Mobile websites that feature responsive design need to follow some best practices in 2020 to make a website get traffic. The most important thing to get across to your website designer is what is the site supposed to do? Knowing the purpose of the website is critical to success and it has to be defined to begin. Some designers will just dive right in and come up with a concept, and while that may look good, it doesn’t get to the root needs of the site. We at Spectrum Marketing design mobile websites that are optimized for the client’s online goals. This is why before we begin any project we email our “Discovery and Scope” document. This gives us a really good blueprint to follow to make the site exactly was envisioned.
Discovery & Scope
Having the client answer some important questions before we get cracking is very important. We ask questions like:
1. What is the purpose of the site?
2. What actions do you want site visitors to take?
3. What is your most successful Call-To-Action and do you want that on your site?
4. Are there any websites you like or dislike?
5. What is the time frame for this project?
This is just a short list of the questions we ask. This solves a lot of potential miscommunication and clears up any confusion up front. If your web designer doesn’t get this basic information up front, how good can they be?
Did you know that web design is 95% typography? It is a must to know what font combinations work best. Knowing what the context of the content is will help decide what font to use. What kind of information are you trying to convey? Long form text format, short bursts of text? When we pair fonts we link for distinction and harmony. Some fonts have both a serif and a san-serif sibling. We also set the correct size depending on what screen size it will be viewed on. Line width and line height are also factors to be considered for overall user experience (UX), which is becoming a Google ranking factor.
We analyze a clients content to determine the best color palette. If the client has photos to be used on site we can run the image through a tool to analyze and come up with a complimentary palette.
Your colors should not have to compete with your photos and graphics. We use a few tools like a color contrast checker especially if the site will be viewed on mobile in bright sunlight.
Color also looks different when you apply it to the text. Long form content should be on a white background, while a nice light grey will make photos pop!
Your web designer had better also be trained in the basics of on-page search engine optimization. Many websites are published without any regard to keyword research, and some of the other best practices in 2017. The Google algorithm updates of the past five years has radically changed what is getting ranked (and what is getting spanked, lol). Did you know that the Panda update affects plagiarized and poor content and keyword stuffing? The Penguin update took aim at spammy (paid-for) backlinks, and over-optimized anchor text. Finally, Rank Brain (a part of Hummingbird update) goes after relevant content to the users search intent. If your website designer isn’t up to date on these major Google changes, chances are your site will be doomed to oblivion.
Site architecture is also super important because Google knows courtesy of the AI in Rank Brain how good a websites relevancy is to the visitor. In other words, does a site visitor find the information they are looking for quickly? Good websites serve up data in an efficient manner and this is best done with a plan before going in. The home page should be the jumping off point to all the major content on the site and the url structure utilizing the proper use of categories is critical to success.
Did you know what visitors can enter your site though any of your pages or posts? Not everyone visits the home page first, so breadcrumbs are important at the top of the page so a visitor knows where they are.
Internal Link Structure
Directly related to the over all site architecture is the internal link structure from the home page to category pages. We also like to have at least a couple links to important pages from every blog post.
Google likes to see external links to other authority sites in the sites niche. This is often overlooked, but very important. It can be done easily enough just by having vendor or supplier logos linking to their websites.
As a web designer, I appreciate great communication and co-operation from the client. This makes the project go so much faster! This issue became the genesis for our Discovery and Scope document. We like to know going in how much involvement the client wants or needs in all the content, typography, etc. Some like to leave everything up to the designer, and that can be very dangerous and lead to a lot of unneccessary revisions.
We like to pre-optimize our images before we upload to the backend of the website for various SEO reasons. Chief among those is page speed. Huge 4K pictures shot on an iPhone really can bog down a site and negatively affect the SEO. Therefore, we run all of our images though a tool to reduce the overall weight of the images to make them load fast. We also like to use keywords in the image title and use alt-tags for SEO reasons.
Content is king and the Panda rules over the king! Thanks to the notorious bear, if a site has thin or plagiarized content Google will punish it! We see this all the time with both new websites and website makeovers. Website designers are not responsible for creating content for your site. This goes back to cooperation from the client. Often there is an assumption that a site designer will just write content whatever content you need. This is simply not possible because website designers are not experts in your field of business…you are! You can really do us a solid if you provide a lot of written content for your site. This will not just make your designer happy, but will give you an edge over your competition as thin content seems to be the norm.
Just Say No to Pop-ups
Pop messages need to go away! They are just annoying to both your designer and all your visitors. If you want them you will have to convince us why you think you need one, and I can assure you there are alternatives.