Your website is a hard-working machine, but even machines have challenges to overcome. The success of your website depends on how well it is set to vanquish these obstacles. Fortunately, there is much documentation on how to tackle these issues, but first let’s identify them altogether.
Working with various browsers and devices
Your website no longer needs to look the same in different browsers or devices with different screen sizes. With responsive design, a website changes its form to fit any available space on whatever screen. This technique is frequently practiced and has become the norm on the Web.
However, discrepancies between browsers exist, so browser-related issues are very common. A broken functionality on your website is a sure way to deflect visitors. This is why it is crucial to keep testing your website in all the browsers and devices that your visitors are potentially using.
Obtaining the software and hardware needed to perform these tests can be detrimental to your sanity. Luckily there are tools that can help alleviate the burden. BrowserStack is one of them and provides 2000+ real devices and browsers that you can access via a single platform.
Providing the ideal user experience (UX)
Your website is foremost built for your users. Hence, your website should be designed to fulfill their needs and facilitate their tasks. This is often not obvious to do when you don’t have a clear picture of who your users are. The ideal user experience is not a destination, but a never-ending journey of discovery.
Finding out who your users are and what they need can be achieved with usability testing and analytical tools, such as Google Analytics and Hotjar. At any rate, understanding your users takes time. To jumpstart this process, there is a fundamental law that you can follow right now: design your website like every other website.
“Users spend most of their time on other websites than on your website. When people get their cumulative experience of all these other websites, that adds up to their understanding of how a website should work and what are the design conventions on the Internet. So, if your website does the same as most other websites, then when somebody arrives at your site, they’re going to know how to use it.”– Jakob Nielsen, Principal, Nielsen Norman Group
Design for patterns for which users are already accustomed, but watch out for bad practices that have been popularized (please think carefully before placing that slider at the top of your homepage).
Ensuring fast loading times
Although technical in nature, the speed at which your website loads is important to your bottom line. Users are more likely to exit your website for every additional second it takes to load. This means less business to you and probably more business for your competitors.
There are many steps that you need to take in order to optimize the Web performance of your website. For the most part, you just need your website to load relatively fast for your users. How fast are the websites of your competitors?
If your website is on a popular platform, there may already be off-the-shelf solutions that could help you accelerate your website. To fine-tune the performance of your website even further, you might need to start at the roots and get help from Web performance experts.
Website security is something you should always keep a close eye on. There are many threats on the Internet, so it is normal to get overwhelmed by all the defence mechanisms.
Generally, security starts at the server level, so you should delegate this part to a Web hosting provider that prioritizes security. Then, the underlying technology of your website should also be secure and free of vulnerabilities.
Security is an ongoing process. Not only does it require that the software of your website is kept up to date, it also requires a degree of monitoring. From blocking attacks to malware scanning, there is always some action. It is better to be proactive and safe than sorry.
Whether or not you need to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), your website should still remain accessible to all visitors. Having a certain disability shouldn’t prevent a person from visiting and using your website.
Besides, accessibility is not only a good practice, it is also good for search engine optimization (SEO). Organized and clear headlines, content-rich information, and alt attributes on images all increase readability, which is favourable for users and search engines alike.
Accessibility enhances your design as well. Good contrast between colours, visual hierarchy, keyboard-accessible navigation, all this great stuff increases the quality of your website. If you’re looking to make your website more accessible, a good way to start is with the axe audit tool.
Improving with data
Data is everywhere nowadays. You either have none at all or too much of it. Getting data is the easy part, but once you get it, how are you going to act on it? In any event, it is better to collect this data than not have it at all.
If you’re not improving your website with the data you’re collecting, your competitor is doing it with the data they’re collecting. Installing Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager has become standard procedure in Web development.
You should always strive to improve your website on a continuous basis. If you’re looking for more control in your experiments, there is A/B testing. This technique is not straightforward as it requires a more rigorous process, but the results are more evident. To expedite this process, you can try Google Optimize.
Feel free to explore any of the tools mentioned in this article. If you have any questions or comments, let us know by contacting us. We would love to hear your feedback.