Knowing how a bad website performance can harm your brand, it is possible to be more accurate with some elements for user experience, such as web design, page speed, and copywriting.
A website that doesn’t deliver a good experience to visitors will make them leave your page. But a website that doesn’t have a unique experience won’t make your brand stand out.
Regarding this subject, in this article, you’ll learn how to optimize a website performance based on good practices related to:
- Page speed
- Web design
- Responsiveness, usability, and accessibility
A 2017 Google’s report, which evaluated user behavior on mobile devices, asserts that the page load time is directly proportional to the bounce rate. A delay of 1 to 10 seconds, for example, increases this metric by 123%.
The page speed — the time taken by the browser to receive the first byte of information from the server and, consequently, fully display the content in a specific area of the website — is one of the elements used by Google’s algorithm to rank websites.
A lower page speed causes higher bounce rates and a shorter time-on-page — according to Google Analytics, the “average amount of time users spent viewing a specific page or screen, or set of pages or screens.”
To improve performance, you can use CSS sprites, optimize the visual content, reduce the volume of HTTP requests, among other actions:
- Choose a good hosting.
- Install a WordPress cache plugin — W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, or WP-Rocket.
- Install WP plugins like WP-Optimize to optimize the database.
- Use a CDN (Content Distribution Network) — CloudFare, MaxCDN, Amazon CloudFront — to distribute the load of content available on the web.
CrUX (Chrome User Experience Report), the Google document that shows the page speed effect for the user experience, reports two metrics to evaluate its performance:
- First Contentful Paint (FCP) — to measure page load speed
- DOMContentLoaded (DCL) — informs when the initial HTML document has been completely loaded and parsed, without elements such as stylesheets, images, and subframes
According to the Google report, by increasing website elements — text, titles, images, for example — the conversion rate decreases. For example, if you add 5600 more elements, your conversion rate will be reduced by 95% CRO by 95%.
The first seconds on the page are crucial to the success of CRO strategies because the user decides whether to stay on the website or not. For this reason, attractive layout and visual aids are essential, especially to maintain the time-on-page.
You have to know how to combine SEO and web design because, despite the importance of graphic, visual, and interactivity resources, it is essential to optimize this type of content to avoid large files that compromise the page loading speed.
You can improve your page presentation and performance with the following tips:
- Use Hick’s Law to limit the number of user’s decisions — reduce the number of buttons on the navigation bar or use a single CTA (Call-to-Action) button.
- Opt for the rule of thirds by providing strategic parts of the content or images to attract the public’s attention.
- Respect the “F” layout design to add more relevant elements and CTA buttons in the most visible areas.
- Use the negative space — blank parts in the template between the header, footer, and sidebar, and also between paragraphs, lines, and letters — in your favor to increase the intelligibility of the page.
- Choose attractive and varied typographic elements.
- Respect the spacing between the letters and the font sizes.
- Use bold and italics in specific keywords and sentences.
- Restrict the underline to backlinks.
- Choose a harmonious color scheme as a brand attribute.
- Keep the contrast in the headlines and CTA buttons.
- Use the Gestalt similarity principle for grouping elements.
- Use human faces to promote empathy and familiarity with the content.
- Choose only high-quality images — blog posts with images are approximately 2.3 times more engaged on Facebook and receive 150% more referrals on Twitter.
Copywriting is a writing strategy to convince readers to take action. It focuses on persuasion through mental triggers. But marketers believe that persuasive writing makes CTA the main element of a copy — after all, CTA buttons catch the reader’s attention and encourage action.
However, the main copywriting requirement is the headline. It takes eight seconds to get visitors’ attention — it is the amount of time to keep the human’s attention without any interruption. Therefore, by the title, you can convince users to read what you have to say.
Delimiting the buyer persona helps to produce customer-oriented content, with style, language, and approach methods that approximate the audience’s reality — it helps to create connections with the reader.
You can improve user experience and increase the time-on-page with the tips below:
- Make an objective and directed title.
- Use attractive images to convey the main point or website purpose.
- Draw attention to the CTA.
- Highlight subscription buttons.
- Create valuable content.
- Use interactive elements such as videos, audios, infographics, graphics, calculators, etc.
- Use exit pop-ups to engage visitors who lost interest.
- Stimulate the reader’s sense of urgency.
- Use stats to increase content credibility.
- Use storytelling to attract attention and engage the audience by telling a compelling story.
- Anticipate objections by answering the main questions.
- Work on your ability to persuade — use psychological principles such as reciprocity, social proof, affection, authority, coherence, and scarcity.
- Be objective.
Responsiveness, usability, and accessibility
Responsiveness is a website feature that guarantees:
- Changing based on the screen size of the device
- A simple layout
- The same available navigation resources for both environment: desktop and mobile
- Easy actions, regardless of equipment screen size
However, responsiveness is not enough for websites. It is necessary to provide unique mobile experiences. Understanding the user’s intention when accessing content from smartphones, you can make requirements available — hierarchy of content (H1, H2, H3), clear texts for CTA buttons, description of visual content, to ensure accessibility and increase usability throughout the process.
Thus, the page must be presented in the best way, without elements blocking the text or distorted images. Users want to recognize the website elements and have a good experience visiting your page, so it is imperative to provide what they expect.
Although usability and accessibility are two completely different topics, they are directly linked. While usability enhances the user experience, accessibility allows it to be broad and comprehensive for everyone.
Developing secure websites and applications is a natural requirement of the internet, driven by technologies’ advancement and disruptive threats rise. Secure elements increase the audience’s trust in the brand. On the other hand, adding many layers of security can harm the user experience.
Despite that, security is another SEO key point for better search engine results. To ensure compliance with this requirement, it is necessary to apply the following tips:
- Keep your IT infrastructure up to date.
- Use strong passwords, preferably with uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) /TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates to encrypt data traffic.
- Add Captcha to the website forms to certify that the user’s actions aren’t performed by robots.
- Create a cookies policy.
- Have a secure hosting to prevent distributed denial-of-service attacks — an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources (DDoS) — and ransomware.
- Have an uninterrupted backup system, preferably in virtualized platforms — cloud server, for example.
- Use tools capable of coding the pages, perform security checks, and fix vulnerabilities on the website, such as security plugins for WordPress — Sucuri Security, Wordfence Security, All In One WP Security & Firewall, Jetpack, iThemes Security, or VaultPress.
- Use antivirus and firewalls to prevent malware.
- Use tools such as Google Authenticator to apply two-factor authentication in your CMS (Content Management System).
As you can see, when dealing with website design, you need to think about many elements, as any decision can affect your brand and your business positively or negatively.
Those issues go beyond graphic design, as they encompass the site’s hierarchy, content quality, security, and user experience. You need to design every aspect of your website for your audience’s experience and to achieve your goals.
Thus, a website with beautiful graphics and interactivity but on a slow host — that does not load the content properly and does not guarantee the reliability of the brand — is as bad as a website with poor design and layout.
Now you know how a bad website performance can harm your brand. When you are thinking about the design of your website, consider all the necessary aspects to optimize the user experience. Visitors will be happy, and Google will reward you with better rankings and more traffic.
Do you know other good practices for a website design? Let us know by writing your comments!
This post was written by Raphael Pires, Tech blog editor at Rock Content. Rock Content provides over 2,000 brands, marketers, and agencies with innovative content marketing solutions, creative services, on-demand talent, and professional training.