This article for Website Design Tips & Social Media Guide 2013, was part of the iGB Affiliate magazine for August/September 2013 issue.
There is always constant change in design and technology and to some it might seem like the rate of change is too great. For some websites it seems like the need to redesign and update becomes time consuming and sometimes expensive in having to redesign and reprogram as well. If your website was built in 2011, it might even be considered obsolete right now.
In the past few years lets look at some of the changes in technology and how it has affected the way people use and interact with websites.
- Mobile traffic
- Tablet/iPad users
- Google Panda updates
- Rich Snippets & Microdata
- Social Media
Finding a graphic designer to make you a website isn’t a problem at all but finding one that knows how to properly integrate all of these changes into making an effective website can be. Within the website design industry some might have noticed the acronyms UI or UX which stands for User Interface
and User Experience
. This refers to the design and it is more than just creating an effective menu and navigation system for your users.
So what can you expect from standard website designs, templates and most graphic designers?
Most websites are not ready for mobile websites
. It is getting easier to format websites for responsive design but not all designers are there yet. Some designs have duplicate content built into the design. Rich snippets is at least something that is easy to update in the code but still needs to be planned. Last but not least is social media which is probably more important than people realize. Most designers know social media is “in” so they naturally throw the popular social media sites as icons into the website and it’s done, now you have a website with social media. Most new webmasters usually don’t understand how social media
is supposed to be utilized in a website and many webmasters are adding it with no real strategy on how to integrate it into their marketing.
[caption id="attachment_4833" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Left: Responsive Design, Right: Old Version"]
Before we dig deeper into proper social media integration into a website lets look at all of the elements that are important not only for design but planning a new website.
Most websites are not mobile friendly at all, that is they are not formatted for responsive design or they don’t have a separate mobile version of the website. With mobile phone sales expected to double PC sales in 2014, how can you not have your website ready for mobile. If your site isn’t mobile friendly then you will be missing out on traffic and sales. If mobile users can’t get their information and entertainment from your website on their mobile phone, they’ll find it from another website.
As for iPad and tablet users
, they are a different market to deal with but you at least want to test to make sure your website formats well for these devices and is readable and functional.
Google Panda Updates
Since most designers don’t know much about SEO, usually their designs have more emphasis on the visual aspects of the site and they see text as being boring. If you are working with these types of designers your job is to make sure that you have text and content on every page of your website, or at least every page that matters to you. Also another problem some designers can make and is no fault of their own, is by embedding duplicate content into the design. That is every page contains a section that has the same text on every page. In some cases this makes sense as perhaps at the end of the pages you need to have a call to action (CTA) to try to lead the user to a sale. If there is too much of this repeating text on every page then this is duplicate content on your own site and isn’t helpful for SEO. This can also be a sign of lazy design as a means of making the designs complete on all pages whereas to customize more pages requires more work and usually more money.
You can learn more about the panda update here:
So what does website design & google panda have to do with each other?
update was specifically meant to target websites that are weak or ‘thin’ on content. So if your website designer has given you a beautifully looking landing page but left no real section for content & text, well this is going to create a problem. In some cases landing pages are extremely important and are almost impossible to inject much text into them. The simple solution to this problem is to provide the content and text below the landing page elements.
Rich Snippets & Microdata
This aspect of your website is usually not the responsibility of the designer unless they are coding the website for you as well. If this is the case then you’ll want to ensure your website has the edge on your competition. An easy way to generate more traffic is with adding rich snippets which increases the click through rates of your rankings in the search engine. How can you add rich snippets / microdata into your website code to appear in the search engines?
- 5 or 10 Star Ratings
- Image / Product thumbnail
- Video thumbnail
Many of the top gambling portals have some form of rich snippets in their site. The most common one is the star ratings and people should expect to see a rise in authorship if google starts rewarding websites that have authors displayed on their website. The theory is authorship implies quality and quality sites will have an easier time ranking.
