How can a great user experience go hand in hand with great SEO?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 11, 2019

Are you constantly doing seemingly ‘all of the right things’ with the optimisation of your website for the search engines, only to find the high rankings you’ve worked so hard to achieve aren’t even bringing you a noticeable uplift in sales and loyal customers... that is, if your rankings are even climbing at all?

If so, your big problem may be that you’ve overlooked the crucial connection between user experience – or ‘UX’, as it’s frequently referred to in web design and development circles – and SEO.

You see, the two things have a very intimate relationship. Just imagine having two equally renowned high-street stores to choose from for a particular product, with the item being priced the same in both places... except that at one store, the staff are so much nicer, more responsive to your queries and more informative when answering your questions.

In theory, you might still buy the product at the ‘other’ store... but it’s the one that provides an especially great experience that you are especially likely to purchase the item from.

So, how does effect manifest for ecommerce stores?

Let’s continue with the offline analogy for a bit. You go to said brilliant store, you buy the product, you’re satisfied and you go back to that store again and again in the future, consistently benefitting from a brilliant service. You tell your friends and relatives how good this store is, and the store gains such a reputation that it is featured prominently in local directories, newspapers and magazines.

Well, there’s a similar thing going on for online stores that provide a superb user experience.

These sites don’t suffer from such high ‘bounce rates’ – the online store equivalent of someone heading into a shop, and then going straight back out again – while the more pleasurable browsing and buying experience for visitors lends itself to heightened ratings, referrals and inbound links.

A few quick ways to bolster your UX – and with it, your SEO

OK, so you might turn to Piranha Designs to undertake more in-depth optimisation of your site’s user experience – but here are a few quick tips to give you some inspiration and ideas. You might want to try...

  • Ensuring your site’s internal links are to pages that are genuinely relevant and useful for shoppers – there’s little point in linking to the page you’re already on, for example
  • Optimising for faster page loading times, in light of the Google study that showed conversions fell by 12% for every second of load time
  • Giving customers an equally pleasurable experience on mobile and desktop, in recognition of the fact that more than half of Google’s global search results are served from its mobile-first index
  • Going into greater depth with your content. Be careful here – length alone won’t translate into higher rankings, but content that is genuinely more informative and useful for visitors than what your rivals are serving up might well do
  • Targeting keyword themes and words that fit in well with what you’re offering to the customer, instead of being intended purely to drive search volume

Get in touch today with the Piranha Designs team at our Gibraltar, Edinburgh or London offices, and we’d be delighted to talk to you about our website design and SEO services that will help you to maximise your site’s user experience and with it, your brand’s online fortunes.

3 ways to shorten image loading times on your site

Piranha Designs - Monday, July 08, 2019

The reasons to have images on your website at all should be more than obvious when you consider what your site would be like without them. In short, it would be a rather dull place that would be relatively ineffective at inspiring visitors or giving them an accurate impression of your products or services. But are you allowing a love of sophisticated imagery to impact on other aspects of the user experience – such as how long it takes your pages to load? 

Believe it or not, it’s more than possible to reduce how long it takes for your site to load images, without compromising its all-round visual appeal. Here are a few examples of what we mean. 

Don’t have quite so many images on your site

It may sound like an obvious tip, but did you know that according to a HTTP Archive report, the typical webpage in 2019 may request between 28 and 32 images when it loads? It’s well worth asking yourself, then, whether all of those images on a given webpage of yours are really necessary. 

When it comes to product category pages on ecommerce sites, for instance, the various images showing actual available products tend to be critical in terms of not only showing the viewer the products in question, but also educating them about these items’ benefits and inspiring them to buy. 

But are some of the images on such pages on your own site effectively just pictures of text, or decorative, or perhaps even stock images that don’t really communicate anything? 

Embrace the ‘lazy loading’ of images 

Traditionally, when a webpage loads, it requests every image listed in the page markup, including any images that may be initially off-screen and only become visible when the user scrolls down the page. 

