Four key stats to help optimise website design

I don’t have anything to back this up other than asking a few mates down the pub, but I reckon most marketers or business owners I speak to aren’t satisfied with their company website.

It’s only natural. Website design is constantly evolving as factors like increased broadband speeds, better 3G and 4G mobile networks, a greater range of devices on which to browse, greater proliferation of mobile devices amongst the population, and more and more service design being re-pointed to online constantly shift the goal posts.

It’s exhausting and challenging and resource-heavy to stay on top of everything. And it’s impossible to ‘future proof’ your site. So I’m not surprised it keeps people up at night.

So to help you out, here are a couple of stats that I think should inform your priorities when it comes to your website (or at least let you know what you really should be worrying about on those sleepless nights).

1. 46% of mobile users have difficulty interacting with websites on their mobile device, and 44% claim that navigation was difficult, according to Keynote.

With 73% of Australians in the 15-65 age bracket smartphone equipped,  over three-quarters of the population accessing the internet via a mobile device, and mobile internet set to outstrip ‘desktop’ use by 2014, this is not a stat that can be ignored. And Econsultancy provide the data to prove it: according to their research, 62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales.

Key takeaway: make sure your website is not only mobile optimised, but  multi-device optimised.

(Of course, this comes with the caveat that you need to understand your own audience. If analytics tells you that only 5% of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, and that traffic is spending just as long on your site as desktop traffic, you probably don’t need to do anything!)

2. 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load (Econsultancy).

What’s more, the change in a website bounce rate spikes to 100% when a page takes four seconds or more to load, and jumps to 150% if a page takes eight seconds or more to load (Mobile Joomla).

Key takeaway: make sure your site loads quickly. These days there’s no excuse for building a heavy site. Test it, and test again.

3. Attention spans are getting shorter.

According to a recent study by the Associated Press, American adults have an eight second attention span online – down 25% since 2000. (To put that into context, a goldfish has a nine second attention span). About 20% of adults spend fewer than four seconds on a website.

Key takeaway: make a statement! Think about what you can communicate in 4 seconds. It’s probably not much, so it’s important to focus on that one key message and make it impossible to miss. Secondary messages have a place too, but first you have to capture and hold your audience’s scarce attention.

4. According to Forrester, $1.1 trillion of all retail sales in 2011 were “web-influenced.”

This correlates with Google’s ‘Zero Moment Of Truth’ research which shows that the number of pieces of content that consumers look at online before making a purchase decision (whether online or in the physical world) is on the rise. It also correlates with the ‘rise in ‘showrooming’ – the practice of browsing product in physical stores and then surfing the web to find the best price and buying online.

Key takeaway: make sure that you consider the entire customer journey, both on and offline, when designing your site – users don’t see a barrier between the internet and the real world, and seamlessly slip from one to the other for convenience. You shouldn’t put up that barrier when thinking about your user journeys. Make sure you have allowed budget for strong content to push people through the journey.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above – and any other key trends you think we should be considering when it comes to website design.

Richard Parker is head of strategy at content marketing agency Edge, where he works with brands including Woolworths, St George and Foxtel.



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