How to Build a Successful Website Part 4: Optimize
Site optimization is a crucial discipline for any web designer who wants to stay competitive. In a nutshell, optimization is the practice of using all of a site’s resources to ensure the entire site operates at a high level of functionality for its users. This also includes search engine optimization (SEO), which basically means a site is easily searchable by both search engines and human Web users. The good news is that optimization basics can be learned in a matter of minutes, but putting those concepts into practice requires patience and diligence to achieve quality results.
Decreasing Page Load Times – One of the most common ways a site starts performing sluggishly has to do with load times. Inexperienced designers often use the largest, high-quality images and files thinking this will make their site look amazing. While this may be true, there’s much more to Web design than simply creating a great-looking site. Using large files will cause pages to load slowly. Today’s Web users won’t stick around to see high-quality images and videos that take a long time to load. In short, a slow site chases visitors away.
Customizing Titles – This goes back to leveraging the popular search habits from average Web users. When designing a site, each developer should consider the types of searches that may be queried among the site’s potential users. Each page should be titled accordingly to match the incoming search volume and the types of searches performed. This makes it easy for Web users to find your site’s individual pages.
URL Integration – The URL is the lifeblood of any site. It’s important to print the URL wherever possible throughout the contents of the site. Use the simplest URL possible, and brand it everywhere throughout the site so it’s memorable to each visiting user.
Updating the Site – Web users are constantly in search of new information. A site that offers fresh, valuable content on a regular basis will keep users coming back for more. Designers should create a site structure where content can be easily and frequently updated to benefit the site’s user-base.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) – Content Delivery Networks are made up networked servers set in different geographical locations. Essentially, each server has a copy of all a site’s files, so that when a Web user accesses your site, the user’s computer accesses the site files from the server closest to her geographical location. The main downside to using CDNs is wrapped up in price. Depending on a site’s needs, a CDN can be more pricey than necessary. But if the site in question requires the use of large site files, a CDN may be helpful for site performance.
Avoid Archaic Web Design Practices – Lastly, stay away from antiquated design and SEO methods. Humans and search engine robots can see right through these cheap techniques to gain search traffic. Old school Web design often includes the use of frames and tables; a more specialized knowledge of Web design is required in order to best optimize a quality site.
Perhaps the most interesting and exciting thing about modern site optimization is that if designers put in the hard work to create a site that’s user-friendly, search engines and users will pick up on that and reward the site accordingly. Good site optimization is simply smart Web design.