It’s a new year. A natural point for a fresh start. Many of us are happy to leave 2020 in the rearview mirror and look ahead. Perhaps you’re considering a refresh for your website as well. After all, with internet usage at an all-time high, your company’s website is now a key factor in your sales.

Whether you’re building a new site or updating a current one, planning is key. Wondering how to avoid common mistakes and make certain your site is following best practices? We’ve worked with hundreds of clients. We’ve seen it all. Here are some of your most common web development questions – answered by the experts.

Where do we start?

The natural inclination for many is to go immediately to execution. You’ll get better results if you spend some time planning before jumping into design and development. A good website starts first with solid messaging. Who is your target audience? What type of client do you want to attract? Every word, image, and video on your site should work together to clearly convey your message. Users should know within seconds who you are and what you do.

What separates an “average” website from a great website?

One of the biggest mistakes we see is a lack of consistency across a site. You’d be amazed at how the little things can add up. Even with differences in layout, each page should remain consistent with the rest of the site. All headings should be the same size, color, and font across pages. Padding should remain consistent. The “look and feel” of each section should flow seamlessly from one to the next.

Even minor changes across a site can degrade the user experience. Consistency ensures your visitors see your best side. When adding new pages or reworking existing content, keep the same branding and styling. This provides a much more professional, polished website experience.

How should we structure the menu/navigation?

Website navigation is not a site map. Your main menu doesn’t need to contain links to every page on your site. Instead, think of your navigation as a way to funnel users to the content they seek. Stick to simple, intuitive main levels and use no more than 4-6 items. Mega menus provide a clear way for users to find what they want. Make sure expected links (like terms of use, privacy policies, and contact information) appear in the footer for easy access.

Should we use hero sliders?

Ah, the infamous image slider. We see them across much of the web, so they must be a good idea, right? Wrong! Actually, data shows that users rarely interact with sliders. Many only see the first slide. Conversion rates on sliders are very low. Many sliders also have accessibility issues. Instead of adding a slider to the banner section of your website, consider more effective designs. Images or videos with a clear call to action perform much better. Animation and transition effects can provide movement and interest. Improve the usage of your valuable above-the-fold real estate by eliminating sliders.

What is the best way to present content?

Remember the messaging we discussed earlier? The best messaging in the world won’t help if no one reads it. Keep your content clear, simple, and short. Headlines should be catchy and contain 10 words or less. Use whitespace and padding to your advantage. Think of your website as a vehicle for visual storytelling, rather than “pages of content”. When possible, use imagery or illustrations to convey your message. Graphics can convey a lot of information in a single image. This can be more effective than text.

How do we drive users to our conversion points?

Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to become leads. Your calls to actions (CTAs) should be bold and clear. CTAs should catch the user’s eye within 2-3 seconds at most. You want to lead people to your endpoint. Place them where users are most likely to see them. Don’t overwhelm visitors with CTAs. Providing people with too many ways to convert is more likely to have the opposite effect.

Potential Leads Image

What is the best way to capture potential leads?

You most likely use forms of some sort on your website. While forms are fine, they aren’t the only way to capture potential leads. Consider using a chatbot to increase conversions and encourage visitors to engage. A solution like Drift, for example, can automatically direct a user to the correct solution and notify your sales team. The response is immediate for the user. This increases your likelihood of that lead converting. There is a reason that over 65% of marketing leaders use some sort of marketing automation platform. It works.

Should we have a mobile version of the site?

Surprisingly, the short answer to this question is “no”. You should not have a specific mobile version, because your site should be built with a “mobile-first” model. Not only are 50% of B2B inquiries made via mobile now, but responsiveness also heavily affects SEO rankings.

Reverse the old thinking of designing for desktop and then optimizing for mobile. Mobile-first design means your site looks consistent regardless of screen size or platform. It starts by loading the mobile assets. Larger, more complicated elements are only loaded as the screen size increases. This improves your load time on smaller screens. And your users still see the consistent experience you want, no matter what device they use.

When developing your website, keep the big picture in mind. Your goal is to provide information quickly, easily, and drive people to contact you for details. Consider your users and their search intent. Then, make it easy for them to find and digest your content. Focus on your audience and what you want to convey. Make sure your development partner is focusing as much on your strategy as they are on the code. If you’re not sure where to start, we’d love to help you develop your digital strategy.