This is where ‘lazy loading’ comes in useful, as it loads certain images only when they are strictly needed. Just imagine how much quicker a given page on your site could load, if it only initially requested those images that would immediately appear on the user’s screen. 

Various lazy-loading scripts are available to introduce this functionality to your site, or you could ask the Piranha Designs team to incorporate it when you turn to us for website design.

Compress your images

Such raster formats as JPG, PNG and GIF are widespread on the web, and may therefore be represented across many of the images on your own site’s pages. 

Sometimes, it’s possible to compress such images to ensure they load faster, while scarcely making any visible difference to their quality. It can be done through popular image-editing software, or automatically via such other solutions as content delivery networks, scripts or application programming interfaces. 

Images may be just one element of your brand’s online presence, but they can make a greater-than-initially-expected difference to your efforts to market your business and generate revenue on the web. For a more in-depth discussion of your firm’s web design needs in 2019, why not get in touch with the Piranha Designs team in Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh today? 

How to compensate for customers not being able to touch your products

Piranha Designs - Monday, June 24, 2019

There are a lot of great things about shopping online, ranging from its sheer convenience to the deals frequently available on ecommerce sites that might not be within your easy reach if you were to depend on the high street alone. 

Online retail isn’t without its drawbacks, though, with surely the biggest being the fact that the customer cannot reach out, touch and inspect a given product prior to purchasing it. 

This factor alone may deter some of your prospective customers from using your site, when there is a rival seller of a given required item within travelling distance of their house. So, what are some of the best potential ways of overcoming such a clear disadvantage as an ecommerce site owner?

Show plenty of captivating photos 

Anyone working in retail knows how powerful product imagery is. However, for too many of the items on sale in your online store, you may presently be dependent on whatever standard images the manufacturer has provided, perhaps simply depicting the product on a blank background. 

Why should you settle for that, when there’s such an obvious opportunity to incorporate context-of-use images into your product pages? These are photos that show how the particular item is actually used, thereby enabling the shopper to easily imagine how they might do the same. 

Explainer graphics can also be helpful, as can images that depict the product at unusual angles or in close-up to draw attention to distinctive and useful features. The more your on-site images can tell your customers about an item’s design, dimensions and functionality, the less they will feel the need to seek out an example of the product to scrutinise ‘in real life’ before ordering it. 

Include videos of the product 

While images can be taken of a product that include a person using it for demonstration purposes, video can be even more powerful in this regard. After all, there may be certain more technical products – or those requiring assembly – that require slightly more elaborate explanation as to how they are to be used, which can be done especially memorably in a video or two. 

Allow customers to post product reviews 

Providing a means by which customers can submit their own content in relation to the product can be similarly invaluable for reducing those urges that other shoppers may have to head to a brick-and-mortar store to examine and touch the item for themselves. 

It’s the case with photos and videos, and it can be the case with user-submitted reviews, too. Such reviews will help to answer the most pressing questions that customers are likely to have about what the product is actually like in real-life circumstances, further ‘humanising’ your site in the process. 

Are you looking for a website design service that also gives you full control over your site for updating its content when required? If so, you may be pleased to learn about our expertise in ecommerce web design, this being just one of the key services that Piranha Designs can provide to assist your retail brand in establishing the strongest possible online presence.

What’s stopping your mobile site from converting as well as it should?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, May 23, 2019

If your experiences as an online business owner have been anywhere near typical, there’s a good chance that you will have seen the amount of mobile traffic received by your site creep higher and higher. Indeed, it was back in 2016 when mobile page views overtook desktop for almost all websites. Alongside this trend has been a tendency for mobile conversions to also gradually go up.

One other thing the statistics seem to tell us, though, is that customers tend to still prefer desktop and tablet devices for placing those really big orders.

