What to keep in mind when designing a new website

by Leanne Kalf & Anne Stubbs - HiRUM Software Solutions 1st of October, 2021

What to keep in mind when designing a new website
© MclittleStock / Adobe Stock

Good website design and effective digital marketing aren’t incompatible. Building an uncluttered, great looking website is just the first step in building your online visibility. However, being too sparse with your content can harm how well your website ranks on search engines like Google. What use is a stunning website if no one can actually find it or the user can't instantly find the information they're looking for?

The good news is, it is possible to balance elegance with search engine friendly requirements.

One key thing to remember is that while a visually appealing and creative website might initially catch a visitor’s eye, people are usually there to find information. When it comes to search engines, the text is still the most easily understood element of a webpage. Anything that is not text or is produced in non-HTML code is ignored by search engines or spiders. So, if your website uses a lot of animation, graphics or JavaScript it is unlikely to rank well in Google's search results.

Instead, use text in place of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler can't recognise text contained within an image. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the ALT attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.

A fundamental principle of good marketing is to understand your target audience. To strike a good balance between website design and content, put yourself in your target customers shoes and ask yourself what you would want to know most when visiting each of your web pages. Then make sure you’ve included that information and it’s easy to find. This includes using language and terms that your potential customers will understand and avoiding "industry jargon".

Website content includes everything from text, images, animations and graphics. These all play a part in informing and engaging visitors through the customer journey to take action and become a customer. When you’re considering what content needs to be on your website you need to consider each phase of the customer journey. 

You shouldn’t assume that your website visitors are already familiar with your brand or what you do. It’s worth conducting some keyword research to find out what terms are most related to the content on your web pages.

It all comes down to user experience and web design needs to work in tandem with SEO techniques to ensure users find what they are looking for. 

Top tips to help you strike the right balance between great design and search engine friendliness:

  • Use a responsive design that's optimised for mobile, as well as desktop and tablets
  • Apply a combination of quality content and amazing visuals
  • Make sure your high-level messaging structure is strong and includes relevant keywords. Use headings, subheadings, anchor text, internal links, and CTAs (calls to action)
  • Implement as many on-page SEO elements as possible. Including, title tags, H1 (Heading 1) tags, meta descriptions, and image alt tags to ensure Google understands as much as possible about your webpage
  • Use links on your web pages with relevant anchor text that take you to another page on your site (maybe a blog page that offers more information on that topic). However, avoid using ‘click here’ as anchor text as it's hard for Google to understand the topic of the content you are linking to
  • Use clean, simple navigation structures that make it easy for users to find what they're looking for. If your website is well established with duplicate or old, outdated content, remove it, or redirect it to the most up to date, relevant webpage
  • Use blog pages to create longer-form content that supports your main website pages and add additional linking between different blogs and main pages
  • Keep track of important metrics using free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. As a minimum, you should be monitoring metrics such as your page traffic and bounce rate
  • Ensure your website speed is fast. A slow website kills user engagement and experience and is now a vital metric that Google uses to determine whether your website is worthy of ranking. Websites that use a lot of images and graphics generally tend to be slower. Tools like GTMetrix are great for showing your website speed and what you can do to improve it
  • Avoid intrusive pop-ups on your web pages. Not only are they annoying to most users, who immediately click the ‘close’ button, but Google is now penalising websites that use them excessively. If you must use them, make them unobstructive, relevant and make clear what value they are offering to the user.

To help you achieve the right balance in your website design and content, it is always worth getting the advice of a digital marketing expert. SEO-focused web design is the key to building your online visibility and credibility. Applying these tactics will ensure you have a website that not only looks great but ranks well and builds your bottom line.

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