How websites have changed over the years

There was a time when cramming as many flashing buttons, CTAs and banners into one web page was the norm, but that meant things certainly weren’t optimised for the user experience…

Nowadays websites are much more focused on being simple and user focused. We take a look at 4 astounding ways that websites have changed over the years, and why we should be thankful they have.

1.) Mobile responsiveness is a must

One of the biggest additions to the world of technology has been the smartphone, meaning everything has become geared towards mobile devices, with websites being no exception.

Before websites became responsive, users with mobiles were redirected to a site that matched their screen size, but only accessible via the most popular devices. This soon wore very thin with web developers with having to update and manage numerous sites.

With “mobile devices projected to reach 79% of global internet usage by the end of 2018” a solution needed to be addressed to deal with the surging popularity of mobile phones.

Typically, all websites are now built ‘responsively’ which means that the design, content and layout automatically adjust to the dimensions of the device. Not only is this of huge importance to the user but Google now favours responsive sites and ranks them higher due to deeming them a better user experience.

2.) The evolution of design

Website design has seen the heaviest and most drastic transformation over the years, with some current websites being hardly recognisable in comparison to their older counterparts. Websites have always been created with the user in mind, but over the years web design has evolved to the point where every click has been planned using a sitemap.

With “75% of users admitting to making judgements about a company’s credibility based on their website design,” it’s more important now than ever to get your website right.

Website design has shifted towards a more user-orientated approach with ‘Flat Design’, which involves designing websites with a larger emphasis on content whilst leaving the user interface fairly simple, making it as easy as possible for your website visitors to engage with your site.

One site that has completely transformed over the years is the Apple website. To put it nicely their old website was ‘messy’ and not optimised for the user experience at all, like most websites at that time. In contrast the current website has a large emphasis on simplicity; every title, image or call to action is clearly stated for the user.

3.) Google’s algorithm updates

SEO has undergone many changes due to the numerous Google algorithm updates over the years – from the rise of content to the slow death of keywords.

With everyone leaning towards their mobiles to actively find solutions to their problems, local SEO is becoming more of a necessity. You might want to start incorporating your location and ‘near me’ into your PPC strategy, as well as working towards ranking for local search results.

Content marketing has always been part of a successful SEO strategy, now more so than ever. But with Google’s algorithm update ‘Panda’ in 2011 leading to the sudden decrease in spam content and keyword stuffing; the importance of content grew.

Currently a website’s ranking is based on numerous factors, one of the main being the user experience. Content marketing is a sure-fire way to offer value to your consumers and make sure their experience is a positive one.

Keywords aren’t completely dead, they can still be used for ranking opportunities; but the ‘Hummingbird’ update introduced semantic search to replace keyword mapping, in the aim to concentrate on user intent. Which also means that black hat techniques such as keyword stuffing aren’t as prominent as they once were.

4.) Social media integration

Just like websites, social media sites have seen recognisable changes over the years, from algorithm updates to design and layout changes. No matter what social network you look at, it has definitely seen some drastic changes in the last few years.

A very noticeable change to websites is the addition of social media feeds. It’s becoming easier and easier to integrate social media into your website using widgets, feeds and APIs.
However, you integrate social media into your website, there are several benefits that come along with it:

A recent study by Smart Insights shows that being responsive on social media prompts up to 48% of consumers to make a purchase. Having your social media feed on show provides you with the opportunity to get your website visitors to interact with your brand on social networks.

Social pages allow your website to be kept up to date easily, which is a recognised quality for search engines. This will do your SEO the world of good as well as showing your web visitors that you have an active following online.

Over time websites have gone from flashing eyesores to slick communication hubs to engage with your visitors. If you haven’t adapted yet, you could be at a disadvantage to your competitors.

In this ever-changing world of digital remember the 2 key principles; simplicity and user-focus.

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