Website Must Dos from 2020

Industry Insights
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Travis McAshan
Published Mar 2021
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So, somehow we’re already finding ourselves in March of 2021 (how is it time to start planning for Q2?!) Even if your business has already sketched out your marketing goals for 2021, it may be helpful to get a little extra perspective on what has been happening in the website design environment that you should consider including in this year’s to-do list. Failing to keep pace with your customers’ expectations or getting penalized by Google’s newest ranking rules could set your best efforts back.

I want to help keep that from happening to your website, so I’ve put together the five big things that our Glide designers and developers made sure to implement in our clients’ websites in 2020. If you haven’t already taken care of these updates to your company website, now’s the time to add them to your web marketing to-do list.

#1. Mobile / Responsive Design

First off, it’s important to understand that a separate, dedicated site for mobile is different from a mobile responsive site. A mobile-dedicated site is a completely distinct site built for viewing on mobile phones. They usually live under a separate URL (such as m.yourwebsite.com) and are a pared down version of the full website. A responsive site is one that automatically adjusts to the size of the screen that it’s viewed on (phones, tablets, etc.)- maintaining the same content and functionality.

If your website hasn’t been updated for mobile viewing, it’s time to get on that asap for two big reasons. The first reason is because of the high percentage of people viewing web pages from mobile and tablet devices- this group eclipsed those viewing on desktops and laptops for the first time .  The second reason is because in July 2019, Google implemented mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing means that Google uses the mobile version of your website content for indexing and ranking.

In sum, if you haven’t already done so, you need to update your company website to be mobile responsive to keep from sabotaging your site’s effectiveness and to respond to the needs of your customers.

#2. SSL(Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate

An SSL is a data file that launches a secure browsing session for a user and allows for a private connection between your customers and your site. You need an SSL certificate to use HTTPS and display the padlock symbol in the address bar of your site (a designation that is also used in your site’s ranking). The web’s most popular browser, Google Chrome, has started “shaming” websites without an SSL certificate by flagging them for having unsecure content in their search results. The Chrome 79 update went so far as to start blocking some sites that weren’t HTTPS secured.

cyber security

p>This update is a no-brainer as most hosting providers offer an SSL certificate for free by just checking a box or requesting it from your website host. Check out this Checklist for Transitioning to HTTPS for tips on how to make this change go smoothly for your site.

#3. Mobile Page Speed (a.k.a. Page Load Time)

According to research from Google, as your page load time increases from one to five seconds, the probability of your mobile site visitor bouncing increases 90%. Because mobile phones users are accessing websites both on and off high-speed wifi connections, this reinforces the need for your webpages to load quickly. Google has used page speed in their ranking algorithms for desktop searches for a while, but they expanded it to mobile search rankings in July 2018, and it continues to be a major factor in website usability.

The good news is that many of the updates needed for better page load time can be done fairly easily. Simply compressing images and text can make a big difference. Google offers a great online tool called PageSpeed Insights, that shows page speed data for your site, alongside suggestions for how to improve it.

#4. Accessibility & Compliance

The standards for accessibility and compliance for the hearing and seeing impaired on the web is being continually debated in the industry and in the courtroom. In 2019, a case brought against Domino’s Pizza over the accessibility of their online ordering was taken all the way to the Supreme Court. Domino’s petition for the Supreme Court to hear whether its website is required to be accessible was denied, leaving the lower court’s decision against the company in place. Even more important is making your website accessible for everyone so you aren’t excluding any of your current or potential customers.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 from W3C is considered the industry standard for accessibility, but is not officially law. Without clear rules for how to make websites properly accessible, this issue can be convoluted and complex for businesses. It’s a good idea to hire an expert when building a technical website and to include your legal advisors in the process. There are also some online tools that you can “bolt” onto your website to make it accessible. One of these tools that I usually recommend is the Userway plugin.

#5. Privacy Protection

A 2020 survey of 10,000+ adults in the U.S. and nine other countries found that over two-thirds are more alarmed than ever about their online privacy. The same survey also found that around two-thirds of those people said they’ve opted not to use certain apps and services solely based on their privacy policies.

Almost every country (or sometimes individual states – as in the U.S.) has enacted some kind of data privacy laws for online interactions. Some notable examples include the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and New York SHIELD Act in the U.S., and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU. Failure to follow privacy laws can lead to fines and lawsuits for businesses that serve people living in the coordinating jurisdictions.

Legal reasons aside, creating healthy privacy and cookie policies for your company’s website is just good practice and will help your business out in general even if the laws don’t apply to you. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sensational public war currently being played out between Apple and Facebook about privacy will have effects that trickle down to smaller businesses in the future.

Think You Missed a Few of These Updates?

Keeping up with the evolving requirements in the website environment takes a lot of work and can be a lot easier with a helping hand. At Glide, our team has invested over 18 years in helping our thriving customers find success on over 1,000 web projects. If you’re up for it, we’re more than happy to discuss potentially working together and building out your next website project.

To learn more, Book a Call

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