Aesthetics and functionality are not enough. Visitors are there to obtain information, to consume content, which not only needs to be interesting and appealing, but adhere to best practices in terms of basic web design.
If users can’t understand what the website is trying to convey, they won’t engage actively. Content needs to be written clearly, with a mix of text and visuals, with an eye to informing, educating, or entertaining.
Another important factor to consider is how whitespace will be used. Proper use of the space between columns, paragraphs, and lines makes it easier for people to digest the information provided, and it makes the entire website look cleaner and more organized.
Compliance is a topic that holds a very strict relationship with location, both for users and in terms of the country the business operates from.
There are two main pieces of legislation that address the most common issues surrounding compliance:
The General Data Protection Regulation: This piece of legislation comes from the European Union, but it has ramifications across the globe. Enforced as of 2018, it regulates the use and management of data acquired from individuals in the EU. This includes websites. The GDPR is meant to protect people, their privacy and their data from third parties who may wish to profit from it without consent.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act: The ADA is a comprehensive piece of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities “have the same opportunities to participate in the mainstream of American life”. With the globalization of the internet, doors opened up to a whole new universe of regulations, specifically under the ADA's Title III, which protects against discrimination on the basis of disability in public accommodations and commercial facilities. This includes business websites.
Adopting web accessibility best practices on the website or ensuring those in place are working properly shields your business against legal action.
There are a variety of disabilities businesses need to take into account:
ADA compliance is based on current WCAG 2 standards, which set basic guidelines on web design and structure in order for websites to be fully and properly functional.
In both these cases, companies need to get legal counsel so designers can implement the necessary best practices and ensure compliance.
In order to protect an existing website, audits are important tools for web designers to find and fix any compliance issues.
Companies need websites that observe best practices in order to ensure steady, growing traffic.
At the turn of the new century, Stanford University carried out extensive research to elaborate a set of basic guidelines that still hold up today. In general terms, they found these very easy rules of thumb:
- Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.
- Show that there's a real organization behind your site.
- Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.
- Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
- Make it easy to contact you.
- Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
- Make your site easy to use -- and useful.
- Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).
- Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).
- Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem
When in doubt, look to these basic and ageless principles to ensure your website is top-notch and optimized for solid lead conversion.