This presents a difficulty if you’ve been focusing a lot lately on optimising your mobile ecommerce site design. If your online retailer’s conversions via mobile seem a little sluggish, what could be causing the problem – and is it even your fault?

Not all causes of poor mobile conversions are easy to address

Fortunately or unfortunately, there are certain things inherent to mobile sites – even the very best ones – that can act like a drag on their conversion rates.

There’s a good chance that a prospective shopper browsing your site via a desktop computer, for instance, is enjoying a faster Internet connection than the typical mobile user. The latter, after all, often access the web on their devices through public Wi-Fi connections. If they were simply sat at home or in the office, many of them would surely use the frequently faster hardwired connections available on their desktop computers instead.

The bigger screens that desktop devices offer over mobile ones can make a big difference as well, as they enable more information to be shared within the visitors’ view, with regard to navigational menus, products and search options alike.

Oh, and mobile users also often just have more distractions to contend with than desktop shoppers, in the form of social media alerts, text notifications and any messages that may come in from other apps installed on their device.

But there are still some things you can do to boost user experience

So, we’ve established a number of issues that can be tricky to overcome as far as bolstering mobile conversions is concerned. But that’s no reason to be fatalistic, given the wide range of measures you can adopt to minimise the impact of these problems.

The speed of your mobile site is certainly imperative, which is why you should go to every length to compress images, scripts, CSS and HTML without adversely affecting other aspects of the user experience.

All manner of ways also exist to optimise category and search results – even just fitting product thumbnails into two columns, to enable visitors to see more options without having to scroll, can make a significant difference.

Oh, and you might also want to look into how you can allow for cross-device and generally more seamless shopping – such as the use of ‘persistent carts’, which retain products that the customer has stored in them for later reference, even if the customer moves away from the site.

Ask us about our high level of mobile website design expertise

The above are by no means the only steps that you might take to refine your mobile website’s effectiveness – so why not contact our capable and seasoned experts today for advice tailored to your own site’s specific requirements?

Get in touch with us in Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh today for an in-depth discussion about how we could assist you in achieving formidable increases in your mobile conversions this year.

What could a ‘live chat’ feature do for your ecommerce store?

Piranha Designs - Monday, April 08, 2019

‘Live chat’ functionality has become an increasingly familiar element among the wealth of customer support options offered by ecommerce sites, alongside the likes of social media links, telephone numbers and email addresses.

However, the benefits of incorporating such a feature into your brand’s own online store could be wider-ranging than you initially expect. Below are just a few examples of what we mean.

Customers are comfortable using it

Anything that could help to cultivate a good relationship with a customer from the earliest stages has to be a good thing for your ecommerce store, and there is both formal and more anecdotal evidence to suggest that customers are comfortable with using live chat functionality on a website.

One study last year, for instance, found that 43% of customers have previously used live chat. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given that it’s much like the chat programs, online messengers and text messaging that many of your customers will already be accustomed to using in their personal lives.

It’s quick to use

As they say, time is money. It’s therefore helpful for both the customer and the ecommerce business if visitors can receive swift responses to their queries – whether about the given company’s products, services, delivery costs or something else altogether.

As soon as a visitor initiates a chat using such software, a customer service representative on your business’s side can be notified of this straight away and provide an immediate answer.

This could be especially important if the customer’s query concerns an issue that is preventing them from completing a purchase. In such circumstances, your ecommerce store’s live chat feature could make the difference between a clinched sale and a lost sale.

It helps to replicate the ‘high street’ shopping experience

Sure, your customer service representative can’t pick up a product and present it to the customer for them to touch. If the customer has any questions about a product, though, they can ask them... and perhaps also any secondary questions springing from the answers given to the first ones.

In the process, you will be able to answer questions in relation to such specific matters as product selection and availability, and even any related products that you may recommend to the customer, in light of their specific requirements.

A live chat feature, then, can help to restore some of the ‘humanity’ to the shopping experience that may otherwise seem at risk of being lost when one switches from offline to online retail.

