9 Important Elements of a High Quality Website

Here is a visual look at the 9 important elements of a high quality website (extract appears below).

 

Your website is your main identity on the Internet.

High Quality Website

As you design (or redesign) your website, pay particular attention to the following items:

Extract from the Infographic:

  1. Quality Content
    1. Don’t scrimp when it comes to content. Quality content is one of the most important elements of your website or blog. So make sure your content is stellar!
    2. Good content is meaningful, relevant and useful for your users, educates them and invites sharing and leads to discussions.
    3. Search Engines can differentiate between content written for humans and search engines so make sure you write for users and not for search engines.
  2. Typos & Grammar
    1. Typos and poor grammar are known to turn off visitors to your website so check your writing thoroughly before publishing content.
    2. Use tools such as spell checkers and grammar checkers and make sure your content has no spelling errors or grammatical errors.
    3. Search Engines are smart enough to detect spelling and grammar mistakes and are known to penalize websites with such mistakes.
  3. Readability & Formatting
    1. Visitors to your website or blog will be turned away by poor readability or improperly formatted content so follow properly guidelines for both.
    2. Keep your material succinct and clear. Use short sentences to make your points. Use text formatting to highlight essential information and make your material easy to read.
    3. We tend to scan content rather than read so format your content properly. Use lists, bullet points, and white space to lay out your material so it is easy to scan and read.
  4. Visual Elements
    1. A picture is still worth a thousand words! And we say that if a picture is worth a thousand words then a video must be worth a hundred thousand words!
    2. Articles & web pages with images & other visual elements lead to higher engagement & social sharing.
    3. Websites with more visual elements rank higher – web pages with more than 5 images tend to get a rank boost.
  5. Ease of Navigation
    1. Make sure your website is easy to navigate. Use a simple but effective menu structure that is easy to use and work with.
    2. Website visitors should be able to find what they are looking for without having to hunt around or click multiple times.
    3. Websites that have overly complex menu structures or unclear internal linking will turn visitors away pretty quickly.
  6. Link Structure
    1. Pay special attention to your internal and external links. In fact, 90% of the sites that rank in the top 3 positions use at least one internal self-referencing link.
    2. Maintain link relevance at all times. Search engines have become so sophisticated that they can detect non-relevant links and these can lead to penalties!
    3. Don’t be afraid of linking to relevant external content. In fact, such links are considered very valuable by your readers and help you build more engagement.
  7. Social Sharing
    1. Search Engines use social sharing as a ranking signal. A higher number of shares can lead to a higher placement on search results.
    2. Make sure your web pages, blog & articles have clearly visible social media icons that allow people to share your material at a click.
    3. Good quality content tends to be shared more, shared often and shared more frequently.
  8. Mobile Friendliness
    1. Mobile Internet users have overtaken desktop (or traditional) Internet users so you need to ensure that your website is 100% mobile device friendly.
    2. Users don’t like cut-off or shrunk down websites on a small screen where they have to zoom-in and zoom-out and scroll around excessively.
    3. In fact, in April 2015, Google announced that they will lower the rank of any websites that are not mobile device friendly.
  9. Loading Speed
    1. It used to be said that “patience is a virtue” but that no longer holds true! Today’s website visitors have little patience for slow performing websites as do search engines!
    2. Check your website using commonly available tools such as Google’s Pagespeed Insights, Yahoo’s Y!Slow, Pingdom and other tools to see how fast it loads.
    3. Optimize your website so it performs well. Fast loading websites can get a search rank boost and poorly performing websites can get dinged, especially by Google.

Sources
www.forbes.com
www.fastcompany.com
www.moz.com
www.searchengineland.com
www.youtube.com
www.arnimadesign.com
www.positionly.com
www.grammarly.com
http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/
www.pingdom.com
www.yslow.org
www.kissmetrics.com
http://blog.google.com

 

 

 

 

 

11 Questions to ask your Prospective Web Design and Development Company – Part 2

11 Questions to ask your Prospective Web Design and Development Company - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we covered the first 5 questions that you should ask your prospective web design company. Now, in Part 2, we cover the remaining 6 questions.

6. Do you have a formal design & development process?
A well-outlined and formal web design & development process will indicate that a company has invested the time and effort into processes which means that they are serious about what they do. It will also allow you to determine their level of expertise. In fact, beware of a company that does not have a formal process in place. Well established companies will also educate you as to your roles and responsibilities and what feedback and input would be required from you during the project.

7. How do you handle changes?
A proper change management process is essential. Let’s face it; at some point in time, your website will need changes or updates. A properly implemented change management mechanism is important as it will ensure that the changes are
(a) properly reported
(b) actually implemented
(c) reported back to you and
(d) tested to make sure all works well.

You will also need to find out what types of maintenance options are provided and what the associated charges are.

8. What types of technologies do you work with?
The answer to this question is critical. Given the ever-evolving nature of technology, companies must make the effort to keep up with the times. A good web design & development company will be able to work in ASP.NET, ASP, PHP, AJAX and various scripting languages such as JavaScript and VBScript. They should also have significant expertise in database technologies such as Microsoft SQL Server, mySQL, Oracle, Microsoft Access. In terms of design tools, look for names such as Adobe, Microsoft and other recognizable companies that put out serious design & development tools

9.  Do you provide website hosting services?
Get a clear answer. If a company provides in-house hosting, at the very least, make sure that they are not hosting your mission critical website on a server in their basement, or in their office. If they outsource, make sure that you know what SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are in place and where the hosting company is located.

