When you think about the websites out there that are really great, what do you think about? You might think about the content they offer or the products they sell. You might think about the people who make them or the way the site looks when you bring it up. What you might not think about–at least not deeply–is how the site behaves.
The bones of your website: the code that builds it and tells it what to do and how to do it matters more than anything else when you are building your site’s business. Sure, there are people out there who will tell you that the content it contains is the most important element, but ask yourself this: if someone truly loves your content but can’t buy your products because their carts won’t load or because some jerk hacker sent them a virus through a back door you didn’t know about–then the content is basically just icing on a poisoned cake, isn’t it?
Nobody likes poisoned cake. More importantly, nobody wants anybody else to eat that poisoned cake.
If you want to build a website that can handle the love your awesome content creates, here are the details you need to mind.
You have to make sure that your site is secure. There are several components involved in this. You need to make sure that your own computers are secure and not convenient pathways from hackers to your site’s server. If you are self-hosting the site this is easier to do because you can oversee all of the security details yourself. If you are like most businesses, however, you are going to use a third-party server (and maybe even a shared server on their system). Make sure you choose a third-party with a good security record. You want to make sure that your site and the people who use it are protected.
Slow sites are a drain on a company website. In this world of fiber optic web access, where sites are supposed to load and respond in seconds (not minutes), a slow loading and moving site will cost your business, not build your business. Research has proven that people are likely to simply abandon shopping carts that take too long to load and to cancel payments that take too long to process. Slowness makes people nervous.
It’s true that, in terms of speed, the user’s connection matters as well. Someone whose internet connection is slow won’t load your site quickly no matter what your server speed may be. Even so, make sure that everything on your end is as quick as possible. For that matter, it is important to make sure that your own connection is as fast as possible so that you’ll know if complaints about speed are user-sided or server-sided. While it is true that super fast speeds and fiber optic connections can be expensive, many companies are bundling them with other services. For example, small businesses in central Florida have had great success bundling U-Verse Internet deals in Orlando through service providers there. Look for similar deals in your local area. It’s a great way to save money without sacrificing the quality of your service or offerings.
This is different than speed. When we talk about responsiveness, of course, we are talking about a site that can adjust itself instantly to the machine being used to access it. If you’ve ever had to try to navigate a site built for the web on a smart phone, you know how annoying that is. Make sure that your site can adjust for smart phone and tablet metrics. More and more people are accessing the web and shopping via their portable devices. Don’t lose sales because you’re forcing them to find a “regular” computer!
Note: This means adjusting for a variety of tablet specs. Kindle Fires behave differently than iPads, etc.
Someone logs in to your site, clicks on a blog link and…is taken to their shopping cart. Whoops! This isn’t you trying to push sales on them (though, at first glance it might seem that way). It’s because somehow the links in your code got messed up. Or maybe they want to buy one product but it loads two different products. Having a qualified QA professional who can monitor your site and fix bugs like these, is incredibly important. The last thing you want is to lose sales because people can’t navigate through your site or use it properly.
If you want people to love your site, you need to build it well. Good bones aren’t just important in tangible construction projects like buildings. They are also important in digital constructions like websites.