The above aren’t the entirety of the benefits that you could see from embedding a live chat feature into your site, with others including the opportunity to gather invaluable data about your customers, as well as the cost savings that it can offer over other forms of customer service.

Could live chat functionality be central to the customer service offered by your own next ecommerce site? Don’t hesitate to contact our experts in custom website solutions for a more in-depth chat about the requirements that you have for your firm’s online presence.

Content writing tips that will help to vault your site up the search engine rankings

Piranha Designs - Monday, March 25, 2019

Composing the most effective text on your website – think such things as your product descriptions, articles, blog posts and other written copy – is a task that you may find intimidating from time to time. After all, it’s an element of your online presence that needs to be carefully crafted to appeal to both human users and search engine spiders.

But that doesn’t mean you need to give in to the dreaded ‘writer’s block’ when you’re trying to rustle up some text for your site. Follow our advice below, and you can maximise your chances of writing content that engages your target audiences and bolsters natural search engine performance.

Come up with an outline before you start

Sometimes, simply doing what your English teacher would have told you to do at school can be a brilliant formula for generating high-quality written copy.

It can greatly help, for example, to first devise an outline of what you want to write about in a given piece of text on your site. What are the key features and benefits of a product for which you are writing a description, or what vital points must your next blog post address?

Don’t worry too much about saying everything in an ordered or organised way at this early stage – just get it all out on the page.

Follow the ‘expel, then excel’ principle...

In the same spirit as the previous tip, when you come to actually write down those first few sentences or paragraphs, just focus on writing. Throw all of your thoughts down on the page, no matter how ‘stream of consciousness’ it might be.

Once you’ve got a lot of material written down, you’ll be able to then edit and refine it, including in line with the keywords you intend to use, to rustle up something polished, pleasurable to read and effective in attracting high search engine rankings.

...as well as the ‘keep it simple, sweetie’ one

The KISS principle works so well in many areas of life, but especially when you’re writing. Don’t use overly complicated or specialised language, unless your brand voice requires this.

Make your written content readable and engaging for your target audience, and they’re more likely to stay around on your site, trust you and make use of your products or services.

Produce seasonally appropriate content

Those lulls of time during the year between the really big ‘flashpoint’ events – Christmas, Easter and so on – can really drag.

That’s why it may greatly help to put together a ‘content calendar’ that will provide a template for what kind of content you will be writing and uploading to your site at certain times of year. For example, you may time some of your content to coincide with birthdays, anniversaries or events that are important to your sector, or provide general advice that makes sense in the given season.

Did you know that your site can benefit from such services as keyword research, on-page optimisation and blog content writing when you take advantage of one of our SEO marketing packages? When you contact the Piranha Designs team, we’ll talk to you about how we can best address the needs you have for your firm’s online presence.

What could be stopping your ecommerce site’s visitors from buying?

Piranha Designs - Friday, December 21, 2018

The festive season is a period when you will want to see high conversion rates from your ecommerce store; the truth is, however, that even a strong-performing online shop can improve in some respects.

Fortunately, some of the reasons for any faltering conversions may be obvious to you; you may already know that your current checkout process is cumbersome, for example, or that your delivery costs are high compared to obvious rivals. Sometimes, overly restrictive returns policies can be harmful as well.

However, customers can also be deterred from purchasing from you by seemingly minor, ‘easy-to-overlook’ issues. Here are just a few that you may look to fix.

Colours that are harsh on the eye

Yes, even a site’s colour scheme can cause a visitor to spend less time browsing it than would otherwise be the case – and that means potentially lost sales.

Is your site largely decked out in a less popular colour – such as brown or yellow – that could be putting off visitors? Maybe the overall colour scheme is a bit unsightly, or there are clashing combinations of colours in various crucial parts of the site, such as its navigation menus and buttons?

