As we wind the year down, and look forward to 2016, I thought I would take a minute and cover some of the essential elements of a modern website that you might be overlooking and need to consider implementing for the new year.

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will already know that mobile is the forward thinking area that all website owners must concentrate on improving.

With more than 50% of website visitors coming to websites from a mobile device, whether it be a smartphone or a tablet, it is more important than ever not to forget that market segment when planning a new website or updating your current website for the coming year.

Businesses that keep their websites up-to-date with the current trends and technologies see their work rewarded through increases in exposure and traffic for their site. Don’t get left behind in your competitors’ dust. Stay on top of the new technologies, tools and advancements to stay relevant and competitive in your industry.

The following is a list of areas you should really consider reevaluating and improving on your website as we enter the new year.

1.) Mobile-Friendly Design

Your mobile visitors need to have the same rich experience that your desktop users have. After all, chances are at least half of your visitors are coming to your site from a mobile device. When they visit your website it should seamlessly reformat to fit the device they are using.

Have you visited your own website from a smartphone or small tablet at all? If not, please do so now to see what half of your website visitors are probably seeing. If you don’t have a small device available to you, navigate to your website and pull the corners of your web browser in, to simulate how it might look on a smaller screen.

Does your website automatically reflow to accommodate the viewing area? If not, you may need to consider a redesign to make it mobile-friendly.

I reported, back in March of this year, that Google would soon release an update that would turn many website owners worlds upside down with the requirement that their sites be compatible with smaller devices like phones and tablets. Google’s mobile-friendly update rolled out the next month, in April, and the results were almost instantaneous when many websites saw a marked dip in traffic within just a few weeks.

Keep in mind, Google largely influences all things internet and they are now even penalizing sites in search that aren’t mobile-friendly. This means you are losing potential website visitors because you are getting lower rankings in organic search results, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly already.

2.) Navigation

Navigation is an area many people don’t pay much attention to when planning out their websites, but it happens to be one of the most important areas they should consider. People tend to not stick around on website where they can’t find what they are looking for quickly and easily. So, that makes navigation an important part of your design puzzle.

Your navigation menu or menus are the gateway to the rest of your site. Your navigation should be easy to find, consistent across all the pages of your website and have section names that clearly define the areas of your website.

Carefully consider your navigation before you even begin to design your final website. Plan the way people will “funnel” through your site, with an end goal in mind, whether it will be a sale or some type of other further action on their part. Failure to do so ahead of time can cause you to have to go back and spend a lot of time changing things in the future. Make sure everything works well together right out of the gate.

3.) Integration With Social Media

Let’s face it, social media is hot! The importance of having social media tied to your website can’t be stressed enough. You should be incorporating social media throughout your website to allow potential customers and clients to interact with you in various ways.

If you haven’t already, add “share” and “like” buttons to the content on your website. This allows others to share your content with their like minded friends and business associates on outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This means free marketing and brand awareness for you!

If you aren’t already doing this, you are missing a potential goldmine of free advertising.

4.) Lots of Fresh and Rich Content

Adding lots of fresh and quality content to your site is a must in 2016. Content is what gives people a reason to visit your website, and fresh content gives them a reason to come back. When your site doesn’t offer a lot of reasons for people to stick around, or they can read the whole thing in a few minutes and it doesn’t look like you update often, they don’t really see a need to ever come back to your site again.

Again, if you have followed me for any length of time now, you know how I stress the importance of adding new and rich content to your website for the SEO benefits. And, keep in mind, not only does quality content assist you with SEO, but it also can improve your brand’s reputation and increase the number of visitors to your site, as well as the amount of sales you close.

In advertising, there is a thing called the “effective frequency,” which is the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is rendered. So, you want it to be your goal to get people to come back to your website, so your brand is continually “in their face.” If you aren’t putting out fresh content, they have no reason to ever come back. If you are constantly putting out new content, that they would like to read, you are giving them a reason to return.

5.) Tracking Your Visitors

Are you using web analytics to get data about your website’s performance? If not, you are missing the boat on important information you can be gathering to determine the browsing habits of your website’s visitors and understand what is driving your them to an end goal.

By not having proper analytics set up in the back end of your site, and monitoring the data you are gathering, you are missing an important step that can help you to determine if you are effectively meeting your business objectives, and, if not, what course corrections you may need to make on your website in order to do so.

For an eCommerce site this would obviously be selling products. For content publishers it would be to garner engagement and frequent visits to their site. For lead generation sites it would be collecting user information for potential leads.

You need to determine what the end goal of your website is, and then use your analytics information to determine if you are achieving that goal. Without having proper analytics installed, you simply can’t do this.

Wrapping It All Up

Hopefully this gives you an idea of five areas you should be concentrating on as we move into the new year. If you currently have a web designer or web developer, please speak with them about how you can better incorporate these five areas into your existing website moving forward.

If you are trying to go it alone, use these points as a guide to what you should concentrate on improving on your website in the coming year, and make it your goal to implement them as quickly as possible. You may also want to subscribe to my blog to get more tips on improving your website in the future.

If you are considering a new website or a website redesign, you can also contact me and I would be happy to speak with you about your project.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. I will also try to answer any questions you may have. Happy 2016!

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Image Credits:
fancycrave1 / Pixabay (Mobile-Friendly)
baynados / Pixabay (Social Media)

website design, online marketing

Nora Kramer
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Nora Kramer

Lead Web Designer & Developer at Nora Kramer Designs
Nora Kramer is a website professional and online marketing consultant with over two decades of experience in graphic design, website development and company branding. She also has a passion for photography and writing. Nora received the Charlie Award (1st Place) in 2002 for "Best Magazine Feature Article of the Year" from the Florida Magazine Association.
Nora Kramer
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