2020 Digital Marketing Insights on How to Design Your Website
Without a website, you’re invisible to your audience. No matter what industry or niche you occupy, and no matter the size or age of your business, there is no substitute for having a website. Your audience expects to find you online with a Google search, and if you’re not listed, they’ll happily pass you over in favour of a competitor more willing to keep up with modern trends.
However, not just any website will do. Website design has evolved a great deal in the last few years, and Google’s requirements now reach all the way down into your site’s DNA. Not to mention the fact that in 2020, digital marketing tactics and techniques can be used to offer greater traction, improve visibility, draw in more traffic, and tell your story the way it should be told.
Your website can be used to inspire, to build brand recognition, to ensure that you’re visible to your customers or clients in the SERPs, and more. However, you need to ensure that you’re going about things the right way. It’s vital that you incorporate 2020 digital marketing insights into your website design in order to maximise its value to your business and to your audience, as well as to ensure that you rank appropriately in organic search, and more.
In this guide, we’ll explore 27 of the most critical tips that you should know if you’re about to embark on a new website design or the redesign of an existing digital property.
- Simple and Easy to Navigate: One of the most important insights to incorporate into your website design plans for 2020 is the shift toward simple designs that are easy to navigate. Your website shouldn’t be cluttered with dozens of links that are all jumbled together. Visitors should not struggle to move from page to page.
If a customer has to pause when they reach your homepage and figure out how to find the content that they want, you’ve already lost them. In an age when online competition is at its peak, you cannot afford to make basic mistakes. Shoot for a simple design that fosters ease of navigation and access to whatever it is that your customers came to find.
- Responsive Design: By this point, this tip should be a no-brainer, but a surprising number of companies fail to grasp the import of mobile Internet access. Access to the Internet from smartphones officially outranked access from desktops back in 2018. In 2020 and beyond, you can expect mobile to dominate. This means you need to ensure that your website looks great to people seeing it on a wide-screen computer monitor, but also on a small device’s screen.
Responsive design technology allows your website to automatically detect the device and screen size in question for each individual visitor, and then automatically resize and reorder content to suit. It’s about personalisation and delivering the best possible user experience, both of which are things we’ll touch on farther down the list.
- Behavioural Intelligence Based: What do your visitors do when they reach your website? What pages do they spend the most time on? Which ones do they pass over? Where do they bounce out? What links do they click? How far down the page do they scroll?
These are all examples of user behaviour, and it should be one of the core considerations when it comes to website design and optimisation in 2020 and beyond. It’s all about studying the body language of your visitors and what it means to your business. By using behavioural intelligence to help inform website design, layout, and content creation, you can begin to deliver more value to your visitors, increase visit time, and help improve the customer journey.
- Focused on User Experience: User experience – it’s fast becoming the holy grail of website design. Everything about your website should be based, not around your brand, your product, or your service, but around your users. When someone visits your website, they should have a positive experience.
Navigability, content quality and relevance, layout and design, colour choices, fonts and font sizes – these all play into the experience that your users have with your website. Not only does a positive user experience increase the chances that a specific customer will spend more time on your site or return for a second visit, but it also affects your ranking in the SERPs, as Google considers this when indexing your site and ranking it organically.
- Business Strategy Focused Design: Whether you’re designing your first website, or you want to reinvigorate an aging digital property, it’s critical that your design efforts are based on your business strategy. This will require that you dig deep into what you want to accomplish and shift your view of a business website from a “nice to have digital asset” to a core driver of business success.
This applies not just to your product pages, your service descriptions, or other individual elements, but to your website as a whole. It is a representation of your brand in the digital space. As such, each page is as critical as any other and should support your business strategy in every way possible.
- Dynamic Content Personalisation: Personalisation has been one of the most critical rules to follow for online success for quite some time. However, in 2020 and beyond, you need to change things up, literally. When a visitor lands on your website, and they have interacted with your brand in the past, you can (and should) deliver content personalised to their unique journey. How might that work? Here are a few examples, but there are so many other options:
- If someone has previously downloaded an ebook, whitepaper, or report, you can show them content specific to their experience.
- If someone has visited the website before, you can help them return to where they left off.
- If someone has signed up for your email list, you can deliver content specific to their user journey.
