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In today’s digital world, it’s not enough to just have a digital presence. Having an easy to use, interactive website is a must to captivate the attention of potential consumers.  Unfortunately, the internet is still filled with poorly designed websites that miss the mark in the arenas of content, design, and functionality.  Read on to learn about the website best practices you should be evaluating on your site this year.

Did you know that, according to business.com, 75% of consumers say that they’ll judge a business’ credibility based on their website design?  How about the fact that most consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and 79% of shoppers say they won’t return to a slow loading site to make a purchase?

Here are a few things that every website owner should consider this year…

1. Load Time

People don’t like to wait. They especially don’t like to wait for a website to load.  Make sure that your website loads quickly across all devices to keep people from hitting that back button before they even see your site.  Whether it’s uncompressed images or slow servers, or something more complex, you should be addressing the issues that keep your site loading slowly.

2. Mobile Friendliness

Now days we can do all sorts of things from our phones. We can order a ride and have someone pick us up in just a few minutes (or less).  We can order all sorts of things and have them delivered within 2 hours.  The point is, people use their phones for just about everything these days, and visiting your website should be one of those things.  Make sure it looks great and is easy to use on phones and tablets.

3. Tracking Enabled

Analytics are so important. These statistics are how you can determine how well your website is performing, what you can improve upon, and even more importantly, what your return on investment is on your other digital marketing efforts.

4. Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

Keeping these important legal documents up to date is crucial. Make sure you disclose important information to your website visitors about how you’re collecting data, and what you do with that data, as well as how you’ll notify them of any changes to that policy.

5. Optimization! (for Users and Search Engines)

Your content should be easy to read and understand by your visitors. Your content should guide your users on a journey to a call to action.  However, you should also make sure your pages are optimized for search engines to index and your sitemaps should be up to date.

6. The Power of Social Media

Too often small businesses get overwhelmed by social media, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Figure out where your ideal target audience is and focus on that platform.  Then use tools to help you leverage the power of social media through scheduling automation and content curation.

7. Security

It may be tempting to skimp on the costs associated with keeping your securities up to date on your website, but don’t do it! Every website should include basic privacy protocols to protect both user information and administrative access.  Additionally, plugins, frameworks, and other website softwares often release security updates on a frequent basis.  Make sure you have a strategy in place for installing those updates.

8. Install an SSL Certificate

While this “best practice” goes along with number 6, it deserves its own space in this article. SSL Certificates should be a standard for any site concerned with website security.  Beyond that,  more and more web browsers are alerting users that the website they are visiting is not secure if the website doesn’t include an SSL Certificate.  This is a scary notification for a website visitor, and one that will likely make them hit that back button – dismissing your website and moving on to your competitor’s.

9. Include your website in your marketing strategy (and budget)

Effective websites require ongoing content development, updates, and tweaks. Not only is it an ongoing need, but the graphics should be modern and the content should be relevant.  Be sure you include these needs in your strategy and budget.

10. Hire the Right Developer.

Too often, developers offer what should be considered industry standards as costly upgrades to clients, many times long after the project has commenced. Be sure you have a clear picture of what’s included, (and what’s not) when it comes to your website.

It’s 2018.  Your website should be playing a major role in your marketing strategy.  If your site is missing the mark on any of these website best practices, it’s time to put an action plan together to fix it.

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