We live in a world where every business has an online presence and the first impression of any website is now more important than ever. There are more than 1.8 billion websites on the Internet at the moment, and the number is growing every day.
The increase of the competition brings a great interest in examining the factors of a successful website. While no one will argue that it’s essential to have a successful website, it’s still not easy to understand what exactly success means and how to measure it.
Define What Site Success Means to the company
- Set A Global Goal
Finding the answers to questions such as “What are the goals?” and “What the brand wants to achieve with their website?” should be the first thing to do when starting a new project.
Skipping a stage of defining global goals and moving directly to the design is a common mistake among many product teams. Without knowing exactly what they want to achieve, their chances of making a positive impact with their website will be poor.
Every website needs a well-defined product strategy to set the tone for all of the activities, and it gives a context that helps in making design decisions. When the brand has a solid understanding of what they expect to get out of the site, it helps them to work towards that goal.
Product strategy is a combination of achievable goals and visions that work together to align the team around desirable outcomes for both the business and their users.
- Strive To Create User-Focused Experience
Visitors ultimately determine the success of a website. For the visitors to rank the website higher, the brands should portrait their ideal users and try to understand what content they might need/want, their browsing habits and the level of their technical competence.
This knowledge will help the brand appeal to them better. It is also important for the brand to think about the goal of their visitors and create user journey map to help figure out typical ways people use it
Essential Characteristics of Website Design That Influence Its Success
Generally, the better the first impression, the better the chance that user will stay for longer on the website. But if the first impression is negative, it might make users want to avoid interacting with the brand’s products.
And how does a brand leave a good first impression? Good design.
First impressions are 94% design related, while it’s impossible to define one-fits-all design decisions that will guarantee a successful site, it is still possible to focus on factors that are able to create a great first impression that is the quality of content, usability, and visual aesthetics.
- High-Quality Content
The copy used on the brand’s website is just as important as the website’s design; it’s the reason why people visit the website.
More than 95 per cent of information on the web is in the form of written language by companies.
Even if the site is beautifully designed, it’s no more than an empty frame without good content and a good website has both great design and great content.
The content should include various factors such as match the user expectations, should build trust; it should focus on micro copy, contact information and relevant images and videos in high quality.
- Simple Interactions
According to Hub spot survey, 76% of respondents mentioned ease of use as the most essential characteristic of a website. That’s why the “Keep It Simple” principle should play a primary role in the process of web design.
The design should include strong visual hierarchy, should cut out the noise, good navigation, and recognizable design patterns.
- Fast Loading Time
As technology enables faster experiences, users’ willingness for waiting has decreased. Slow loading time is one of the main reasons visitors abandon websites.
A typical user will only wait for a few seconds for page to load.
If nothing happens during this time, they will consider the site to be slow, and will most likely navigate away to another site. Slow loading not only creates a bad impression on users, but it also affects site’s search engine ranking, as slow-loading pages are reduced in rank in Google’s Search engine.
The brand should test their website, find what is slowing the loading of the site and fix the problem while creating a perception of speed so that the users do not leave the page.
- Feeling A Sense Of Control
A sense of control is one of the basic usability heuristics for user interface design. Effective interfaces install a sense of control in the users. The users feel more in control if there are no aggressive pushers, they have good error handling and the site does not have auto play video with sound.
- Good Visual Appearance
While there’s no direct connection between attractive design and conversion, visual appearance may increase chances for conversion. As Steven Bradley says, human beings have an attractiveness bias; they perceive beautiful things as being better, regardless of whether they actually are better.
All else being equal, they prefer beautiful things, and they believe beautiful things function better. A good looking website capitalizes on trends, and avoids generic stock images.
- Design Is Accessible To All Groups Of Users
A brand cannot call their design successful if their audience has trouble using it. There’s a direct connection between bad UX and inaccessibility and an example of design decisions that often create terrible UX for the sake of beauty is using light grey text on light backgrounds.
Insufficient colour contrast paired with small font size creates readability issues. The website the brand designs should be accessible to all groups of users including blind, disabled or the elderly.
- Memorable Design
Taking into account the fact that most businesses have an online presence, no matter what product or service the brand offers online, there are many other websites offering exactly what the brand does. It’s essential to set the website apart from the competition by crafting really memorable design.
Barbara Fredrickson and Daniel Kahneman proposed a psychological heuristic called the “peak-end rule” which dictates the way our brain works with information. The peak-end rule states that people judge an experience based mainly on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.
The effect occurs regardless of whether the experience is pleasant or unpleasant. In other words, when people remember experiences, they tend to not recall the entire experience but only key events that happened. Hence it’s essential to create a spark that will stay in a user’s memory for a long time.
A memorable design has a combination of colour, illustrations, brand consistency, and humour.
- Design Is Optimized For Mobile
Just a decade ago, designing for the web meant designing for a desktop, but now it also means designing for mobile and desktop. Mobile phones and tablets are driving an increasing amount of web traffic, and the numbers are only going to grow in the near future.
A good mobile design will prioritize content, features, and measure success.
Acquisition includes information about a website’s visitors i.e. how many people visit the site and how do they find it. Acquisition metrics include the number of gross visits, channels, and points of entrance.
Engagement measures the amount of time visitors stay on the brand’s website, as well as how many pages they visit.
Engagement metrics help UX teams comprehend how much attention visitors give to a website. Engagement metrics include time spent on the site, total number of pages visited during user session, and bounce.
There are two types of website visitors, first-time visitors and returning visitors. Retention is the percentage of return visitors that is people who continue visiting the brand’s website within a specific time frame.
When the team measures retention, it becomes much easier to distinguish new users from returning users, and, as a result, see how quickly user base is growing or stabilizing.
Retention can be distilled from the percentage of new sessions by comparing the percentage of new sessions versus returning visitors, the brand can determine if the website is attracting new visitors and whether it offers enough value so people return to it.
The majority of websites have a goal of getting visitors to convert, whether it is to purchase an item or sign up for a newsletter. That’s why conversion is the metric that everyone cares about the most as websites aim to maximize the number of people who convert.
Obviously, the higher the conversion rate, the better the brand’s website is doing. A conversion rate can tell the brand a lot about the quality of their traffic. For example, having a low conversion rate while having unique visits can be an indication that the brand is attracting the wrong traffic.
So, how does a brand know that their website is a success? As a product creator, the brand must first define what success means to them. For that, it’s always important to have a big picture in mind of what it is that the brand wants to achieve.
The next step would be to focus on metrics as the metrics will show the brand how a site changes over time. It will help the brand fill in the blanks between what has happened and why.