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For opinions, commentary and advice on maximizing your website and online resources.

​So far in this 101 series we have asked why do I need a website, and what are the key features of my website?  Now we explain why you need website optimisation.

No one can deny that today’s internet space is a phenomenal network that provides a multitude of new ways for us to communicate.

We are all becoming more reliant on our web sites to help customers find and contact us 24 hours a day. We use our sites to improve customer service, generate leads and make new sales.

Commerce is being transformed with new ways this medium affords us to communicate with our target audiences and customers. It is providing an opportunity for businesses to differentiate their value and create real competitive advantage.

According to Internet Live Stats the world had more than 1 billion websites for a while sometime in 2014, and even though this number has reverted back below 1 billion now.  Sometime before the end of 2015 or early in 2016 there will be once again in excess of 1 billion websites in the world.  All in all it’s a pretty busy and cluttered space, regardless of which way you look at it!

So maybe it goes without saying, and seems obvious, that if your business website is to be found by your target audience in this virtual vastness; it needs to be optimised.

Your ecommerce website without optimisation is like “having a shop in the Sahara”, I was once told!

Below we explore 5 key elements of your website delivery that need to be optimised if you are to maximise your online performance.

Users – First and foremost, it is most important that your site is optimised for users. These are the people you are trying to reach. Your content needs to help users find and contact you; and differentiate your service and offer. It needs to answer users’ questions about your products and services, and provide creditability for your business.  Having empathy for what your customers are likely looking for is the very essence why you have a site in the first place . Rule 1 – Build for your users!

SEO – Your site not only needs great content, but also must be technically optimised to ensure search engines can index your content.  Your SEO efforts should be “localised” and targeted to the markets you are trying to reach. Your optimisation efforts need to focus on making it easy for both users and search engines to understand your web pages.

The good news is that Google along with the other search engines want to provide search users with the most relevant and authoritative list of sites for any given search query.  So with unique and compelling content, along with implementing best practise SEO you are on the way!

Mobile – It is also essential that your site is optimised for use on mobile devices and tablets. Today more and more of our browsing and interactions with each other over the internet, are done on our mobile devices.  More searches are conducted on mobile devices now, than on PC or laptops. We are increasing our usage of these devices by “multi screening” a behaviour, where when we watch TV we simultaneously search and browse on our mobile devices.

On top of our changed behavioural activity; if your website is not optimised for mobile (“mobile friendly”) it will now negatively impact your sites ranking in Google.  Google is “making these changes primarily to make a better mobile experience for searchers and give searchers exactly what they want.” according to Moz.

Our predominant use of these devices means overall site design must start with a “mobile first” approach.

Design and User Experience – Optimising user experiences means constantly trying to improve the user’s interactions and perceptions when they visit your site, which culminates in them finding what they are looking for easily?

It is essential that a site provides an exceptional user experience, on all devices as these different contextual experiences will determine a visitors’ perception of the website.  Your site must be easy to understand and easy for a user to find what they are looking for.  Having a professional design that includes clear navigation paths along with prominent calls to action throughout is essential

A poor experience will inevitably diminish time on site and amongst other things negatively impact conversion.

Speed – Your site must be optimised for speed, and needs to load in a few seconds.  Users have very little patience for any slowness in site speed. Again bad performance for this metric will lead to poor conversion and often early site abandonment.

According to a report by LoadStorm – “you have 5 seconds or less to engage a customer before they leave your website”, “1 in 4 will abandon a website if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load”.  And for mobiles “74% of users will abandon after waiting for 5 seconds for a site to load”.

Constantly checking, and optimising as many page elements as possible that contribute to fast page load speed is essential if you are to achieve and maintain high conversion on your site.

Having a site that is well optimised across all these primary elements will ultimately provide a better customer experience and positive return on investment. You need to understand however, that to achieve the optimal set up is a journey rather than a destination.  It requires constant monitoring, attention and expert care.

Website optimisation can provide you with one of the most powerful ways to reach new and existing customers, and help build your business. Getting it right can deliver exceptional results!

Stuart Clark