- A Focus on Minimalism: In 2020 and beyond, website minimalism will be the norm. What does that mean, though? Really, it just means doing more with less on your pages. Rather than filling all that digital real estate with graphics or links, leave white space (or dark space if you’re following the Dark Mode trend). Minimalist websites are clean, free of clutter, and lend themselves well to a smooth, positive user experience.
- Incorporation of Video Content Beyond the Norm: Video content can be incredibly powerful, but to really make the most of it, you will need to go beyond the norm. Yes, you can certainly still create explainer videos and how-to content. However, you might want to break into some lesser-used methods, such as:
Documentary or mini-documentary styles
- Informational videos with text overlays
- Hero backgrounds
- Full-screen videos for an immersive experience
- Client or customer testimonial videos
- Video case studies
With that being said, you do need to ensure that you have an alternate solution in place for visitors with slow Internet connections or those with disabilities who may not be able to interact with your video content in the same way as others.
- Voice-Capable Interfaces: Voice interaction is becoming more and more common as virtual assistant use spreads. Think about it – how often do you ask Siri a question or have Alexa set a reminder for you? From our homes to our smartphones and tablets, voice-activated virtual assistants are making our lives easier, and that trend also spills over into website design and digital marketing. By focusing on voice-capable interface design and implantation in your website, you can achieve quite a few goals, including:
- Ranking better in voice-based searches
- Delivering an improved user experience
- Providing better content surfacing for website visitors
- Ensuring accessibility for visually-impaired website visitors
- AI and Machine Learning: It’s impossible to talk about website design or digital marketing without mentioning artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These two related forces are at the heart of everything from organic search to PPC campaign success to ecommerce product recommendations. As such, they’re critical considerations for businesses of all sizes. AI can be seen at work in chatbots and other automation solutions (like CRMs), while machine learning can include things like Google’s Smart Bidding system. It’s all about multi-dimensional personalisation to help improve the user experience.
- Contextual Marketing: Contextual marketing is part of content personalisation, but it focuses on machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, consider HubSpot’s smart content platform that allows you to tailor forms and copy across your website to a specific user’s needs and intent. That not only improves their experience, but it helps ensure that you’re answering one of Google’s most important demands – that your content speaks directly to user intent when it comes to organic search. This is part of a growing trend toward the elimination of a traditional homepage (at least for many visitors), with the traditional visit start point being replaced by myriad individual landing pages specific to how the visitor reached your site in the first place.
- Keyword Research: While a lot has changed over time when it comes to web design and digital marketing, some things have not. One of those is that you need to base all of your efforts on solid, in-depth keyword research. It doesn’t matter how accessible your site is, or how advanced your AI elements might be, if you aren’t focusing on the right keywords and phrases, you’re not going to see the success that you want.
In order to identify the right keywords and phrases, you need to understand your audience, their needs and pain points, and how your products or services solve their problems. You also need to go beyond the norm with your keyword research. Identify long-tail variants and options that are not as competitive but are highly searched.
- Competitor Research: When it comes to keyword research, you need to do more than understand your audience and take a cue from your competitors. What are they doing online? What keywords and phrases are they using? How much success are they seeing with those keywords and is there a way that you can turn it to your advantage? In-depth competitor research will help you identify new ways to reach your audience while outpacing others in your industry or niche.
- The Right Website Content: No matter how advanced your website design might be, you’re not going to see any success without the right website content. Each page of your site should include keyword-rich copy that speaks directly to user intent, and to your customers’ challenges. It should be unique, evocative, and compelling, but should also build your brand while providing real value to visitors.
- Supported by a Content Strategy: What’s your strategy when it comes to content? How do the various pages of your site support your overall messaging and marketing goals? How do you funnel traffic from the SERPs, PPC ads, or social media posts to the various pages of your website? A robust content strategy is vital today.
- Blog Content: An essential part of your content strategy, blogging offers numerous benefits. It allows you to put a more personal face on your business, but it also helps to position you as a thought leader, to answer user intent in search results, to create content targeted toward specific keywords and phrases, and more.
- Informative Content: While your website should certainly contain compelling copy, you cannot afford to neglect informative content. These pages are more akin to articles than they are to sales letters and they’re designed to inform, educate, and guide your audience, all of which help you rank better in the SERPs while also building a stronger reputation with your audience.
- Product Descriptions: Whether you’re operating in the ecommerce industry or you’re in a B2B niche, your product descriptions are essential to visibility and success. They should be keyword-optimised, but should also be original content that answers some of the most pressing questions your customers have.
