These days you don’t exist if you don’t have an online or social media presence, so having a website in today’s world, isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. If you are in business and selling your services, your website can make getting clients easy or can make people run away before they even read what you have to offer. But how do you build one and what makes a good website?
Back in the old day’s, websites used to be hard coded using HTML code ( almost like hieroglyphs from ancient Egypt, not readable for regular people like us). Because of its complex nature, you would have to hire an expensive web developer to create this piece of art and quite frankly, the end result would not always match the picture you had in your head.
Wix, Squarespace and even Wordpress these days (with the right template) make it really easy for all of us to mark our existence in the mysterious web world, but there are a few things you need to pay attention to if you want to have a website that matches current standards. I will cover CMS in future articles, for now, let’s assume you have a website and need to check if things are right.
It is important that your website looks good, not only on your laptop and desktop computer but also on a tablet and mobile phone. A responsive website will readjust itself to fit into the screen of your device, thus making it easy to read from any device.
These days, we have our smartphones with us all the time and most of us kill our commute to work by browsing on our phones. For example, you may check your Instagram account, get interested in a profile that you found or see an advert and then click on the link to their website. This is the first time that your future clients will come into contact with and see your website. If your website isn’t responsive, the first experience is not going to be a positive one and that isn’t good for business. Simply, your client will go away and you will lose your lead.
We have noticed that most of our potential students will find our website whilst using their mobile device (for example they find us whilst using Instagram on their smartphone). If they like what they see, the same people, if they are interested in our services, will come back to our website later on and check it out from home, on a desktop computer or laptop.
It isn’t enough to design your website for just one device. Creating a responsive website not only makes a good website experience for your potential client but also creates a great first impression. Can you see that our mobile presence is equally as important as our desktop one?
In most cases, you can check the responsiveness of your website by simply changing the size of your browser’s window. Have a look at our video below:
HTTPS (which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Security), in simple terms, means that your website connection needs to be encrypted to provide a secure flow of information between your client’s computer and the server (the place where your website virtually ‘lives’ and is installed).
Have a look at our website, our address is https://www.idbs.online (in some browsers you will also see a padlock as a confirmation of a secure connection). As an example, if a website is not using HTTPS and you are browsing it using Google Chrome, you will see a warning. There probably isn’t anything wrong with the website, but Chrome wants to tell you that you may potentially be hacked (i.e. your contact and payment details could be stolen) if you try to fill in the contact form or pay for something through that website.
What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
This small difference by adding the ‘S’ creates a whole new world of security for your clients. It means that, for instance, when your client adds their credit card information through your store, the info sent to your payment provider (i.e. STRIPE) will be encrypted (think the second world war and the Enigma machine – OK … I got slightly carried away).
The encryption process makes it really hard for hackers to catch your client’s card details as the data is not sent as regular text but as a mixture of digits, characters and letters. Once the data reaches the server (that is now the safe place after travelling through the dark, roads and tunnels of the web world), it is decoded back into normal text and it can be safely processed.
In the past, we had to buy pricy certification (i.e. Comodo) and install it on our server in order to secure the connection between a website visitor and the server. Things have changed however and more and more host providers feature something called “LETS ENCRYPT’ that allows you to install the security certificate for free, in a few seconds from the cPanel.
That’s really great news as sometimes the cost of maintaining your website and all of the subscriptions to all those ‘necessary’ features adds up to a pretty hefty monthly figure. If you are curious about ‘LETS ENCRYPT’ check this link: https://letsencrypt.org/
So as you can see, a good website is a secure website. You want to give your potential clients the feeling that you care about their security (and in some countries, it is the law to do so), so make it a priority to make your website secure.
That’s a big one, would you wait for a website to load for more than 10 or 20 seconds? Of course not, the way we live and access information makes us a little bit impatient, we want to see things pretty much instantly!
Our clients are no different from us, so we need to make sure that the content of the website is delivered at a decent speed. Usually, a load speed of anything under 3 seconds would be a great place to be. You can test the speed of your websites by using Googles Page Speed Insights – here is the link: https://pagespeed.web.dev/
Optimize Images For Web
One way to optimise the website speed is by making sure the size of your photos is relatively small. For example, Squarespace recommends an image to be a maximum of 2500 pixels wide (this could be a maximum size for the banner on your website). Anything above that will make the image unnecessarily large and will increase the load speed.
For in-text images, I would definitely aim for a much smaller size, possibly closer to 800, 600 or even 400 pixels wide. Changing the size of the image is one way to decrease the size of the file, another way is to use image compression. This process will remove certain data from the image and thus reduce the overall size. You have to be careful with compression, however, as you may degrade the quality of the photo by overcompressing. Here is an example:
One popular tool (and the one we use) to resize and compress our images is Photoshop (or it’s free equivalent GIMP). Another way is to use one of the many websites that allow you to do it for free like Compressor: https://compressor.io/
I hope that gives you some insight into the world of web design and shows you what your website needs in today’s world! There are so many things that you need to pay attention to. I make sure that each article is relevant, useful, educational and reveals new information so that you can slowly feel more comfortable with this kind of technical knowledge. Don’t be afraid, sometimes just reading is enough. Over time you will become more confident.
By the way, I actively support our students in our 90 Days To A Freelance Life Mentorship Program. Join us and I will help you too!