Standard manufacturer descriptions

Guess what? Manufacturers have an interest in making their own product look like the best in its industry, so their own product descriptions can feature more than a little hyperbole.

Indeed, the typically highly sales-focused vibe of manufacturers’ own product descriptions can even sometimes fail to provide a clear outline of what the item is and how it could benefit the customer.

By writing your own site’s product descriptions, you could therefore do a lot to engage your particular visitors and give them the information and insight that they most need.

Typos, poor grammar and run-on sentences

Most of us naturally stop when we encounter an obvious spelling or grammatical error in a piece of text. It’s especially glaring on an ecommerce site, as it would normally be presumed that you have the professionalism to at least proofread the content on your site before making it ‘live’.

Also be sure to avoid especially long sentences that can be difficult to quickly read and understand.

Substandard photos and videos

The photos and videos that you use to advertise your stocked products should clearly show the item in question, not least so that the prospective buyer can easily understand what it is.

Remember that smartphone and tablet users – who make up an especially large proportion of online shoppers today – will frequently wish to pinch to zoom for a closer look at a given item. You should therefore ensure they can easily do this on your own site, even if you already provide a dedicated zoom feature.

To find out more about how Piranha Designs’ expertise in ecommerce website design could make all of the difference to your brand’s efforts to significantly bolster its conversions during 2019, simply email or get on the phone to our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices.

Could your ecommerce site's search functionality be improved?

Piranha Designs - Monday, December 17, 2018

It's difficult to think of many more important elements of a shopping site's design than its search features. We say 'features' rather than 'feature', because we aren't necessarily just talking about the keyword search box – the likes of category browsing and faceted search can also be key elements. 

In case you're wondering what those latter two features are, the first should be fairly self-explanatory – it refers to when users select categories on your website and then continue working through subcategories to narrow down the items they are interested in. 

Faceted search should also be very familiar to you. It's all about the various filters – such as size, length, colour and brand – that ecommerce sites customarily use to help shoppers to get to the products that are of greatest relevance to them. 

There are, though, many ways to optimise site search 

You shouldn't underestimate the complexity and sophistication of site search technology these days – but also the relative ease with which you can start improving this aspect of your ecommerce portal, as long as you know which components to focus on. 

It's worth scrutinising, to start with, how your site search currently uses synonyms and substitute terms. If your site is an online health food store, for example, people won't necessarily look for food supplements simply by typing in the term 'food supplements'; others could be 'health supplements', 'nutritional supplements' or perhaps something slightly more specific, like 'digestive supplements'.

Remember, too, that there are also differences in the terminology used from one industry to the next. Your visitors may perform searches for popular acronyms, abbreviations or even slang terms that lead to a zero results page, despite the products they are seeking being available on your site.

Misspellings can easily happen too, which leaves you with a decision to make: just how tolerant should your site search be to them? You could optimise your search functionality to account for one or two letters in a search term being incorrect, which could increase the number of results produced from a user's search, but also risks decreasing their relevancy.  

Then, there are such features as predictive search and type-ahead that have become 'in-vogue' on ecommerce sites in recent times. These elements can be instrumental in making life easier for your prospective customers by giving them product, category and keyword suggestions as they type. 

Get on the phone to Piranha Designs about a complete new ecommerce site design 

Is the state of your site's search functionality just one aspect in which you consider your brand's present ecommerce presence to be below-par? In that case, it may be the best decision to invest in one of our comprehensive shopping site design packages, which are offered at a range of highly competitive price points and give you full Content Management System (CMS) functionality. 

We can also undertake exacting bespoke designs if you prefer. So, why not enquire about the possibilities to the Piranha Designs team right now?

5 things to include in your retail website’s footer

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, August 22, 2018

One element of your retail site that you may almost forget about – and not even see on other sites unless you’re scrolling down to find the bottom of the page – is its footer.

