Three Seconds to Impact

Year after year, advancements in technology bring new creative challenges to the forefront of web design. As internet users become accustomed to technological changes, we need to anticipate their needs and develop innovative designs to stay ahead of the competition. There are four elements to building a website in 2015 that you cannot ignore:

  • You must understand your audience.
  • Your audience should determine your goals.
  • You must be mobile-ready.
  • Your website must feature engaging content.

Every company in your industry is vying for the attention of the same target market. To get ahead, you need a strategy that will implement each element efficiently.

Know your Audience

The number one rule in web design is to remember that you are creating the site for your audience, not for yourself. The better you know your audience, the easier it is to tailor your design to meet their needs. Choose the color, layout and font based on your audience’s preferences, and you will likely see an increase in activity and conversions on your site. Look at your competitors and analyze their performance against the marketing trends for your audience. Recognizing which part of your competitor’s design is effective and which is not will help you decide what direction you should take with your website.

Let your Audience Determine your Goals

Not everyone in your target market has the same agenda when they land on your site. Some users are just browsing. Your website may be their first encounter with you. This is your opportunity to clearly demonstrate who you are and what you do. Other users come to your site looking for specific information. This is where site navigation plays an extremely important role. You need to make it as easy as possible for those users to locate the information they need. If they have to search through content-heavy pages to find what they’re looking for, they will move on to another site.

Then there are the users who know your brand. Your objective with this audience is to get them to take a specific action. For example, your goal might be to have them sign up for your newsletter, buy your product, or contact you. To get them to take action, you have to tell them what you want them to do and make it so easy that they don’t have to think about how to do it. Once you understand your audience, you can develop an intuitive site to meet user expectations.

Build Mobile First

If you’re not sure whether or not you need to be mobile-ready, consider this: More than 61 percent of internet users use a mobile device to shop and search online. Five years ago, it was common to build a traditional website and then convert the content to a mobile-friendly version. Today, you must design mobile first. A responsive design is one that adapts automatically to different screen sizes. Creating a responsive web design requires more effort and planning up front but pays off in the long run as the site will display correctly on a desktop computer, tablet or phone. Building a website for mobile devices requires the ability to fit the content on a much smaller screen, implement a faster load time, and create one-touch navigation options to satisfy your audience. According to Akamai Technologies Inc., 47 percent of users expect a website to load in two seconds, and 57 percent will abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load the content. You have less than five seconds to make an impact on your audience. If your site takes more than three seconds to load, you’re losing your audience.

Content Is King

Compelling content is the trigger that prompts your audience to take action. More websites are now using custom, professional-grade photography rather than stock images. These high quality images lend a personal feel to the site that speaks directly to your audience. Another growing trend is the minimalist design which relies on simplicity to lure the audience in deeper. This design may include large fonts with few words and no images, or hidden menus that urge the audience to click on an app-style icon to reveal the content. Whether the information is hidden or easily accessible on a scrolling page, the words you use can significantly impact how your audience perceives your brand.

Be Social. Be Mobile. Be Responsive

There is no substitute for engaging content. Every line of text is setting them up to take another step. If someone lands on an informative page, the content should always be created to lead them to your goal. The purpose of written content is to take the user all the way through the actions you want them to perform as efficiently as possible. Ultimately, the content you use on your site needs to be valuable to your audience.

Your website is a sales and marketing tool designed to capture your audience’s attention and get them to take action. You may have the best traffic generation money can buy, but if your website doesn’t meet the expectations of your audience, you will never reach your goals. The formula for designing a website in 2015 requires knowing your audience and adapting your goals to create the perfect design for them.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Steven Alig Meet the Author
Steven Alig is GAWDA’s webmaster and president of South Florida Web Studio in Hollywood, Florida, and at www.soflaweb.com.