10. Who owns the website code after work is completed?
If you are spending several thousands of dollars on your website, there is only one acceptable answer. You as the client will own the website, the code, media and all content.  If your website uses components such as a content management system, or a shopping cart system, be sure to find out about the licensing and ownership.

11. How do you charge?
There are 2 ways for a web design & development company. They can charge you for time, i.e. by the hour, day, week or month. Or they can charge you a fixed amount for your project. Bear in mind that in order to establish a fixed cost, the requirements and specifications have to be very clearly laid out. In fact, most web projects can be estimated fairly accurately if a given company has the experience in the industry. If a company is unwilling to give you a fixed cost for a project, it is advisable to be careful…time-based billing can get ridiculously expensive.

11 Questions to ask your Prospective Web Design and Development Company – Part 1

11 Questions to ask your Prospective Web Design and Development Company

In part 1, we will cover the first 5 questions to ask your prospective web design and development company. This will be followed by the second part where we will cover the remaining 6 questions.

1. Why should I hire your company and not a freelance web designer?
It depends. Whilst independent web designers, some of whom are extremely good, have a lot to offer, be sure to consider that a web design & development company will have in place, at the very least, the following:
(a) robust design, development and test processes
(b) access to the knowledge and expertise of an entire team of highly-qualified individuals
(c) a proper quality assurance mechanism
(d) access to large library of tools and components
(e) the ability to collectively solve problems and brainstorm as a team.

2. How long has your company been in business?
There is no hard and fast rule here. It ultimately depends on your comfort level, and, equally importantly on the cost factors. You may be comfortable working with a startup, or with a company without much experience, however, be sure to give this due consideration. Bear in mind if a company has been around for a long time, chances are they know what they are doing and thus they may be worth considering.

3. Can you show us samples of your work?
A good web design & development company should have a varied portfolio and this portfolio should illustrate their capabilities. A few important things to watch for: creativity, uniqueness of design, streamlined navigation and how well the design represents a brand.

4. Can you provide client testimonials?
Well established web presence companies will be happy to provide you with a list of satisfied clients. In fact, most of them would also make this list of testimonials available on their websites. If a company is unable to supply you with testimonials, or is unwilling to supply them, it should raise a red flag.

5. How experienced is your team?
A proper team structure will ensure that your project is handled in a professional fashion. A proper team structure indicates that a company has spent time and effort into cultivating a team culture. Any company that is serious about what they do will be happy to have you go to their offices and meet with their staff. If a company balks at a face-to-face meeting, well, you get the hint.

Landing Pages vs Microsites

Arnima-Landing-Pages-vs-Microsites

Landing Pages vs Microsites

While they are different from one another, microsites and landing pages are both used in conjunction with search engine optimization, search engine marketing and online advertising for more targeted content. Here is a short look at landing pages vs microsites.

Landing Pages
Landing pages are usually one-page creations that focus on a particular offer and specifically on leading the visitor to take certain action. Landing pages are used for direct marketing campaigns and are considered to be essential to the success of these campaigns. All savvy marketers use and test hundreds of different landing pages in order to optimize conversion rates.

Microsites
Microsites are one or more Web pages used for a number of purposes:

-Consumer goods companies may want market new products, because the main website may leave the product underexposed; a microsite will focus on that particular product or service and provide extensive details and information.

-A magazine may want cover time-sensitive and popular events, such as the upcoming presidential election or some world championship and may leverage a microsite.

-A software company may offer its clients more information on a product, which cannot be posted on a simple landing page and adding several pages to its main website would mean burying the information and relying on visitors to feel their way through to the specific information.

In most cases, microsites and landing pages are created to convert visitors into leads. A Microsite also results in increased SEO opportunities.  Microsites are typically hosted on a different domain than the primary website and contain sometimes multiple pages of topic-related content for high organic search rankings. Most savvy marketers tend to use both microsites and landing pages somewhere along the way. And if microsites are hosting on multiple-C IPs (SEO-hosting), the results can be even more considerable.

Custom vs Template Website Design

 

Arnima-Custom-website-design-vs

The visual design of your website is what separates you from your competition. To attract more visitors, your website needs stand out from the rest and needs to be attractive, uncluttered, easy to navigate and simple to understand. Here is a quick look at custom vs template website design:

You can have your website built from the ground up or you can buy a pre-made website template and use it as it is, or you can have this template customized to give it a more original and distinct look. Bear in mind that there are limitations to the extent of customization for a pre-made website template.

Differences between a custom web design and a template design

A custom website is designed from the ground up for a unique look and feel and is created with meaningful and pertinent content. It is is built after a significant amount of research and analysis to suit branding and business requirements.

A template-based website is generally built using a pre-made website template package that has most of the common pages already designed. Website templates are created using preset backgrounds, banners, main navigation links and masthead areas. In theory, you just need to add content and your website is ready. In reality, it is not as simple as this.

You can liken a template-based website to a pre-fabricated house and a custom designed website to a properly architected and constructed home. Furthermore, a pre-made website template is generally used for multiple websites so the creators of the template can offset their investment in building the template. A custom designed website is unique in its look and feel

If you are lucky enough to find a template that suits your business style and image and if your content fits the template, then a template-based website can be an economical choice.

A custom designed website usually costs significantly more than a template – mainly because it is specifically built to your requirements and make your web presence unique.