system. Each one will have a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) Microsoft Word style content editor for editing your content. Each one should also allow you to easily add, edit, and remove pages to your site. The key part of a CMS is finding one that meets your unique needs for your business.
Backing up your website is important. With a website you have the core site, email servers, and any databases that are used. Each one should be backed up at an interval that works for your business and you should know what that interval is. Even if you never do anything with the information you should know when the information is backed up, how many backups are stored, how it is stored, and how often a "test" or disaster recovery test is done. Let’s say your website has an issue do you know how fast the information can be restored from the last known good state?
Last but certainly not least is security. We saved this one for last so that it stays fresh and at the top of your mind as it truly needs to be a core foundational element of what you’re building. When it comes to security your content management system needs to be secured and patched with the latest known vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities are inevitable no matter what CMS you choose. The core is how fast the CMS can get a known vulnerability out. The vulnerability may not even be part of the core CMS but part of an add-on to the CMS built by a completely different software developer.
In addition to the CMS you have a SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates (or the padlock on your website) that determines if a site is encrypted between the server and the site visitor. Search engines will move your search results up over a non-SSL site if you encrypt the entire site. This full site encryption does add some overhead but if your infrastructure is built well your users will not notice much of a difference, if any at all.
A website can be quickly built and look reasonably well with all of the free tools or any of the available content management systems on the internet. These pieces are only part of building a successful website. You wouldn’t build a house without a solid foundation so don’t build your company’s first impression on a website that doesn’t cover your business needs. To talk to our knowledgeable staff on how JM2 Webdesigners of Valparaiso (Valpo) Indiana can assist you call 855-456-2669, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through our contact form.