Digital Karma (Website Edition): Do Good Unto Others and They Will Do Good Unto You
It’s 2013 in Bogota, Colombia…
…a woman is waiting for a bus to arrive. A man walks into the stop, skirting his way through the crowd. He spots an opportunity and dives straight at her, trying to rip the mobile phone from her hand.
She fights back, but he’s too strong. The man tries to make a getaway across the road, but…
…before he’s even taken a step, the bus pulls up and wipes him out.
(The woman retrieved her phone and the man escaped without serious injury)
This is just one example of millions of videos about the mystical concept born in ancient India.
The word itself means action, word or deed, but has many other spiritual connotations.
Karma’s main principle is simple, cause and effect:
- Good Karma- Good intent and deeds will be rewarded with future happiness.
- Bad Karma- Bad intent and actions will be punished with future suffering.
Whether you believe in it or not (I don’t, by the way), there are definitive connections that run between how we work, and how we succeed.
In this article, we’re going to discuss websites: what makes them tick, convert and boost loyalty rates. But instead of saying ‘this is good’ and ‘this is bad’, we’re going to talk in terms of karma.
The spiritual concept is particularly relevant to your website because they are built for others. You must have their experience in the forefront of your thinking, and if you don’t, or you’re swayed by egotistical decisions, it will result in high bounce rate, low traffic, few return users, low conversions and a bunch of other stuff that just isn’t cool…
…AKA bad karma and future suffering.
The Basics of Digital Karma
Think your load speed is good? Have you even checked?
The world is speeding up, and people aren’t prepared to wait anymore. Clients are forever telling us that their site is fast, before confessing they haven’t done a speed check in 6 months.
47% of people are expecting your site to load within 2 seconds, and for EVERY additional second, page views decrease by 11%, and conversions by 7% (Source: Quantam Dynamix). Every second costs money!
Google is currently (July 2018) rolling out a change to their mobile search algorithm, which ranks fast sites higher than slow ones. This change is purely on mobile at the moment, but it’s a clear signal of intent by the search engine giant, and we expect to see a similar algorithm change for desktop in the future.
But, while penalising sites with slow load speeds, they’re also offering help. They have created tools for people who are ACTIVELY trying to improve their websites.
Their ‘Test My Site’ tool reveals mobile load time, estimated visitor losses (due to load time), industry comparisons and a report with instructions on how to improve.
And, their ‘Make the Web Faster’ tool, analyses websites page-speed score and offers suggestions about how to speed it up.
- Not Regularly checking load speed times
- Not optimising site for load speed (using free report or tools)
- Website with over 3 second load time, and additional bad karma for every second over that
- Not optimised for Mobile (more on this later)
- Regular load speed checks
- Closely following updates to relevant load-speed services
- Implementing report advice
- Optimised for Mobile
- Site that loads (first bytes) in under two seconds
If you want users to buy, spend loads of time on your site and enjoy their experience, you HAVE to make it easy to navigate.
There are very things more irritating than having to WORK to find something within a website. You should have a clear and concise roadmap of directions, that any web user can understand.
A menu bar should appear on every page and always be placed either horizontally along the top of the site, or down the left-hand side. Menu’s that are placed in the centre of pages, on the right-hand side, or the bottom, are hard for users to find and incredibly irritating for our conditioned mouse behaviour.
After reaching a website, 50% of people will use the navigation menu to orient themselves (Source: KoMarketing).
You should also have no clutter, or loud designs fighting for attention. Content will do the attention-grabbing work, not crazy designs or eye-burning flashes of colour.
The success of your website’s navigation comes down to speed and clarity. How many clicks does it take for a user to reach a buying page? Or an About page? Or a blog?
Simple and clear will always win over clever and complicated.
- Poorly positioned menu, or no menu at all
- Logos not linked to homepage
- Complicated design
- 4 or more clicks to reach anywhere on your site.
