As the world wide web continues to evolve and grow, more people are on the Internet than ever before. According to research done by world bank, in the year 2000, only 6.78% of the world’s population was connected to the Internet. In 2005 that number rose to 15.87% and in the year 2010 that number grew to 30.48%.
Facebook, one of the most popular websites in the internet has reached over 500 million registered users. With the continual growth of the internet and the speed of how things change, let’s look at 7 key concepts that will continually ring true for WordPress design in the future.
1. Keep it fast and light
One principle that’s rang out and true is to keep your graphics fast and light. Use a good photo editing program such as the Gimp or Photoshop to optimize your images for the web, keeping them small so web pages load fast and efficiently.
The larger a picture or graphic is for a given page, the longer it will take to load. As mobile broadband usage continually grows, think about the speed of an internet connection on a cell phone, and use that as your benchmark. If your web page can’t load up in 5 seconds or less on a typical 2G or 3G Internet connection, then your page needs to be slimmed down and optimized.
2. Focus graphics on the call to action
Don’t ever forget about why you are on the Internet in the first place. It doesn’t matter if you are running a blog for fun, or if you are trying to build a massive e-commerce shopping cart solution, you always want to direct the attention of your audience to a certain place through the use of a strong call to action.
Invite users to join the mailing list, or visit the shopping cart, or to read more articles, or whatever you want them to do, but be sure to tell them directly, in simple easy to understand language. It’s important to use the lowest common denominator in intelligent language for your audience.
If your writing blog articles on how to write a book or how to get an MBA, then don’t use MBA or PHD level language, because your audience obviously won’t have that level of education or understanding. The general rule of thumb in web design is to write in language that is at a 6th grade level or lower, to reach the entire population. Use simple language to drive people to join the mailing list, or to buy something.
3. Be cross platform compatible
When setting up your website you want to be as compatible with as many platforms as possible. Develop compatible versions of your site for windows mobile, RIM, android, iOS, Chrome, IE, Firefox, Safari, and any other future platform that comes about as a new standard.
The last thing you want to do is limit the scope of your audience because their using a browser or a platform that’s not compatible with your software. By being as compatible as possible with the device and browser your audience members are using, you will keep your target audience as wide as possible, which should always be the goal in terms of compatibility.
At the very least you should be compatible with Microsoft Internet Explorer on Windows XP and windows 7 Machines, Firefox, and Safari on one of the new Mac machines.
4. Stick to web standards
Another key principle that goes along with a compatible platform is sticking to the bedrock web standards. From the technical perspective that means adhering your site to XHTML 4.0 standards.
The world wide web consortium is an organization that publishes and maintains web standards for the world of the Internet. To check if your site ix XHMTL 4.0 Compatible, then use their Validator tool. The more compatible your site is, the better it will display on different web pages and different browsers.
5. Test test test
The biggest single thing anyone can do is test their web pages against each other, to see which page has the best conversion rate. Use the Google Website Optimizer to analyze your pages to see how many visitors will be convinced to buy something, then copy that page and make one change, and test those pages.
If that process is too complicated, then run 1 version of a web page (with the same URL) for 30 days, and track the number of conversions or clicks that you get through that page, then run a second version of the page for 30 more days, and compare the percentage people that clicked through and bought something. Use that as a benchmark process, and continually refine your pages to ensure that they are all properly converting in the way you want them to.
6. Create your visitor profile
Another fantastic concept to master is creating a highly detailed visitor profile. In other words, paint a picture of your perfect customer. Collect some details about them such as:
- What is their Gender?
- What is their Age or Age range?
- What is their Marital Status?
- What do they care about?
- What are they feeling?
- What problem are they looking to solve?
- What questions do they have?
- What are their hobbies?
If you can answer some or all of these questions about your ideal customer, you will have a much more accurate picture about the kind of guests that will turn into customers, and customers that will turn into subscribers or repeat customers.
7. Engage the customer
Facebook is the most popular social networks on the Internet right now, with over 500 Million Registered Users. At one time MySpace was the big social network that everyone should be on.
No matter what social network or platform your customers are using, be sure to engage with them where they are. If they are on facebook, then go to facebook. If their on twitter, then use that tool, and if their on foursquare or another social network that is up and coming, then meet your customers at that medium.
The same goes true for other kinds of websites. If your customers are on youtube all the time, then invest in a camcorder and create a high quality youtube video campaign.
No matter where your customers are, or what technology they are using, then meet them where their at, and simply offer them solutions to their problems and stop trying to sell them your products or services. By simply offering yourself as a friend or as a trusted person they can rely on for solid advice, they will come back to you and engage with you, no matter what your selling.