Hate your website? Most do. But making a great website design is easier than ever. Varying degrees of fanciness can optimize your site, but 80/20 principle benefits come from just telling the honest truth in a transparent manner. Here’s some tips to keep it real:
1. Template Your Way to the Top
Don’t be fooled. Old-skool geeks love to do website design from the ground up. They revel in their ability to see “The Matrix” through the code. But it makes more sense to start with a pre-built template. Tens of thousands of pre-built templates exist now. there are so many that they now have to be catalogued by industry category. Thus, there’s a template that’s perfect for your business model.
For example, we’re working on a site now at BizIsland.com, a calendar site that lists business help events around our hometown, Honolulu. The knee-jerk response was to buy a convention site template. There’s a lot of them. But no cigar. Convention sites are designed for only a few days of activities. Thus while many features were good, others were lacking. Brain-fart of the day: use a church site theme. Church you say? Yep. Church website templates are designed to run events year-round. Like Bible study. And sermons. Better yet, they have donate buttons built-in (BizIsland.com is a non-profit program is). Simple success.
2. Scratch the Graphics
The other half of the old-skool guard are the graphic designers. guys that could push Photoshop and Illustrator. They delighted in making cute wrappers and containers. Cute tiling backgrounds to take up the extra side space. And cute animated graphics. But now smart phone website viewing is on the rise and trending. There’s no side space to waste any longer. And those fancy containers with content are unreadable at smart phone size.
New requirements for readability on small devices has resulted in the move to full-width formats. You should now think of plastering huge pictures wall-to-wall so they can be read when shrunk down to phone size.
But there’s still a place for a great logo in a website design. Where? It’s best floating over the top left of the navigation bar or over the first feature full-width picture. You logo is actually more useful in social media as an avatar or on print collateral. But it’s good for consistency sake to include it in your website design so viewers know they’ve arrived at the right place.
3. Get the Words Right
The new mantra in copy is: say more with less. Heck, most folks skim rather than read. And the search engines know this so their algorithms look for word that get the point and are easy to skim. The goal is to delight humans and to score well in search algorithms.
Put the important stuff up front so skimmers can get through it fast. You might even highlight the first few words of each paragraph to make it “like duh” easy to skim.
For Internet writing, fragments and even single words are fine. Why? Because it’s more readable to humans and the search engines. Short words and short sentences rank high. A rating system called Flesh Reading Score ranks written content on a scale of 1 to 120. Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat” ranks extremely high at 116. For most business information sites, ranking at 50-60 is fine as that’s readable for an average 13-15 year old. This post surprising ranks at 80.4. Not bad for a quick whack.
You should also optimize for keywords that you think your target audience will be searching for. Selecting best keywords begins with the art of knowing what you want to be… And it ends with potentially all kinds of technical stuff to optimize on those keywords. But the 80/20 principal is: know thy self and just be you… page-by-page. I.e., choose a keyword combination for each page or post and optimize that page to that keyword. For example, I chose “website design” as the keyword for this blog post. I then made sure to pepper it through the page name, title, first paragraph and a few more times down through the post.
BOTTOM LINE: Keep it real. Be transparent. Write simple. Say more with less.