- Broken links
- No filter or sort options
- Irrelevant suggested pages EVERYWHERE
- Complicated (buying) processes
- Style over function, ego over user experience
- Not optimised for mobile
- Internal search bar
- Menu always present at top of page, or left-hand side
- Optimised for mobile
- Any page can be reached in 3 CLICKS or less
- Clear design
- Simple CTA’s
- All links regularly checked and working
- Logos and images are linked to relevant pages
- Filter and sort options on EVERY list or results page
A week doesn’t go by without data protection hitting the headlines. The public is worried about their personal information, and the security websites offer.
This makes it a MASSIVE MUST for anybody with a website. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B seller, a blog, magazine, publication, tool, software developer, B2C trader…
…anything! Your website has to have security in place.
People have become wise to data collection methods and are more than aware of the dangers.
Everyone wants to know they’re safe. According to C.A Security Council, only 3% of people would give their credit card information on a website without the padlock icon, and 18% of shoppers abandon their shopping cart citing trust as their sole reason.
Chrome has also updated their browser, so sites running under the unsecure HTTP are now labelled ‘Not Secure’ in the URL bar. And with 60.98% of the market, it’s crucial people take notice. This ‘not secure’ sign immediately makes users feel threatened, creating very BAD KARMA.
- No security
- Not actively showing security labels to visitors
- Security installed
- Security badges shown on buying/commitment pages
- Clear and easy to find data policy
If you’ve built a website and just left it, you’re owed bad karma.
Visitors will return to your site if they like it, but they won’t keep coming back if you aren’t frequently posting new content or updating the site. Looking at the same thing over and over again causes visitor fatigue.
Businesses will already know the importance of content marketing, and should regularly create new content, whether that be images, blogs, audios or videos.
Publishing frequent content will drive new visitors and increase the loyalty rate of existing users.
The same can be said about your website’s design. You should update or redesign your site every 2–3 years AT MOST, to keep it fresh and exciting for your audience.
- 3 or fewer new pieces of content published every month
- Design older than 3 years
- Never updated site
- No dedicated pages for new content
- No promotion of new content
- Complete lack of effort towards content marketing
- 2+ pieces of content published every week
- Dedicated and easily navigated pages for content
- Frequently post updates on social media
- Promote new content
- Update products/pages/services regularly
- Up-to-date design
- Testing, analysing and implementing results from new content
Would you go back to a shop where you were constantly harassed to buy or exchange your contact details?
The same applies to websites.
Pop-ups might grab you a few extra leads, but really, all they’re doing is scaring people away. They are intrusive and irritating. I have read many studies about their conversion rates, and understand that they convert at approximately 3% (this can be massive if you’re generating lots of traffic)…
…but, whenever we’ve tested them we’ve seen the same thing, an increase in bounce rate and fewer return visitors. I think loyalty and customer experience are more important than the 3%.
Pop-ups aren’t the only kind of irritating demand…
…Ads, people love to avoid them. If you allow them on your site, don’t let them ruin the UX.
Your website should have a primary purpose and that shouldn’t be to advertise. Do not allow ads to detract from that purpose. Visitors will flock to your website if it’s got a reason for existence and they know about it, the wrong adverts will kill this formula.
Early or poorly placed CTA’s do the exact same thing. Be careful where and when you ask for action. Use BOFU content and pixel tracking to understand when the time is right.
- Pop-ups, especially the overly-demanding, irrelevant, zero-personality, unclear, immediate kind.
- Too many ads
- Overbearing ad designs
- Poorly placed ads
- No CTA strategy
- No CTA relevance
- 0 ads
- If using ads, relevant, appropriate and not over bearing
- No pop-ups
- Relevant CTA’s, placed in appropriate content
- No harassment
A website should be functional before fashionable, no matter what it does.
Many of the most popular websites in the world use incredibly minimalistic designs, and there’s good reason for it. Minimalism reduces confusion, intrusion and irritation.
Websites with the most user-friendly designs stick to 1 or 2 main colours, go for an easy to read font and place images only where they are relevant.
Design tends to be one of the most contentious points in web building, because owners always want their site to be the best looking. Unfortunately, attractive doesn’t mean usable.
