No matter how good your website is, it can probably be better. At Boston’s Content Marketing Conference (CMC) in April, I sat down with a few experts to get their top tips on website optimization. Here’s some of what they had to say.
1. Make scrollable content instead of clickable content
In today’s ongoing mobile revolution, website visitors are scrolling more – and, given their druthers, clicking less.
“It’s just way too much work to ask people to aim. If you have to click on something, you have to aim at it with your finger or your mouse,” Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director of Orbit Media Studios, says. “People don’t want to aim. People want to scroll. They want to slide. They just want their finger to move across a piece of glass and they keep going down in one direction.”
2. There’s probably no such thing as too long a page
“The better sites are just building taller pages where there’s no need to click,” Crestodina continues. “I’ve never seen a study that ever found that there was a point at which a page was too tall.”
Justin Rondeau, Director of Optimization for DigitalMarketer, adds that “tall” pages can be enriched to appeal to different buyer personas.
“You’ll have the people who are most ready to buy,” says Rondeau, “but as you build out more rich content and more ways to persuade maybe the more skeptical type, that’s [where] the long form starts working out well.”
3. Don’t overdesign
Some websites are too “heavily” designed – leading to a variety of problems. When the page is overburdened with too many large images, full-background video, or other “heavy” multimedia, for instance, page speed – a known search-ranking factor – plummets.
“[When] the code-to-content ratio [is] way off, that’s a disadvantage in SEO,” says Crestodina. “No matter what the designer does forever after, they’re driving a sluggish car because the designer made a page that was just so bloated that it was never going to be the ideal for Google – which is looking for fast presentation of clear information.”
4. Remember the user
Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, emphatically warned against a different style of overdesign – and for different reasons; even when overwrought design does not present a technical problem, it can still create a UX problem.
“There’s the designer who wants to win an award,” says Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, when I ask him in a separate conversation about UX mistakes he sees. “And so they create this big white space kind of site with tiny, tiny little text because somewhere along the lines they were taught that’s what you do… Sites that appease a discipline like SEO or design – and not customers.”
Both Odden and Crestodina concur that those involved in the creation or design of web content must think of the user – and his or her experience – in order to do their jobs properly. Crestodina goes so far as to say that he is unable to make “responsible” improvements or suggestions without putting himself in the user’s shoes and understanding their user journey.
“It’s all a context; it’s all empathy,” says Crestodina. “Look at your top pages and their top traffic sources, and then pretend that you’re the person who came to that page from that traffic source – and now think about it. Now look at the page critically.”