As each new year begins, it is a great time to evaluate your website's features and functionality against constantly changing industry trends. This year, get your site in compliance with these three areas to ensure best performance for your visitors and search engines.
Beginning this month, with Google's Chrome browser version 56, any pages on your site that ask for a password or credit card will display a browser address bar message specifically calling out the page as "Not Secure". This is a fantastic step forward for security, and we hope to see all browser manufacturers adopt this tactic. The long term goal, according to Google, is to display a bright red browser address bar warning for all non-secured pages, regardless of content.
Why does this matter for your website? What if you don't ask for personal information or credit card information on your site? There are many benefits for both your site visitors, as well as site owners:
Google has made it clear that if your website doesn't conform to their standards for accessibility on mobile devices, that your search rankings will be penalized. Mobile website browsing passed desktop browsing in 2014, meaning that more people are using smartphones and tablets to browse the web than desktop computers. Google recognized this trend and is taking steps to ensure that users have the best browsing experience on the device they choose.
What does this mean for website owners? If your site hasn't been redesigned in the last five years or so, there is only a slim chance that it has a mobile experience at all. Even if it was redesigned around five years ago and has a mobile version, that version may not conform to the standards that are in place today that ensure mobile users have a good browsing experience. If you've gone through a more recent redesign, hopefully your site was built with responsive design that adapts its layout to all sizes of devices and browsers. Responsive design has become the standard for modern website layout and design.
Once again, we're catering to what Google wants websites to be, and in this case, it wants websites to be faster. The good news is that faster websites are a great benefit to everyone. Beginning in 2016, Google began adding page speed to its ranking factors. Why now?
As internet connections have gotten faster, and computers and browsers have gotten better at rendering pages quickly, websites have also gotten very bloated. More large images (which look great), more video, more scripts (which add functionality), more code in general. This has made web pages "heavier" and they require a lot more bandwidth to send all that code, all those images, and play all that video. While websites have become richer and more interesting, it is at the expense of the user experience. Users are waiting longer and longer for pages to load, leading to frustration and abandonment.
Google and others have begun providing tools to measure page speed and find ways to reduce page weight. Smart developers are changing course and beginning to pay more attention to how the decisions they make when developing sites affect site users.
There are a million ways to build a website, none of which is inherently wrong, but there are constantly evolving best practices that can benefit website visitors as well as the site owners themselves. Google began changing the game a few years ago as they noticed that website consumption was changing, by enforcing new standards for website security, speed, and mobile-friendliness and directly correlating those standards to website ranking in search results. But all of this is good news- its good for Google, sure, but also good for website owners and visitors alike.
If you aren't sure about how your website stands with regard to any of these factors, Swish can help you evaluate how and where to make improvements, or, if you need to improve anything at all. Contact us for a free website evaluation and consultation.
Chad is a 19 year veteran of the web industry. A developer by trade, he is now at the helm of his 3rd digital agency.