Another karma killer is the auto-play video or audio. We may have thought this was amazing a few years ago, but now it’s irritating, slows load speeds and is intrusive. If users want to play a video or audio on your site, they’ll press the play button.
According to Hubspot, 82% of people said they have closed a browser or exited a webpage because of an autoplaying video ad.
- Poor font
- Auto-play video/audio
- Too many colors
- Clashing colors
- Too many images
- Poorly formatted images
- Easy to read font
- 1–2 main colours
- No auto-playing features
- Relevant images placed in relevant places
Last year mobile overtook desktop as the most used internet device, and this year it’s increased by another 1.9%.
If your site is not optimised for mobile, you’re leaving a lot of business/visitors and interactions on the table.
When thinking about design avoid Flash (the plugin often doesn’t work on mobile), delete pop-ups and make all buttons LARGE (we haven’t all got dainty fingers).
It’s also very important that your site is optimised for speed on mobile. As I touched on earlier, Google ranks sites with fast loading speeds higher on search. You should use the ‘Test My Site’ tool (FREE from Google) to receive a FREE REPORT and suggestions for improvement.
Navigation is a massive factor in mobile UX too. Ensure that all menus are clearly marked, available on every page and reduced in size from your desktop version. Create a dropdown menu with additional (less used) options. Three horizontal lines is a sleek universally recognised design that can’t go wrong.
- Design doesn’t function on mobile
- Slow loading speeds
- Tiny buttons and links
- Flash player
- No optimization effort
- Big focus on mobile optimization
- Regular reports and implementation of suggestions
- Fast loading speeds
- Clickable buttons and links
- Easy to navigate touchscreen format
There are many factors that make a website successful. I won’t be able to cover absolutely everything (we’ll be here all day), but if you’ve got the basics correct, the ‘others’ should fall into place.
Effort should be put into everything published on your site. If you don’t invest time and energy into the quality of your content, why should anybody visit it? Use a variety of formats to hit a wider ranging audience.
- Rehashed opinions
- Copied content
- Sloppy, poorly produced work
- No variety
- No Strategy
- Clear and effective strategy
- Original work
- Video, audio, written and images used
- Well-researched and effective
Does your website have any links to social networks?
Social badges are easily recognisable and help promote your presence on these external locations. They also provide social proof and allow users to find out more about you.
- No social badges
- No social links
- Social share buttons
- Share counters (for social proof)
- Content promoted on social networks
- Clear link between website voice and social voice
Not everyone is an expert, so why talk to them like they are?
A beginner is not going to understand technical terms, so keep things simple and light and build them up to more complicated themes, products and content. Implement a content strategy to help users navigate to their level easily.
Another thing that visitors find intimidating are huge blocks of text. These clumpy paragraphs increase skim reading and page abandonment.
- Arrogant assumption that everyone is at your level (for your specialism)
- Alienate beginners
- Intimidating presentation
- Clear strategy for every level of user
- Short, easy to read text
Clickbait and Meta
A terrible way to kick-off a new relationship, is with a lie or exaggerated promise.
If a visitor comes to your site from a link that promises something, and actually offers something else, they feel cheated and lied to, and probably won’t come back again.
You should use meta data to be concise about what you’re offering. As well as selling your link, you must be upfront about it.
- Misleading meta description
- Unclear meta description
- Clear headlines, that are backed up by the landing page
- Short, simple and user friendly meta descriptions
Digital Karma: Conclusion
It doesn’t matter if you believe in Karma, or not. Make mistakes in any one of the above categories and you will pay the price.
Many website owners create sites with only one purpose, to make them look good. Selfish, egotistical decisions will result in one thing, BAD KARMA.
Put your audience ahead of yourself, closely follow technological updates, regularly check, update and test your site, and use the tips in this guide to improve your performance.
Do good unto others, and they will do good unto you.
There are loads of factors that contribute to a website’s success, do you think I missed anything? Leave a comment so our audience can discover more.
Maybe you’re a specialist in web development, share your top tips with our lovely readers! They’d love to learn more.
If you’re a regular internet browser, why don’t you let us know your biggest website turn-off’s and on’s? Together we can make the web a better place.