March 31, 2017
One of the most important yet overlooked factors of SEO and digital marketing is User Experience (UX). There’s one analogy in particular that helps articulate the importance of UX and website design, and that is to think of the internet as a giant shopping mall. If the internet is a giant shopping mall, then your website and online presence is your storefront. Like any storefront, brands want to put their best foot forward to get shoppers to come into the store. But what’s equally important in this analogy and for websites is what happens once the customer is actually in the store.
A huge component of UX and digital marketing as a whole is website architecture. By definition, website architecture is an approach to the design and planning of websites that involves technical, aesthetic, and functional criteria. All of this is extremely important for UX and SEO, because it determines how easy it will or will not be for both users and search engines to crawl through your website.
Think of your website as a city, and your website architecture as the way the city is designed and spread out. You want it to be easy to navigate while also pushing users through to a desired outcome. By not paying attention or evaluating your website architecture from time to time, you could be missing out on opportunities to improve your online performance, or even suffering from snags in your structure.
Not a developer? Not a problem.
For many people, assessing website architecture can feel like a foreign and intimidating concept. A widely held belief is that if you didn’t build the website, you certainly can’t test to see if the structure is the best it can be. But contrary to such beliefs, you don’t have to be a master coder or web developer to evaluate your website’s architecture. You’re in charge of your website as much as anyone else is, and there are plenty of user-friendly guides that can walk you through the process of evaluating your website design. But before we get to that, there’s a simple way of looking at website architecture evaluation that will keep you focused on strategic website development rather than just broad optimization.
In evaluating your website architecture, you should approach the process with one thing in mind: conversions. Specifically, your conversions, whether it’s shares, a purchase, or entering information in a form field, focus on whatever the action you want users to take is.
This may sound simple and somewhat obvious, but failure to develop website architecture around brand-specific conversions is what causes glitches in a brand’s funnel to pop up. While there are many templates and effective design strategies, there isn’t a one-size-fits all approach to website design.
Look at your website like a giant arrow or, more commonly, a funnel. The overall goal of your website is to have it structured in a way that points and nudges users along to take your desired action. With that in mind, approach your evaluation based on how effectively the different components of your website architecture satisfy that process. In doing so, you’ll be able to more accurately assess the performance of your website and identify the structural needs you’ll have moving forward.
For an initial evaluation of your website’s architecture, a good starting point is a guided Q & A walk-through of your website. This type of evaluation is a thorough way to better understand the navigation, analytics, aesthetic, content, and strategy evolution of your design. Two solid and beginner-friendly resources for this are Linchpin’s Website Design Checklist and DYNO Mapper’s Website Quality Evaluation. For a more analytic and SEO-focused crawl, try using a software or tool, such as Site Analyzer.
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