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Don't Cut Corners: Performance, Forms & Content Tips for a Better Site

Users will have many questions and possibly doubts when visiting your website, and you don’t want to give them any more reasons to leave. Avoid the temptation to cut corners and convince yourself that the “small” things you can do to improve their experience won’t really matter. They do, and when you add them up they could mean the difference between converting a visitor to a new customer—or not. Here are some common areas that are often overlooked.

Snappy Performance

The first experience a user will have with your website is how………… fast……… does…….. it……… load. A fast-loading website gives the user the impression that your business is professional, dependable, and—to a certain measure—trustworthy. Page load speed also carries weight with search engines and is a factor in determining your rank in search results. Google has gone so far as to say that slow-performing mobile websites can be penalized in search rankings.

So, what you can you do to improve performance? Tackling this issue requires looking at a wide range of factors, from choosing the right type of web server to optimizing the size of your images. A good place to start is making sure your developers understand the rules behind Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

We don’t have control over how fast the user’s internet connection is, but that’s no excuse for cutting corners. Visit your competitor’s websites and see how fast they load. If their websites load quickly, then it’s doubly important that your website does as well. If they don’t, then you have an opportunity.

Nimble Forms

Forms are one of the most neglected and overlooked areas of a website. Entire books are devoted to the science and study of optimizing forms to improve them and consequently increase their conversion rate. If you haven’t read them, here are some quick insights to consider.

The key areas where you will see the most impact are:

  • Making the form easy to use
  • Cutting down the information required by the form to the bare minimum
  • Investing time planning the layout and design of the form

The more unnecessary form fields you have, the more barriers you’re putting up.  You want to make the process fast and as painless as possible. Consider whether you can gather some of the information after the user submits an initial, simpler form. That way, you’ve already gathered some information from them in case they don’t complete the follow-up form. If you’ve tried trimming the form to the bare minimum and it’s still too long, consider grouping the information you’re requesting into separate steps that the user completes one at a time.

Don’t stop once you’ve launched your website. Continuously improve them by A/B testing changes and applying what you learn. Forms are often the final destination and end of the funnel for marketing efforts. Don’t neglect them and drop the ball on the one-yard line.

Considerate Content

How often have you visited a page only to find that it had nothing to do with what you were led to believe it would? Or, came to a page that was poorly formatted, with an overabundance of links and stuffed with more content than you would ever care to read and sift through? I’m sure you have, and you don’t want to give your visitors the same experience.

Your content needs to align with how your visitors engage with your site. Here are a few tips to ensure that your content keeps your users in mind:

  • Cross-link to other pages in your content to lead the user to a page with relevant information.
  • Give the user a clear path or next step to follow at the end of the page content, whether that’s a call to action or a link to another page that has related content.
  • Break up the content and keep things fresh by including relevant imagery and videos, if applicable, as well as formatting some of the content into scan-friendly lists where it makes sense.
  • Don’t cast too wide of a net and try to speak to every audience possible. Know who your audience is and speak to them.
  • Avoid the temptation to make the page a catch-all for everything they might possibly want to know and keep it focused on the page’s purpose. This is where linking to relevant pages with additional information comes in as well.

There are many more topics related to this that I could cover, but the key takeaway is to consider your user at all times. As you make decisions throughout a website project, ask yourself the following:

  • “Am I cutting corners to save time (and consequently money) at the expense of my users?” 
  • “If we do or add this to the site, are we placing our internal employee and process needs before our users’?”
  • “Is this content something the user will really care to know about, or is it information that’s only meaningful to us?”
  • “Does this content only exist to fill space on the page and is there anything else more relevant that can go in its place?”
  • “Is this the appropriate point in our conversation with the user to bring this up, or are we moving too fast?”

It really comes down to whether you want to sacrifice long-term results (which are usually more valuable), for short-term gains. Stand out from the crowd by delighting your users with the little things that show you care about them and have taken the time to consider their needs.