When you are starting your own website, you need to consider the theme and design so that you will attract the most interested visitors. This goes whether you are trying to build an online store, create a niche blog, or any other kind of website: the basic principles of design still hold. In this post, we’ll discuss the question of theme and design and introduce some best practices, as well as tie this into the subject of Drupal web hosting for those of you using that service.
The Importance of Simplicity
The most important task your web design has is to present information in a clear, simple manner to the visitor. It shouldn’t take any guesswork for them to know exactly where they are in your site and what the current page is meant to show them. It is easy to get distracted with fancy graphics and visuals. Indeed, many websites in the early to mid 2000s used these to catch people’s attention. But now visitors don’t want to be lost or confused just so that the site looks cool. Create a very clear, simple navigation bar that is always the same and always located on the same part of the page. Text fields need to be clear and easy to read. Don’t use too many typefaces, and make sure you are breaking up the text with subheads. Your pages need to have clear roles: every page should have a reason to exist, and that reason should be obvious to anyone who sees the page. All of this is useful because it ensures people can get to your site and find the information they need as quickly as possible. The more searching and hunting they have to do to find, for example, a particular blog post or a product description, the more likely they are to simply leave. This is not just good for readers, it’s also great for SEO. The more minimalist and easy to navigate your site is, the more both your readers and Google’s algorithm will like it.
Make It Easy
After making things simple and clear, the next step is to remove as many obstacles as possible. These might seem pointless at first, but this step can actually help you retain a lot of visitors. For example, redesign a page so that it does not require scrolling to show the most important info to the reader. As much as possible, remove buttons, intermediate pages, signup screens, and anything else that acts as a barrier. They do seem trivial to you, but each of them is going to be enough to cause a small percentage of your readership to decide that moving on is not worth it. That is a big risk, because in total it could add up to a lot of lost visitors, and every one of them counts. Assuming that you are trying to monetize your site in some way, it is important that you maximize the number of visitors reaching the most important pages and engaging with your site. If there are obstacles in the way of that, then you are reducing your potential income. If your site is too impenetrable, then your bounce rate will go up. The bounce rate is a measure of what percentage of readers only access one page of your site before leaving. If it is high, then that is a sign that your site is not interesting and easy enough for your demographic, and it will hurt your SEO outcomes. Google doesn’t want to direct people to a site when they clearly don’t want to spend time there. You’ll need to remove the barriers on your landing page and other points of entry to make the site easier to use.
Remember Mobile Users
By now, you have probably heard just how important mobile users are becoming, but the point is worth repeating. More than half of all global traffic comes from people using mobile devices. Of course, that does not mean that more than half of your target audience will be on mobile, but it is a good benchmark. Mobile users will experience your site quite differently, because they need to enter inputs with their fingertips or a stylus and they will be using a smaller screen. You need to make sure your theme will adapt accordingly. Do your fonts and pictures automatically resize when the site detects a mobile user? Do they also still look good at that smaller size? Do the pages load at appropriate speeds for a mobile browser? Do they consume a lot of data that might make mobile users averse to using the pages? There are a lot of special problems you need to tackle that will make the site much more inviting for mobile users. A good place to start is Google’s mobile responsiveness standard. This is a set of requirements that Google thinks makes a site work well for mobile users. If you can attain that standard, you will retain these visitors better and do much better on SEO, because mobile users will see your site first.
The bottom line is that there are always improvements you can make to streamline your site. Try to do everything possible from the perspective of the visitor. There is a lot more in design that is important beyond these points, such as social media integration, but this is meant as an introduction. Read more about this topic and think about how you should select your Drupal web hosting based on the needs of your site and its design.