- Behind the Scenes: Don’t neglect the vital but often invisible content that operates behind the scenes with your website. We’re talking about page meta tags and descriptions, image alt tags, page URLs and more. While these areas might not jump out at you as “content”, they are. Make sure they’re well written and that they’re optimised using the right keywords and/or phrases. And, remember, it’s not just about Google, either. You should always aim to inform, engage, and guide your audience.
- Inclusive Web Design with SEO: In late 2019, Google rolled out the BERT update, which speaks directly to website accessibility and inclusivity. While the topic can seem complex, it’s actually very simple. The basic premise is that while accessibility needs may vary, each user ideally wants and deserves the same capabilities when accessing your website. For instance, everyone should be able to download your coupons, even if they’re visually impaired. Inclusive web design with SEO helps to deliver a better competitive edge while ensuring that every single member of your audience enjoys a positive experience with your website.
- Provide Alternative Contact Methods: An important part of accessible, inclusive web design is ensuring that your visitors have a simple, convenient way to contact you. Providing a phone number is not the best way to do that, though. Click to call technology is a step in the right direction. Providing a chatbot to answer questions and provide guidance is another. Accessible forms and email contact are also steps toward the right solution.
- Screen Reader-Friendly: Those with disabilities often rely on screen readers to help them make sense of your website content. Make sure that your design is screen reader-friendly. To do that, you’ll need to consider several elements, including the appropriate use of headers, accessible documents, and content “chunking”.
- Headers: Your website content should be laid out using headers to delineate and segment the content into relevant areas for screen readers, but also for users without disabilities. H1, H2, and H3 headers help to achieve this, but should be used consistently and correctly.
- Accessible Documents: Optimising documents is important for visibility and ranking, but you also need to make sure that they’re accessible. Use Adobe’s accessibility checker, but also take the next step and provide an HTML version of important documents so that these meet accessibility standards for website design.
- Content Chunking: Good website design requires that you break your content up into smaller pieces, and that applies to accessibility, as well. By breaking your content up with bullet points, subheadings, shorter sentences, images and the like, you help your audience better understand your content. It also helps visitors remember what they just read, which delivers a better user experience while also boosting accessibility ratings.
- Diagonal Lines: Horizontal lines have been used for a long time to help break website content up into relevant sections. Diagonal lines achieve the same goal while also offering a unique aesthetic that stands out from the crowd. For instance, rather than using a straight horizontal line, you can use rising or falling diagonal lines that still create separate sections of content, but ensure an improved overall visual design.
- High-Quality Imagery: Images are vital for website design in 2020, but you need to ensure that they are right for the task. Website imagery should:
- Be of high quality, but “lite” enough to load quickly even on a cellular connection
- Be optimised with keyword-rich alt tags and descriptions that help those using screen readers understand the content
- Be relevant to the content of the page and your audience
Keep reading to explore three additional bonus tips on using 2020 digital marketing insights to design your website.
- Use a CRM: While a customer relationship management (CRM) platform won’t directly affect your website’s success, it will help you manage the relationships you forge with customers at each touchpoint. It’s all about improving the sales process and creating a closed-loop marketing process that includes your website. However, make sure you choose the right CRM – the various options on the market can differ significantly.
- Stand Out for the Right Reasons: What makes you stand out from the crowd? What is your fundamental difference from your competitors? Make sure that whatever that competitive advantage is, it’s baked into your website design from the very beginning. You must ensure that it is front and centre – you cannot wait for your audience to discover it along the way.
- Connect Website Copy with Content Marketing: Finally, make sure that you’re able to connect your website copy and informative content with the rest of your content marketing. How do you do that? One example is to make sure that individual landing pages use the same type of language as the PPC ads that lead visitors to them. You should also ensure that your website copy supports the points that you make in your blogging efforts, within whitepapers and case studies, and in other informative content. Ultimately, your content needs to be remarkable, not forgettable, and when combined with your wider content marketing efforts, it should create a cohesive whole that pushes you toward your goals while supporting your audience.
Website design best practices have evolved a lot in a very short time. Today, you must do more than create slick marketing copy. Your audience is more informed today. They’re savvier than ever before. There are also new rules of the game that you must comply with, such as accessibility standards. Creating a website that complies with these rules and regulations while still building your authority in the industry can be incredibly challenging, but Emarkable can help. Call us today at 01 808 1301 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you achieve your goals.