Website user experience is a hot topic at the moment and, now part way into 2015, I believe we’re going to see a huge shift in the way the majority of websites are presented this year.
Sometimes I feel that so much emphasis is placed on how best to optimise websites for search, that people lose sight of who they’re supposed to be building it for – their visitors. We can only speculate about what Google wants (unless certain information is revealed by their employees), but what we do know is what the visitor wants. This is not me suggesting that people should disregard SEO, but there are ways it can be incorporated without sacrificing quality.
This is why I suggest doing some thorough research; take some time to browse the web, and take note of certain elements on other websites that you don’t want people to encounter on your own – such as pop-up adverts, slow loading times, broken links, and flagrant keyword stuffing.
Something else that has been suggested, on the same blog post I linked to above, is about the amount of content you post. Josh Bachynski says that posting content “just for SEO’s sake” serves little purpose as, apparently, it does not achieve the desired result that many hope for. What you should be aiming to do is create content that is informative, interesting, or entertaining; the type of content people are likely to share. If someone visits your websites and comes across pages or blog posts which serve little-to-no purpose, this creates a negative impression.
If you discover SEO tips that purport to significantly improve your ranking, but you feel would not make good viewing on your website, it’s not worth implementing. Don’t allow your ardent pursuit of search engine success cheapen the appearance of your website.
With all that being said, here are a list of useful tools that you can use on an existing website to determine how user-friendly it is, and what can be done to improve on its current standing:
Google PageSpeed Insights – This is Google’s own tool which assesses your website’s performance on desktop and mobile devices. If someone visits your website and finds that certain elements take a while to load, their cursor could well be making its way towards the ‘X’ at the top-right corner of the window.
PageSpeed Insights will break down the potential issues – even pinpointing specific files and code – and will suggest how these can be changed to improve the speed.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test – 2014 marked a significant change in the way people interact with websites, as it was the first year that a greater percentage of visits were made on mobile devices rather than desktops.
There are still websites out there which can be viewed well on desktops, but require excessive zooming on a mobile device. This is not conducive to a good user experience.
If you don’t have a mobile device, or don’t frequently use it for browsing, this tool from Google will give you an idea of how your website appears to others – and whether it’s considered ‘mobile-friendly’.
— Nettl of Glos & Chelt (@NettlGlosChelt) November 18, 2014
Dead Link Checker – This tool does a full scan of your website and identifies all broken links. This saves you having to navigate to each page of your website and testing them yourself.
You shouldn’t be dwelling over what crafty methods you can use for SEO purposes; rather you should be thinking how it benefits the user.