But this bottom section of your site isn’t just somewhere to put all of the links and content that you may not have been able to fit in elsewhere. In short, you’ll need to make conscious decisions on what will be contained within your site’s footer.

Here are just some items that are especially common in website footers, and which you may therefore decide to include in yours.

Social media links

The importance of your retail website interfacing seamlessly – or almost seamlessly – with your brand’s social media presence should never be underestimated.

Links to your firm’s pages on such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may therefore be invaluable for alerting those looking at the bottom of your pages to the opportunities to continue engaging with your brand, even once they have left your site.

Job openings

The footer is an obvious place for many of those who have perused your site to hit their browser ‘back’ button. Including information about the latest job openings – even if this simply amounts to a ‘Careers’ link – could therefore be another great way to keep them interested and on your site.

A link to your site map

Could some visitors to your site do with a refresher of what pages your site consists of, and where they can be found? After all, the given person looking at your footer may have ended up there after unsuccessfully searching for a particular page on your site through the main navigation system.

Trust, certification and accreditation badges

Has your site been formally approved by a well-known and reputable body? Perhaps it has gained some form of external accreditation or certification that you feel could convince a lingering prospective buyer to go ahead and place an order?

Links to your terms and conditions and privacy policy

These are the mundane, but informative pages of your site that will likely reassure the customer about such matters as how your store uses their personal information and how they are entitled to use various parts of your site. Remember that these are vital pages for filling in gaps in knowledge left by your Frequently Asked Questions and similar sections, and it’s almost a given to the average customer that your terms and conditions and privacy policy links will be in the footer.

Do you want to have your very own ‘mini Amazon’ that will bring your brand impressive performance and ease of use for years to come, while driving ever-greater customer numbers? If so, our team here at Piranha Designs would be delighted to talk to you about our in-depth know-how in ecommerce website design, and advise you on which of our packages may be right for you.

So you’ve got a long page... how can you encourage users to scroll down it?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 26, 2018

While split tests have often shown that it’s better to make a page long than short, there’s one potential downside: you won’t feel the benefit if the reader isn’t aware that the page is long.

You won’t want to put a lot of hard work into creating the perfect long page, only for the visitor to not realise that they can scroll down further, or even wish to scroll down.

Defining the ‘fold’

You might well have come across the term ‘above the fold’ quite a bit when researching all things web design. It refers to the part of the page that a user can see without scrolling.

However, the fold isn’t always in the same place for different users. Instead, its position can be impacted by such factors as the user’s screen resolution, the number of bars – such as toolbars – that they have open in their browser, and whether they have zoomed in on the page.

That’s before you consider the even greater complexity brought to the issue by the ever-increasing variety of mobile and tablet web browsers these days.

But there are ways to get your users to scroll

Given such factors as the variability of the position of the fold, it’s fair to say there’s no single, universal solution to the issue of how you can encourage visitors to your long pages to scroll down.

There are, though, proven strategies that you can try. You could incorporate a distinctive background into the top, left and right-hand corners of your page, for example, so that it’s obvious to the reader when they still need to scroll down further to reach the bottom.

Alternatively, you could be a little less subtle, by actually asking the reader to scroll down in your sales copy – explicitly saying “Please scroll down for...” or words to that effect. Remember that users are more likely to follow such an instruction if they are given a clear incentive to do so – for example, if you have a discount code or a download link for a useful PDF to give to them.

You might even go as far as incorporating a ‘please scroll’ graphic just above the fold. You could simply place it where most of your visitors’ folds lie, or add it to a freestanding object attached to the bottom of the browser window. The latter tactic will ensure the graphic is always seen at the bottom of the reader’s screen, regardless of their screen resolution.

Why not talk to us about website design?

Long pages can certainly deliver great results for your organisation, but it’s vital to ensure your readers are quickly made aware of their length and are encouraged to scroll down them.

If you would appreciate the highest-quality bespoke web design services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Piranha Designs team, so that we can discuss with you the best route forward.


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