8 Calgary web design best practices for 2019
Seventy-five percent of consumers determine how credible your business is based on the design of your website. Does that stat make you cringe or salivate?
If your website is in top shape – crawlable by search engines and designed for users – you’re ahead of the pack. If not, there are plenty of ways to fix that.
Because 94 percent of first impressions are driven by visuals, web design can often be a slam dunk or an airball – the range is really that dramatic. Luckily, there are plenty of web design best practices that companies of every size can follow.
1. Must-have mobile responsive web design
Responsive web design is now mandatory, as Google considers the mobile version of a web page, rather than its desktop equivalent, to be its “true” version. Being mobile-responsive means being completely in tune with users’ preferred consumption formats – smartphones – while ensuring the ideal experience in terms of scannability, rendering, content layout and properly sized buttons and contact info. Seventy percent of web searches occur on mobile, so not adapting to this fact is a definite business loss.
2. Consistent branding
Branding is a somewhat conceptual task for marketers. Colour theory, A/B testing and heatmapping aren’t necessarily second nature to everyone, which makes it especially pertinent to involve specific optimization tools and design talent.
Branding, though, is one of those first impressions that users immediately spot as exciting or off-putting, without always being able to explain why – it’s how our brains are hardwired. The key to a strong website is to keep your branding – colour patterns, tone of voice, iconography and other visual stimuli – consistent throughout every web page so that the entirety of your site creates a seamless narrative.
Branding also entails the strategic use of white space, in other words, refraining from overloading visitors with excessive, noisy page elements like blocks of text, sidebar ads, popups and various design cues in an effort to fill up space. Readers need time to breathe, to absorb and to reflect on the experience.
3. Sub-3 page speeds
Loading times are a Google ranking factor, and site visitors expect to wait no longer than 2 seconds. Unfortunately, mobile loading times average 22 seconds. If you can’t get your loading times down to 3 seconds, max, you can almost guarantee about 53 percent of visitors will abandon your site immediately.
Use a free tool like Google PageSpeed Insights to shed light on the potential issues your site faces. That way, you can remedy them for faster loading.
Compressing images and limiting plugins are two simple ways to boost loading times without hindering anything on your site’s backend.
4. Clickable CTAs
Too many calls-to-action lead to analysis paralysis: Users don’t know how to proceed. That’s why having a smaller number of CTAs is best, as fewer options forces users to take actions that are more predictable and measurable.
CTAs should ideally be clickable buttons, instead of simple hyperlinks or generic references to “call this number now.” On mobile screens especially, buttons are enormously helpful to users, since it’s clear where they should click on the page without needing to zoom in on or pinch their screens.
Placing these CTAs at various points on your page takes experimentation, but, as a general rule, ensure that the top navigation always includes some form of CTA so that users can click through no matter where they are. Additionally, CTAs aren’t reserved only for end-of-article content; they can be interspersed throughout copy to create more of a native advertising, nondisruptive experience. Remember, 80 percent of all attention is captured above the fold, so be sure to have a CTA positioned somewhere high on the page. You need to leave an impression early, or you’ve missed the opportunity entirely.
5. Simple navigation structure and site hierarchy
A sticky or floating nav occurs when the top navigation bar of a page stays with the reader as they scroll, ensuring full access to CTAs, business information, related landing pages and other navigational directions.
This feature should be paired with a relatively flat or simple site hierarchy, i.e., easily understood and searchable child and parent pages and logical high-level categories. Every page on your site should be accessible within two to three clicks, as the longer it takes for a user to find the information they seek, the more likely they will bounce.
6. Be human, be visual
Users prefer imagery that contains human faces, as evidenced by Instagram data that shows people-centric photography generates 38 percent more likes and 32 percent more comments than other types of images.
This fact is important because everyone dislikes stock photography, and overly artsy or illustrated imagery can detract from the underlying message of your brand: We’re humans, too, we care and we’re here to help.
Include authentic, non-staged photography, as well as videos, whether that means testimonials, demos, presentations or storytelling. Fifty-five percent of people watch videos all the way through – higher than every other content format – and those that are about 2 minutes long receive the most engagement.
7. Update now to HTTPS
HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) is non-negotiable. More than 50 percent of all sites use HTTPS, and that number will rise every year thereafter as Google has adjusted its algorithms to specifically reward HTTPS sites over sites with HTTP.
HTTPS encrypts user data, authenticates internet communications and aids Google when crawling and indexing your web pages. You can learn more about HTTPS migration here.
As a website design best practice, this is a foundational task that’s critical to online marketing.
8. Inclusive web accessibility
A newer addition to the web-design awareness conversation is website accessibility.
Web accessibility refers to the coding of sites for maximum functionality and usability for those with visual, auditory, cognitive, intellectual or motor impairments. This may include enhanced navigation features, text-to-speech software, close-captioned videos, alt text and avoiding page effects that flash.
Professional, affordable Calgary web design is paramount in a digital-first environment. Parxavenue’s website development, SEO and design teams bring full-service marketing solutions to businesses in the Alberta region.