One example showing authorship:
When people in this industry say ‘I don’t get social media’ well I don’t blame them. Some websites probably need social media less than others. Either way social media will forever affect website designs and can’t be ignored anymore.
How does social media relate to your website?
- Social signals affect SEO
- Drive social traffic to your websites & Sharing
- Communication & Support
These are a lot of bullet points but lets break them down one by one and explain how they should work with your website design and user experience. After we’ll explain how websites incorrectly use social media. Many website are adding social media for no reason at all other than because others are doing it. Well you have at least probably made the right decision and you just need to understand why.
Social Signals affect SEO
According to a recent article from SearchMetrics.com, social signals are proven to influence your rankings. Many SEOs are all stating this the question is not whether social media affects SEO but rather how much does it affect seo. Why would social media affect your ranking efforts? Most social media sites are nofollow links while some can be follow. No matter how you look at it, it is a form of link building. Some links on google+ appear to be follow and it could be a reason some webmasters might want to focus more on google+ and less on facebook.
Drive social traffic to your websites & Sharing
Aside from some possible SEO benefits, try to look at social media as traffic opportunities. Sites like facebook, twitter, google+, youtube, pinterest, there are so many people on these networks and they are also search engines too. When people like and share your pages and content, this creates more opportunities for people to stumbleupon (pun intended) your website.
Retention is huge and this should have probably been called RETENTION
instead. If email marketing is such a valuable tool then you have to consider all other social networks that allow people to follow you or your brand. Many websites try really hard to get someone to join their newsletter and it can actually be difficult, but asking someone to like their facebook page is just a single click. That single click now have them following your facebook feed and gives you a chance to get your message out to them. The same goes for twitter, google+ and many more. Getting someone to like or follow you is going to be easier to do and it allows you to message this customer as not all of them are going to bookmark your website or remember it. Even if you do get their email, you then have to worry about if your emails are making it through spam filters, which you don’t have this problem with facebook. So when you have new products and services to launch it is only natural that you would first write about it, then email your newsletter subscribers, then share it on social media sites.
So when you think of social media, think about retention. Facebook likes and twitter follows are now more than just bragging rights for # of followers. They are social signals that can be used as ranking factors and you have given yourself a chance to contact them again.
Communication & Support
Social media sites are communication tools. Many many years ago your business communication tools were telephone, mail, fax machine. Then Al Gore invented the internet and we added email. Now we have skype, WhatsApp, Viber, all types of mobile phone chat apps and social media which can act both like private emailing and public emailing. You can do business all over these tools with your customers. In the past newspapers (paper news) had all of the media power and could either advertise a brand or write a bad story about them so their public relations were easier to handle. Now a single person can leave a negative comment about your brand that can be viewed and shared by many. These issues are nearly impossible to ignore and gives power back to the customers. So you can add brand management and reputation to one of the purposes of social media.
How websites incorrectly use social media
It is easier for both designers and webmasters to misuse social media sites as the buttons and features offered are getting more customized and complex every day. The standard features are typically to follow them on social media and to like and share one of their pages specifically. Some common misuses of social media:
- Sharing buttons on all pages
- Social media buttons only link to profile pages
- Social media conflicting with calls to action
1. Every page doesn’t need a social sharing button. Typically you would have this for blog posts or content that you really want people to share but some pages were never meant for sharing.
2. Some websites they only link to their social media page like facebook for example. This can be a mistake where you are taking the user away from your site and adding another step if they really wanted to like and follow your page. Use your social media buttons wisely, try to get them to like or follow your pages but keep them away from facebook otherwise you’ll probably get them playing Candy Crush and then they have totally forgotten about your site and not even followed you.
3. Try to remember you have calls to action you need to address on every page. You do want people to like, follow or share your content but if there is a sale to be made or something you want the user to do, don’t ruin the conversion process by sending your ADD users back to facebook to play Candy Crush.
So in short, planning a new website out is a lot of work if you want to try to do it as best as possible. If you focus on conversions and calls to action then the rest should fall into place.