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A website isn’t made or broken by its visuals — it succeeds or fails strictly on how simple it is to use and how useful it is in general. Witness: Craigslist. And because your list of end users is “everyone with a web-capable device of any kind”, user-oriented web design means creating a web page that is easy before all else.
Clean Design: Usability Comes First
In order to build an easy website, you have to start by getting into the skulls of your potential users. Think about how you surf the web. Do you read everything in detail? If you’re like most people, you don’t — you skim, find something that looks interesting or useful, and click on it. Then you scan the next page and make a 3-second-ish decision about whether to click “Back”, click the next interesting/useful looking thing, or settle down into “I Have Found Something Usable” mode where you start actually absorbing the content and/or using the tool. If you make something difficult to grasp during that three-second window, you guarantee that a big chunk of your visitors will bounce.
Clean Code: Search Engines Are Your Friend
All that said, if your web page is so user-oriented that a search engine’s spider can’t crawl it and make sense of it, you’re never going to get ranked. So coding to help the spiders understand what your website is about is of paramount importance. Toward that end, here’s a few tips:
-Spiders can’t see images: If you have an image that describes something important about your site’s topic, use the title and alt tags to fill in the gap for the spiders.
-Spiders don’t have brains: They surf more or less randomly with a few exceptions — one of which is their instructions to go to and fully explore any site map they’re given. Make sure your site has a site map and that your robots.txt file has the line site map: http:/www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml.
It is important to note that SEO hosting with a dedicated Class-C IP address will also improve a website’s overall SERP ranking.
Quality Content: The Fuel That Drives Success
Of course, the most usable website with the cleanest code is still dead in the water if you don’t give visitors a reason to stick around. Whether it’s a killer app or some critical information, the only thing that makes visitors stop surfing and start using is quality content. In fact, if your content is of high enough quality, you can even get away with some not-so-user-friendly elements like front-page advertising. Witness: FAILblog.
Clear Imagery: Sinking the Hook on the First Tug
The human eye is exactly nothing like a Google spider bot. When a human looks at a website for the first time, they don’t start in the upper left and go down and to the right. (In general, they start on the middle left, and go up and to the right.) Human eyes also don’t naturally focus on text (at first). They focus on whatever the most obvious visual element of the page might be. If it happens to be a striking image that explains a lot about the page’s subject matter, you win!
If you don’t have the ability to make an image of your own, finding high-quality stock photos or stock videos should be high on your priority list. That perfect picture is the easiest way to beat that 3-second window and convince your surfer to stick around and read the rest of your content.
Clean code is the engine. Clean design is the oil. Clear imagery is the spark plug that ignites interest. Quality content is the gasoline that drives everything forward. Skip one, and your ‘vehicle’ breaks down. Unite them all, and your site takes off with fully engaged visitors that will become regular users and customers.